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Coronavirus: Montreal-area merchant relieved by federal wage subsidy offer

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Trudeau's promise of a 75 per cent wage subsidy for businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic is welcome news for many merchants who are struggling to stay afloat and keep employees on their payroll. Global's Tim Sargeant reports – Mar 27, 2020

Some much needed relief has finally arrived for the owner of Lingerie DEBra.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is offering wage subsidies of 75 per cent for small businesses that have furloughed workers or are about to lay off employees due to COVID-19.

“I was looking at having to let everybody go. And this will help me look at it and see if I can keep people on the payroll and go from there,” Debbie Donelle told Global News.

The cheques will be retroactive to March 15.

READ MORE: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic

The forced closure of non-essential business has been devastating to the national economy as well as in greater Montreal.

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Streets downtown are devoid of cars and pedestrians while stores are closed, with signs reading “Fermé” hanging from many windows.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic' Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic – Mar 27, 2020

It’s the same thing in the suburbs.

Many merchants in the Pointe-Claire Village depend on a high volume of pedestrian traffic. Now some independent store owners have to rely on online sales to maintain revenues — often an enormous challenge when competing with major online retail corporations.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has been asking for the 75 per cent wage subsidy since March 18.

The V.P. of National Affairs at the CFIB is thrilled with the prime minister’s offer.

“Employers will not have to lay off their staff as much as we have seen so far,” Jasmin Guenette told Global News.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal business owners struggle as revenues dry up amid pandemic

The federal government is also offering up to $40,000 in interest free loans for small businesses.

Donelle has seven employees.

The new wage subsidy will help the business owner keep employees on the payroll.

She is trying to survive on phone orders and online shopping, but Donelle and many other merchants just hope the coronavirus crisis will end so she can re-open her doors and start receiving foot traffic.