Ottawa to extend wage subsidy program until end of year

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more details on the extension will come later this week

What happened: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Ottawa will extend its wage subsidy program until the end of the year.

Why it matters: The program brings cost relief to businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is intended to support employment.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Monday for not recusing himself from discussions about the administration of Ottawa's $900 million student volunteer program. 

WE Charity was initially selected to deliver the initiative under a nearly $20 million contract. Trudeau said he was aware of his family's ties to the organization, but unaware of the honorariums his mother and brother received for their involvement.

"It is not a surprise to me that they got paid by WE, but I did not know that they got paid by WE," Trudeau said.

"In this situation, I should have recused myself," he added, acknowledging that his involvement in Ottawa's student volunteer program has created controversy. Members of the Conservative Party of Canada have called on Trudeau to address his involvement before Ottawa's ethics committee.

"I get that. I made a mistake in not recusing myself immediately from the discussion." 

Trudeau said he will evaluate any requests to address the issue before parliament. He also said that, because of his involvement, the rollout of the student volunteer program has been a bit delayed – an outcome he deeply regrets.

In addition to addressing the issue, Trudeau said on Monday that the federal government will extend its wage subsidy program until the end of the year. More information on the extension is expected this week.

The prime minister also said he spoke with U.S. president Donald Trump earlier in the day about the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement – which took effect July 1, – Black Lives Matter, China, the two Canadians who remain detained in China and U.S. aluminum tariffs.

"I highlighted to the president that the pandemic has disrupted usual manufacturing processes and supply chains," said Trudeau. "It would be a shame to see tariffs come in between our two countries at a time when we're celebrating the new NAFTA."

Trudeau briefly told reporters to expect a joint announcement regarding the closure of the Canada-U.S. border.

Non-essential travel across the border is banned until late July.

hwoodin@biv.com

@hayleywoodin

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