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Wage subsidy could be game changer: Chamber

The Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce is thrilled with Friday’s promise made by the federal government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a 75 percent wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses is in the works.

The announcement comes just a week after the PM said a similar program, with a 10 percent wage subsidy, was deemed insufficient.

“We knew that it was a start and it helped, but it was never going to be enough,” says Grande Prairie Chamber Chair Larry Gibson. “We’ve been pushing that message up through chambers across the country, and we didn’t think this bold of a move would be made, but that 75 percent is pretty amazing to see and it’s definitely going to help our small and medium-size businesses immensely to get through this.”

Despite further details not expected to be fully released until at least Monday, the government has said the new measures will introduce a 75 percent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses for up to 3 months retroactive to March 15. Gibson says the news could make a vast difference in the region, which has a high number of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs.

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“I would have to say probably 70 percent of our business community is small and medium-size business, so it’s huge when you’re looking at it [from] the grand scale of things.”

Gibson adds, despite what he believes was a slow reaction by the Trudeau government, the right steps are now being taken.

“They may have underestimated the impacts at first, but they’re certainly stepping up and putting the programs in place that will help get us through this and I commend them on the effort.”

In a tweet, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce commented on the announcement, suggesting the 75 percent wage subsidy is “exactly what the doctor ordered,” adding that the news will increase business owners’ abilities to keep staff on payroll.

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