A provincial government program subsidizing student summer job wages is being expanded to include employees of all ages.
Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday morning the Manitoba Back to Work This Summer initiative to expand eligibility of the Manitoba Summer Student Jobs Recovery Program.
Between the two programs, the provincial government has earmarked $120 million to help small businesses pay up to five employees until Aug. 30. The government will pay 50 per cent of wages, up to $5,000, for employees, and businesses can claim up to $25,000 over the summer months.
Pallister suggested the wage-subsidy program would free up cash for businesses to cover precautionary pandemic costs required to reopen and welcome customers back during the next phase of reopening.
"Ad hoc programs around shields and so on would be less effective, harder to deliver, much more expensive to deliver and they would be not directly linked to the ability that all of our small businesses need to have to get people back to work," Pallister said.
"We’ve designed our programs precisely for the purpose of helping people get back to work because that is the major foundational factor that allows small businesses to operate."
So far, the provincial government has spent about $16 million from the summer student jobs program to fund more than 3,200 jobs.
Employers will have to prove to the government that wages were paid to employees hired after June 18 before receiving a lump-sum wage-reimbursement payment.
Pallister said conversations are ongoing with the federal government to make commercial rent assistance accessible to businesses in Manitoba. The provincial government, however, is focusing its attention on job creation and wage support, Pallister said.
"Most certainly the (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance) program is one which addresses one part of the business's overhead," he said. "We're focused today on our announcement which will assist, to the tune of 50 per cent, on wage offset for workers.
"That is the single largest category of expenditure for most of our businesses in Manitoba.
Businesses can apply to receive funding for all positions filled by workers legally entitled to work in Canada, including students. Immediate family members of employers are ineligible for the provincial wage subsidy.
Positions already subsidized by other government programs will not be eligible for the Manitoba Back to Work This Summer initiative. Charities, not-for-profit organizations and public-sector employers are also ineligible. Intake for the Non-Profit Summer Student Incentive Grant began June 16. Approximately 300 funding applications are under review, the province said.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
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Updated on Thursday, June 18, 2020 at 2:19 PM CDT: corrects day of announcement