PM wants employers to re-hire, cites ‘enormous financial pressure’ being felt

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his 65th morning press conference to implore Canadian businesses to re-hire their employees, noting that while the COVID-19 pandemic turned lives “upside down,” seeing as many Canadians back to work as possible will be key to Canada’s economic recovery.

“During the first few weeks of the crisis, people’s lives were turned upside down. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians lost their job through no fault of their own, without warning, because of this pandemic. It put enormous financial pressure on everyone from students, to young professionals, to families,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

He then cited some of the massive social and financial assistance programs that have been launched over the last two months and are sending billions of dollars out the door, and noted that as of Wednesday there are 45,000 job postings up on the federal job bank for young people looking for work this summer.  

Questions still remain about whether the programs—including $9 billion in student financial assistance programs and coming commercial rent relief plan—have been enough to keep businesses and industries afloat.

More than 8 million Canadians continue to claim the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but the government has hoped that as more businesses are allowed to reopen they would bring back laid off staff with the help of a 75 per cent wage subsidy, meaning the employees would no longer collect CERB. Take-up for the wage subsidy program continues to be lower than anticipated.

So far, 284,038 applications have been accepted for the subsidy program, totaling $7.9 billion in funding.

“Maintaining the connection between employer and employee is key not just to helping people get back on their feet, but to keeping our economy strong. That’s why it’s so important that employers take advantage of this program and rehire their workers,” Trudeau said.

Now, with the first wave of the novel coronavirus appearing to be largely on the decline, the focus appears to be beginning to shift from emergency triage to conversations about cracks the pandemic has exposed in various systems and institutions. 

Another report on the reality inside long-term care homes — showing some of the same shortcomings as exposed in Ontario — in Quebec was released on Wednesday. The deadly respiratory virus has had an especially pronounced impact on seniors in Canada, prompting the military to be deployed to 30 homes across both provinces. 

Trudeau vowed Wednesday to raise what is happening in nursing homes and long-term care facilities on his regular Thursday call with the premiers, and restated the offer of federal assistance in getting the situation under control.

“We need to do a better job of caring for seniors… They deserve better,” Trudeau said.

So far, more than 87,000 people in Canada have tested positive, with nearly 35,000 of those still active cases. 

Source: CTV News