Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Party and Sask. NDP not applying for federal wage subsidy

Saskatchewan's two major provincial political parties say they are not applying for a Canadian emergency wage subsidy program to help pay their employees, unlike their federal counterparts.

Federal Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens have all applied

The three major federal parties are applying for an emergency wage subsidy, but Saskatchewan's two provincial parties say they are not. From left to right: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press; Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press; Ben Nelms/CBC)

Saskatchewan's two major provincial political parties say they are not applying for a Canadian emergency wage subsidy program to help pay their employees, unlike their federal counterparts.

The federal Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green parties all have applied for relief through the Canadian emergency wage subsidy, which floats up to $847 a week for each employee a business, charity or non-profit organization has on the payroll.

The Bloc Québécois has said it will not use the program to cover wages.

The federal Liberals, Conservatives and NDP employ about 200 workers and collectively could get $700,000 from the federal government to cover salaries.

Provincial parties have far fewer employees than federal parties.

"We will not be utilizing this program," said Saskatchewan Party executive director Patrick Bundrock on Monday.

"We have not applied for the wage subsidy at this time," said Saskatchewan NDP CEO John Tzupa.

"We took a hiatus from fundraising efforts and postponed all events from mid-March for about six weeks."

Tzupa said the party is nominating five candidates Monday night in its first "physically distanced contested nominations."

The United Conservative Party, which is Alberta's governing party, is applying for the program.

Federal parties applications criticized

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said it was "absolutely unacceptable" for parties like the Liberals and the Conservatives to make use of a program originally intended to help small- and medium-sized businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

While donations have dipped, Blanchet said the two largest parties still managed to rake in millions of dollars in donations earlier this year. The Liberals, Conservative and New Democrats collectively raised about $7.7 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his party's application, saying in French that the government "must be able to support Canadians no matter what organization or company they work for."

Two federal Conservative leadership candidates criticized parties taking the subsidy. 

"We should not be bailed out by taxpayer money with millions unemployed and small businesses struggling to stay afloat," Peter McKay said.

Erin O'Toole said he would direct his party to repay the funds if he's elected leader.

"Canadians have sacrificed enough. They shouldn't have to pay for wage subsidies for political parties," O'Toole said.

with files from CBC's John Paul Tasker

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