Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Gary Vidal has written to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau expressing concern that many First Nations businesses are excluded from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program as the business is classified as a limited partnership.

The subsidy program created in response to COVID-19 “would provide a 75 per cent wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020,” according the federal government.

Yet this gap is creating hardship for northern businesses across all sectors. “There’s forestry, mining, manufacturing, the hospitality industry and the retail sector. There’s so many businesses in Northern Saskatchewan that are impacted by this,” Vidal explained.

Vidal raised concern with the program April, 7, days before Parliament passed new initiatives to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, and confirmed with Finance officials that that limited partner businesses are excluded.

“Most businesses seem to be eligible for this, if they’ve seen a decline in revenue. We think this should apply to this business model as well,” Vidal said.

Vidal said he didn’t think the federal government intentionally did this, rather an oversight given the rapid movement of the response to the coronavirus.  He said Morneau pledged to look into his concerns.