Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

Former Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie, seen here in Toronto on June 26, 2019, chairs the Council of Canadian Innovators, which is urging federal officials to revise the conditions for the government's emergency wage subsidy.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

Business leaders and social policy analysts are warning that conditions imposed by the federal government’s multibillion-dollar package of income support measures will leave out many people and employers.

Canada’s community of tech startups is particularly disappointed with the terms announced this week for the federal government’s new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to help businesses hit hard by COVID-19, which would give employers funds to cover 75 per cent of wage costs up to $58,700 – or $847 a week.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced on Wednesday that employers will have to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent each month in comparison to the same month a year earlier.

Story continues below advertisement

Coronavirus guide: Updates and essential resources about the COVID-19 pandemic

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

What are the coronavirus rules in my province? A quick guide to what’s allowed and open, or closed and banned

Business groups say a company’s monthly income can fluctuate considerably, especially if it is relatively new.

Jim Balsillie, a former chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion and the current chair of the Council of Canadian Innovators, said many small and medium-sized companies don’t generate monthly income statements.

Mr. Balsillie’s group advocates on behalf of Canadian technology firms and is urging federal officials to revise the rules when legislation to implement the program is tabled in Parliament, likely next week. Mr. Balsillie said many tech entrepreneurs are also concerned that errors in applications could trigger the program’s harsh compliance penalties.

“There’s enormous anxiety,” he said in an interview. His organization is calling for the penalties to be eased, a focus on faster processing, possibly by contracting some of the work out to Canadian tech companies, and changes to the 30-per-cent rule.

“That’s not the right metric,” Mr. Balsillie said, noting that companies are more likely to track activities such as bookings, new subscribers, units shipped or billable hours.

Other business owners and advocacy organizations have also criticized the 30-per-cent rule.

Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the country’s largest corporations, expressed frustration that the federal government chose to offer a complicated wage-subsidy program.

Story continues below advertisement

“We need to act with some urgency, and we need to keep it simple and not complicate it in a crisis," he said.

Mr. Morneau responded generally to some of the concerns on Thursday before the House of Commons finance committee, saying the government aims for simplicity and speed.

“We are going as fast as humanly possible,” he said, after the three main opposition parties accused the government of creating delays and confusion. “It’s not as easy as just pressing a button. ... I can assure you if we can do it faster, we will in fact get there."

The government will need the support of opposition parties to pass the legislation quickly.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said in a statement on Thursday that his party is calling for adjustments to the 30-per-cent rule and for Ottawa to cover some of businesses’ operational costs.

John Ruffolo, vice-chair of the Canadian Council of Innovators and former CEO of OMERS Ventures, said the finance department has miscalculated by having the Canada Revenue Agency manage the program.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is going to be doomed to fail," he said. "They are going to try to build this on the fly. It’s likely there will be massive gridlock on people submitting applications, and they are not designed to understand the needs of different businesses.”

He urged Ottawa to run the wage subsidy program through the banks, which he said could get the money out within 48 hours.

The government has also introduced a program called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide up to $500 per week for 16 weeks to people who have lost all income due to COVID-19.

Critics have noted that the CERB leaves out individuals such as contractors who may have lost most, but not all, of their income.

Also on Thursday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report that said one third of unemployed Canadians will not qualify for Employment Insurance or the CERB. Some of the reasons include the fact that they are among the long-term unemployed or haven’t met the threshold of earning $5,000 over the past year to qualify for the CERB.

In his daily news conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the report by saying the two income support programs will help millions of Canadians, but acknowledged the government has more to do.

Story continues below advertisement

“We know that there are many vulnerable people who won’t be able to access this support who will need extra help,” he said. “We’re making sure that we’re flowing funds through shelters, through non-profits and charitable organizations as well, but there will always be more to do.”

The federal government is widening its promise to subsidize wages for employers affected by COVID-19 to big businesses, non-profits and charities, if they've lost 30 per cent or more of their revenues. But he's warning them not to take advantage of the multibillion-dollar program, and to see that the money goes to workers, not owners. The Canadian Press

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies