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The federal government is adding $155-million to its pandemic-support Innovation Assistance Program to protect jobs at small companies who don’t qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Ottawa announced the first $250-million tranche of funding on April 17, a month after pandemic lockdowns began, as it became clear that the government’s first round of COVID-19 business supports would leave some companies behind.

The Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) funding flows through the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, which helps small-but-eager companies take their ideas to market. The IAP is small compared with multi-billion-dollar programs such as the wage subsidy, but by targeting firms focused on innovation, it became one of the first programs to target a specific slice of the economy – though the focus on innovation is not limited to one sector.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the funding extension at a press conference late Friday morning.

Mr. Bains said in April that the government hoped the IAP would help 1,000 companies protect 10,000 jobs. In a press release Friday morning, the government said that that first round of funding was divided among 2,200 companies and “supported” more than 24,000 jobs.

The first $250-million offered wage supports between April 1 and June 23. The eligibility period for the new funding is retroactive to June 24 and will run through Dec. 19. Much like the latest iteration of the wage subsidy, the IAP funding available to each claimant is set decline over the course of the eligibility period.

Ottawa has outlined funding availability until the same date for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, though both programs are expected to run until next summer.

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