CME urges government to adopt direct wage subsidies through employers in response to COVID-19 outbreak, EI system overload

OTTAWA (March 25, 2020) – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is calling on the government to provide direct wage subsidies through employers amidst COVID-19 crisis in an effort to keep employees on the payroll and to help reduce the strain on the Employment Insurance (EI) system.

“Manufacturers welcome the actions taken by the government so far, but as the crisis intensifies, more supports are desperately needed,” said Dennis Darby, President & CEO of CME. “Direct wage subsidies have shown positive results in several European and Asian countries that have adopted these measures.”

More than 1 million Canadians have been laid-off so far as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The backlog on the EI system is already 8 weeks for application processing and benefit distribution, putting considerable strain on Canadian families.  “The current approach of expanding the EI system is unsustainable and not beneficial to the economy long-term,” added Darby. “Providing a base wage subsidy through the employer allows the government to leverage existing payroll systems, reduce pressure on the EI system, and continuing the tie between worker and employer making it easier to restart operations.”

Stated Darby, “Manufacturing is an essential service. To produce the critical goods Canada need to curb the spread of COVID-19, manufacturing and its complex inter-provincial and international supply chains must be able to continue operating. Direct wages subsidies through employers would enable businesses keep production workers employed throughout the crisis.”


Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.


Stefi Proulx
Director of Communications
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
C:  613-292-6070 | | @CME_MEC