World Politics

Chinese state-owned companies tapped into Canada's wage subsidy despite diplomatic dispute

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Key Points
  • A Canadian government online database lists the units of China Petroleum and Chemicals, also known as Sinopec, CNOOC as well as PetroChina among recipients of the wage subsidy, but it does not reveal the value of the subsidies.
  • Canada's 2018 arrest of a Huawei Technologies executive on a U.S. extradition request angered Beijing, and China subsequently jailed two Canadians in a move that Ottawa has said was without cause.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government launched the wage subsidy last spring and the program has so far paid out C$57 billion ($44.9 billion) in claims.
This picture taken on December 5, 2017, shows Canadian and Chinese flags taken prior to a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China's President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
Fred Dufour | AFP | Getty Images

Some Chinese state-owned enterprises operating in Canada have tapped into Ottawa's wage subsidy program aimed at saving jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, despite a dispute between the two governments.

A Canadian government online database lists the units of China Petroleum and Chemicals, also known as Sinopec, CNOOC as well as PetroChina among recipients of the wage subsidy, but it does not reveal the value of the subsidies.

Bank of China, Air China and China Southern Airlines also appear on the list.

Canada's 2018 arrest of a Huawei Technologies executive on a U.S. extradition request angered Beijing, and China subsequently jailed two Canadians in a move that Ottawa has said was without cause.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government launched the wage subsidy last spring and the program has so far paid out C$57 billion ($44.9 billion) in claims, including hundreds of multi-million dollar claims. The subsidy covers up to 75% of a worker's wages up to a maximum benefit of C$847 per week.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the purpose of the wage subsidy was to protect Canadian jobs and applies to businesses of all size.

"We recognize that some state-owned enterprises have accessed the program to support jobs in Canada. We continue to actively assess adjustments to the Wage Subsidy," Katherine Cuplinskas said.

A representative for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa could not immediately be reached for comment.