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Federal wage subsidy well received by mining industry

Relief measure will help mineral sector retain its workforce through pandemic crisis

The federal government’s wage subsidy will bring relief to mining companies and miners caught up in the pandemic crisis.

Ottawa’s March 30 announcement extending the wage subsidy to include businesses of all sizes is a critical component of a reform package that will help businesses keep workers employed as the economy works through the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).

In a statement, MAC president Pierre Gratton said many mining companies have reduced their workforces and put, often voluntarily, mines on care and maintenance.

"The support being offered through this new program will enable mining companies to retain their workforces in the face of significant economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic."

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Canada’s mining industry puts 626,000 people to work, about one of every 30 jobs.

The measure will see 75 per cent of an employee's salary up to $58,700 temporarily subsidized by government in an effort to prevent lay-offs, and the disruption to both businesses and employees associated with such actions.

Backdated to March 15, businesses and non-profit organizations seeing a drop of at least 30 per cent in revenue due to COVID-19 will be eligible for the program.

"As is the case with many sectors, mining has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, with multiple companies reducing or suspending operations at mines, smelters and refineries across Canada, resulting in tens of thousands of lay-offs of direct and indirect employees," said Gratton.

"The wage subsidy will help prevent further lay-offs, thus minimizing both the scale and extent of disruption to both businesses, employees and contractors, and better position the mining sector to resume operations and support the many thousands of individuals who depend on it for employment."