The Manitoba government has launched a wage subsidy to spur employers to hire workers who have been or will be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Healthy Hire Manitoba Program will offer up to $50,000 to local employers to help cover the wages of employees “who can attest they have been vaccinated or will be vaccinated,” according to a release from the province.
Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday the $30 million program will be open to all Manitoba-based businesses, not-for-profits and registered charities.
“The Healthy Hire Manitoba Program will incentivize employers to safely bring more employees back to work and encourage more Manitobans to get fully vaccinated,” Pallister said in the release.
“As we continue to loosen restrictions this summer as vaccination rates increase, this new wage support will help ensure a smooth and steady reopening path and support employers as they staff up to offer Manitobans the goods and services they rely on and enjoy most.”
Current COVID-19 health restrictions have closed some businesses and forced others to restrict capacity for weeks.
The province announced a loosening of those restrictions Wednesday which will see restaurants and bars allowed to open, limited to 25 per cent capacity indoors and 50 per cent on patios staring Saturday.
Hair salons, gyms and indoor sports can resume operating, but with capacity restrictions. Hair and nail salons, as well as barber shops, will be available by appointment only.
Outdoor gatherings on private property will be capped at 10 people and groups in public areas will be limited to 25.
Pallister said under the new wage subsidy eligible employers will receive a grant equivalent to 50 per cent of wages for a maximum of 10 employees, capped at $5,000 per employee hired on or before June 10 until Oct. 15.
The program will also be available for rehired employees who worked for the eligible employer in the previous year or who was laid off as a result of public health restrictions.
The program will be open to employers that are already participating in other government support programs, Pallister added.
Pallister said further details on the subsidy, including full eligibility criteria, will be posted on the province’s website next week.
Earlier in the week the province announced it is reopening a business grant program meant to support businesses through COVID-19 public health orders and closures.
Finance Minister Scott Fielding said an estimated $5 million would be available in new funding through the the Manitoba Bridge Grant program for seasonal businesses, new applicants and others affected by public health restrictions.
First launched last November, the bridge grant program provides grants of up to $5,000 to businesses and organizations affected by COVID-19 closures. The program has previously been expanded four times.
The latest round of funding will only be available to businesses that have not previously applied for the grant, such as new and seasonal businesses that were not operating as of the original Nov. 10, 2020, program deadline, Fielding said.
Eligible storefront businesses will receive $5,000 and home-based businesses will get up to $5,000 based on 10 per cent of their most recent calendar-year revenues.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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