Federal government extends wage subsidy for three months

Government also commits $1 billion to research

May 16, 2020, 4:36 am


The federal government will extend the federal wage subsidy program by three months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday morning.

“Canadians in every sector have faced challenges,” Trudeau said during a press conference on Friday morning.

“Far too many Canadians have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be extended from its scheduled end date of June 6 to August 29.

The CEWS covers 75 per cent of eligible employers’ payrolls up to a weekly maximum of $847 per employee. The program was originally announced for up to 12 weeks starting March 15.

“Business owners, you will have some runway to catch your breath, so please, bring back your employees,” Trudeau said.

Support for research

The federal government also announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19.

The Government of Canada will invest in new medical countermeasures to better understand COVID-19, and develop the infrastructure needed to fight the virus here in Canada. This includes:

The establishment of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force that will operate under the direction of a leadership group, which will include Dr. David Naylor, Dr. Catherine Hankins, Dr. Tim Evans, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Dr. Mona Nemer. The task force will establish priorities and oversee the coordination of a series of country-wide blood test surveys that will tell us how widely the virus has spread in Canada and provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canadian populations.
$40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada. This research will help track the virus, its different strains, and how it makes people sick in different ways, providing valuable information to public health authorities and decision-makers as they put in place measures to control the pandemic. The results of this work will be available to researchers globally to support additional research, including Canadian vaccine development efforts.

$23 million for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) to accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19. This funding will support pre-clinical testing and clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, essential steps to ensuring that vaccines are effective and safe for human use.

$29 million for the National Research Council of Canada to begin the second phase of critical upgrades to its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal. Building on ongoing work to ready the facility for the production of vaccines for clinical trials, this funding will support operations to maintain the facility, as well as provide infrastructure to prepare vials for individual doses as soon as a vaccine becomes available.

$600 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, over two years to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector, and Canadian biomanufacturing opportunities.
$10 million for a Canadian data monitoring initiative so we can coordinate and share pandemic-related data across the country to enhance Canada’s response to COVID-19.

$10.3 million over two years, and $5 million ongoing, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials, and to enhance Canada’s capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.

$114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as its social and health impacts.

Separately, the Government of Canada is providing over $675,000 through the Stem Cell Network to support two new research projects and one clinical trial. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of a potential cell therapy to reduce the impacts and severity of acute respiratory distress associated with COVID-19, and the two projects will generate critical information about how cells in the airway and brain are affected by the virus.

“Research staff in Canada are the source of new innovations and ideas that help keep us healthy, protect our environment, and drive our economy. We are fortunate to have some of the world’s brightest minds. Today, we are making sure Canadian universities and health research institutes have the support they need to sustain their research capacity through this difficult situation, and continue to attract and retain talent, for the benefit of all Canadians," Trudeau said.