Coronavirus support package rejigs benefits for workers hit by pandemic

The Liberals are repackaging two previously promised benefits for Canadians whose working lives are disrupted by the new coronavirus pandemic.

And that change will almost double direct spending in the government’s economic plan to $52 billion.

Combining the two benefits into one will mean a $2,000 per month payment for up to four months to workers whose income drops to zero because of the pandemic, including if they have been furloughed by their employers but technically still have jobs.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the measure allows companies to temporarily let go of workers to cut payroll costs and leave money in the affected employees’ pockets.

“Companies don’t need to separate their employee from their company. They just need to say, ‘we can’t pay you during this time period.’ And when that happens, there is a direct wage subsidy to people, to employees so that they can actually live their lives,” he said.

“When this is done, they can go back to work for their employers and that we think is critically important.”

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