Wage subsidy program extended, helping dealers rehire

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has been extended past the initial June deadline to August 29, according to an announcement from Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau on May 15.

That’s good news for auto dealers who are benefitting (or plan to benefit) from the program, which originally offered a 75 per cent subsidy of employee wages for up to 12 weeks and is retroactive from March 15 to June 6. That deadline has now been pushed to the fall period.

“Overall the federal government wage subsidy program is working and it’s helping small and medium businesses across Canada cope with the impact of COVID-19,” said Oumar Dicko, Chief Economist at the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), in an interview with Canadian auto dealer.

“So far what we’ve heard from dealerships across the country is that the wage subsidy program has helped them rehire employees and put them back on payroll, and has supported them through the crisis, as well as other support that the federal government has implemented,” said Dicko.

The information is also reflected in CADA’s recent survey, which found that 75 per cent of dealerships across the nation reported having hired employees back as a result of CEWS.

Dicko said they were pleased the program was extended as it will continue to support dealerships not only throughout the COVID-19 crisis but also post-pandemic — the recovery period, when they will require access to financial support while the market is recovering and the economy is gradually reopening.

“There are measures we proposed to the government to boost demand during the recovery, such as a national scrappage program or an HST/GST holiday, and a program to increase lending capacity for vehicles and to encourage vehicle purchase,” said Dicko. “We also worked with the government so that the programs that are currently in place can stay on beyond the crisis to help with the recovery as well.”

He said the recovery is currently CADA’s main focus.

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