Justin Trudeau’s $107B Coronavirus Plan Doesn’t Do Enough to Prevent Layoffs

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.Justin Trudeau’s $107 billion stimulus package is a done deal. But the plan, which increased from $82 billion last week, could still do more to prevent layoffs and get money quickly into the hands of the people who are in real financial trouble right now. The package includes a…

Justin Trudeau’s $107B Coronavirus Plan Doesn’t Do Enough to Prevent Layoffs

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.Justin Trudeau’s $107 billion stimulus package is a done deal. But the plan, which increased from $82 billion last week, could still do more to prevent layoffs and get money quickly into the hands of the people who are in real financial trouble right now. The package includes a newly streamlined $52 billion emergency plan which makes available $2,000 in monthly support for workers who need income because of COVID-19. This benefit is for anyone who is out of work, taking time off because they’re sick, taking care of someone who is sick, or taking care of kids home from school. But getting that money into people’s bank accounts won’t happen until mid-April, according to the federal government. And that’s assuming that everything goes smoothly.The reality is that many Canadians can’t wait. A rapid escalation of COVID-19 related restrictions on travel, social distancing, and shutdowns of everything except for non-essential services in Ontario and Quebec, have brought the airline, service, and events industries to a standstill. We’ve never seen layoffs of this magnitude before. Last week, nearly one million people in Canada filed for Employment Insurance (EI)—which is about 5 percent of all the workers in the country. According to a new Angus Reid poll, 44 percent of Canadians say someone in their household has either lost their job or had their hours cut back because of the coronavirus outbreak. Sixty-six percent of workers whose hours or pay have been reduced say their employer isn’t covering that reduced pay. One in five households are expecting to lose work soon. And most rents are due April 1.One way the Trudeau government could do more to prevent layoffs is in the form of wage subsidies. Currently, it offers a 10 percent temporary wage subsidy for small businesses. “This will encourage employers to keep staff on payroll during these uncertain times,” Trudeau said. The payout is capped at $1,375 per worker and $25,000 per employer. But that 10 percent subsidy is remarkably low compared to what some European count
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