Canada’s employment minister is signalling that the coronavirus wage subsidy program — which allows businesses to retain or rehire staff amid the pandemic — may be extended by a matter of months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the 12-week Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) would be available past its original end date in early June, with details to come next week.

But Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough shed some light on the possible timeline of program’s extension in an interview with Mercedes Stephenson on The West Block Sunday.

“I think it will be in the months range,” she said, adding that the matter hasn’t been settled yet.

In part, the government wants to see how the newly-launched program affects enrolment in its coronavirus income-support measure, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Qualtrough said.

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“The more people get back on the payroll, the less people we anticipate accessing the CERB, the more, then, we may look to extend the wage subsidy, but perhaps look at alternatives to the CERB.”

“So we really need the next one or two weeks to see how this all interacts.”

2:16Coronavirus outbreak: Government says 1.7 million workers now covered under federal wage subsidy

Coronavirus outbreak: Government says 1.7 million workers now covered under federal wage subsidy
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