Trudeau pushes wage subsidy as another small business aid program is delayed

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit a gourmet cafe in Quebec today to underline his plea to small business owners to use the federal wage subsidy program to rehire workers.

But his visit to Biscotti & cie in the village of Chelsea comes at the same time that the federal government is delaying the start-date for another program that was supposed to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau took to Twitter late Thursday to announce that the promised expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account to include small owner-operated businesses will not launch today as scheduled.

The CEBA, which provides interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000, has been expanded twice to include more businesses.

Several weeks ago, the government announced the program was to be expanded again to include companies with payrolls of less than $20,000 and with non-deferrable expenses, like rent, utilities and property taxes, of between $40,000 and $1.5 million.

The change was intended to cover owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their small payrolls, sole proprietors who receive business income directly and family-owned operations that pay family members in the form of dividends.