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Wage subsidy extension crucial or millions of jobs at risk: tourism industry

Last Updated Sep 17, 2020 at 11:55 am PDT

FILE - Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament hill Tuesday August 18, 2020 in Ottawa. The federal government ran a deficit of just over $120.3 billion during the first three months of its 2020-2021 fiscal year as the treasury pumped out aid to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A group representing tourism, hotel sectors says if Ottawa winds down wage subsidy program millions of jobs will be lost

The Hotel Association of Canada says the program should be extended until at least next summer

PM is meeting with Opposition Thursday and Friday to discuss priorities ahead of next week's throne speech

OTTAWA — A group of industries that says it is hit hardest during the pandemic is calling on the federal government to scrap its plans to wind down the wage subsidy program and extend it until next summer.

The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses says the phaseout of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program beginning this month could mean the loss of millions of tourism jobs.

The government is going to start winding down the wage subsidy, which covers up to 75 per cent of payroll for businesses struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Canada’s wage subsidy program extended until December

This comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with Opposition leaders Thursday to discuss what they want to see in next week’s throne speech.

The group representing the tourism, hotel and special events sectors want the program extended to at least until summer 2021.

The group argues as the summer wraps up and a second wave on the horizon, their industries are going to see another major revenue drop, and 2 million jobs are at stake.

Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, says the government can’t abandon these businesses.

“We are not in recovery. We are still in an emergency and that emergency is palpable, it’s real.”

She says the group understands and supports ongoing health restriction,  but the pandemic has created Depression-era conditions, and operators are increasingly reporting they will go under if support is not extended.

“Our employees are at the heart of our businesses,” says Charlotte Bell, with the tourism industry association. “These employees are predominantly women, young Canadians, new Canadians, and Indigenous people.”

Trudeau meets with the Greens and Bloc Québécois Thursday and will speak with the NDP and Conservatives Friday.