Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s extension of the wage subsidy to include businesses of all sizes has been welcomed, with the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) saying that it will provide much-needed support to the country’s mining industry.
The wage subsidy, initially only meant for smaller businesses, is a critical component of a package of reforms designed to help business keep workers employed as the economy transitions through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement will see 75% of an employee's salary up to C$58 700 temporarily subsidised by government in an effort to prevent lay-offs, and the disruption to both businesses and employees associated with such actions.
Backdated to March 15, businesses and nonprofit organizations seeing a drop of at least 30% in revenue owing to Covid-19 will be eligible for the programme.
"As is the case with many sectors, mining has been heavily impacted by Covid-19, with multiple companies reducing or suspending operations at mines, smelters and refineries across Canada, resulting in tens of thousands of lay-offs of direct and indirect employees," said MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton.
"The wage subsidy will help prevent further lay-offs, thus minimising both the scale and extent of disruption to both businesses, employees and contractors, and better position the mining sector to resume operations and support the many thousands of individuals who depend on it for employment."
The mining industry employs 626 000 people across Canada, accounting for one in every 30 jobs. The initiative, Gratton said, would enable mining companies to retain their workforces in the face of the economic hardship brought on by the pandemic.
Many mines across Canada have reduced their workforces and put, often voluntarily, mines on care and maintenance as the coronavirus spread across the country and the world.