REGINA -- An increase to the wage subsidy for small and medium sized businesses is being welcomed by the CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce after he says many employers calling for more assistance.

The federal government is boosting the wage subsidy to 75 per cent, up from the previously promised 10 per cent.

“Not a lot of details, but it will help some businesses, there’s no question about that. 75 per cent is a pretty significant subsidy,” Regina & District Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins said.

A special emergency business account will be made for small businesses. Banks will offer $40,000 dollar government-guaranteed loans interest-free for the first year. If the company can repay the balance of the loan by the end of 2022, up to $10,000 will be forgiven.

As well, HST and GST payments and customs duties are being deferred until June.

Co-owner of Fresh and Sweet, Allison Sweet, says the store has laid off 30 employees since the COVID-19 outbreak, but now the store will no longer be letting anyone go, thanks to the subsidy increase.

“To be able to bank roll 90 percent of that payroll with our having any income is not manageable for a small business,” Sweet said. “Because the details aren’t there we’re not really sure, but we would be able to retain a couple more staff I think”

More details regarding the program are expected to be released over the weekend.