Canada’s federal government has announced an unprecedented financial aid package worth more than $82 billion aimed at helping both individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In these extraordinary times, our government is taking extraordinary measures,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday morning. “In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations.”
Comprised of $27 billion in direct support for Canadians and $55 billion meant to help business liquidity through tax deferrals, Trudeau’s massive package represents roughly 3 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP.
The Prime Minister expects support funds to start flowing within weeks, and assured reporters on Wednesday that the spend will not drive Canada into a recession, thanks to the country’s strong economic footing in recent years.
Among the resources available to individual Canadians will be:
- Temporary income support for workers and parents without paid sick leave who are quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children
- Extended EI benefits and the elimination of a one-week waiting period for EI payments
- The extension of this year’s tax filing deadline until June
- A one-time special payment for over 12 million low- and modest-income families (around $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples) by May 2020
- A new “Emergency Care Benefit” providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks, for workers who are sick with COVID-19 (or caring for an infected family member) but do not qualify for EI benefits
Residents will be able to apply for the above-listed Emergency Care Benefits in April, at which point they will be assessed for their eligibility. Details for how to apply can be found here.
Trudeau says these financial supports are meant to help Canadians pay for such essentials as groceries and rent, despite the loss of jobs or reduction of hours due to pandemic-related closures and illness.
“No Canadian should have to worry about paying their rent or buying groceries during this difficult time,” said the Prime Minster on Wednesday.
“That is why we are taking the strong action needed to stabilize our economy and help those impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Together, we will get through this difficult time.”
The government is similarly taking action to help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during these economically uncertain times.
Business-targeted relief measures announced today by the federal government include:
- Allowing the deferral of all income tax payments until September, interest and penalty-free
- Increasing the amount of credit available to all small, medium, and large Canadian businesses
- The expansion of Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses
- Increased flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses in the national interest
- Launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, is expected to speak more to these supports during a second press conference on Wednesday.
“The Government of Canada will do whatever it takes to ensure that the health of Canadians is protected, families and businesses are supported and our economy remains strong, even in the face of uncertainty,” he said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
“Canadians can rest assured that we are ready to take all necessary measures to meet the challenges ahead.”