Canada’s Big 3 wireless carriers have received tens of millions of federal government subsidies, new filings show.
Recent filings in provincial lobbyist registries reveal Rogers, Bell, and Telus have collected over $240 million from the federal wage subsidy program while continuing to pay out billions of dollars in dividends to shareholders, reports The Star.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was set to help businesses cope with the devastating effects of COVID-19. Here’s what each carrier has received so far:
- Bell: $122.9 million
- Rogers: $82.3 million
- Telus: $38.6 million
Despite the wage subsidies, Bell and Rogers have laid-off employees at media divisions, while both companies have also increased dividend payments to shareholders. Bell recently axed over 200 jobs in the Toronto area, while Rogers cut sports and other media positions last fall.
“CEWS is sold as a wage subsidy, but it’s really a business expense subsidy,” said Professor Amin Mawani to The Star.
The Liberal MP for Beaches-East York in Toronto, Nate Erskine-Smith, said companies have abused the federal government’s goodwill.
“These companies are not in real need,” said Nate, adding “this notion of, ‘We are all in this together’ breaks down when you have taxpayers stepping in to support dividend payments to shareholders.”
Under the current rules of the Canadian program, businesses with any level of revenue decline are eligible for a subsidy with respect to all their Canadian employees.
Bell told The Star it has not applied for further CEWS funding since last November, noting, “job losses in media and retail would have been unavoidable in 2020 without CEWS support.”