By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada’s government unveiled a new plan Monday to provide 75% wage subsidies to businesses due to the coronavirus, but warned of “serious consequences” for those who try to cheat the system.
Under the initiative, any business that has at least a 30% drop in revenue can get up to 75% of the first $58,700 of an employees’ annual wage, or $847 a week, provided the employee remains on the payroll whether working or not, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his daily press conference.
And he encouraged businesses to pay the other 25% to employees.
“We are trusting you to do the right thing,” he said. “If you have the means to pay the other 25 percent that is not covered by the subsidy, do it. And if you think this is a system you can game or take advantage of, don’t.”
He promised “serious consequences” for any business that abused the funds.
In other developments, it was announced Monday that nine residents of an Ontario long-term care home have died from the virus since last Wednesday.
“There will be more deaths,” said Dr. Michelle Snarr, the home’s medical director. “It’s grim, it’s heartbreaking.”
As of noon Monday, there are nearly 7,300 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 70 deaths.
Health officials believe the number is higher because there are people suspected of having the virus but have not yet been tested.
Also as of noon Monday, anyone showing signs of the virus will not be allowed to board trains or airplanes for travel within Canada.
At sea, the cruise ship Zaandam, with four deaths from the coronavirus and carrying 1,243 passengers – 247 of them Canadians – expected to dock in Florida Monday but that may not happen.
“We have enough to deal with, with our folks in Florida,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Monday.
The Province of Nova Scotia announced Monday it was extending its school closures to May 1, while in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford extended the province’s state of emergency for another two weeks. It was to expire Tuesday.
Canada has ordered the mobilization of 24,000 full-and part-time troops assembled into rapid response teams to answer calls for assistance from provinces and remote Indigenous communities, said Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, Monday.