Wage subsidies providing ‘safety net’ for companies, employees

Government cheques
Editor's Note

The Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey is a comprehensive annual research project that explores what’s ahead for the city’s economy based on surveys with hundreds of business leaders. Read their insights and understand the factors shaping business confidence in Ottawa, in this exclusive report.

As many businesses grappled with a sudden and dramatic drop in revenues this spring, the federal government quickly rolled out several COVID-19 financial support programs that included wage and commercial rent subsidies.

While some Ottawa businesses say these programs played a critical role in helping them weather the pandemic, the results of the Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey suggests the impact – and takeup – of these initiatives was uneven.

Bar chart of impact of government relief measures

For those businesses that were able to take advantage of these programs, the government measures have been very effective in helping employers keep their doors open, says Jim McConnery, partner at Welch LLP. 

“What is impressive and what’s had a very meaningful impact is that the programs were rolled out relatively quickly,” he says. He says the wage subsidy program in particular played a major role in keeping employees at work and the economy moving forward. 

“It was really a safety net for lots of companies that experienced a significant downturn in revenue and continues to keep employees on the payroll,” he says. 

There are concerns, however, about the massive financial costs of these programs if an economic recovery is slow to materialize.

“All levels of government will face some tough decisions in the next few years given a need to address deficits while at the same time providing ongoing support to the economy” adds McConnery. “This makes the strength and pace of economic recovery difficult to predict.”

Read the full 2020 Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey report by clicking on the cover below:

OBGS 2020 cover