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Keeping you afloat: Feds primed to announce multi-billion dollar virus relief stimulus package

Last Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 6:32 am PDT

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau takes part in a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Friday, March 13, 2020. Morneau is poised to announce billions in federal aid to help cushion the financial shock of the COVID-19 outbreak on Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds expected to announce multi-billion dollar stimulus package in effort to help Canadians impacted by COVID-19

It’s anticipated to include at least $20-billion in spending

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $10-billion credit fund for businesses last Friday

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – We’re already seeing some local businesses close permanently as the COVID-19 pandemic forces people to stay home.

But on Wednesday, some relief is expected from the federal government in the form of a sweeping multi-billion dollar stimulus package.

It’s anticipated to include at least $20-billion in spending, one per cent of the value of the entire national economy.

It’s also widely expected to include direct payments to Canadians who are struggling as a result of the novel coronavirus, through things like temporary increases in the Canada Child Benefit, as well as grants to workers who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance.

Measures previously announced will also see the waiting period waived for those who do qualify for EI.

“Canada is in a fortunate position in that we have the fiscal firepower to act and we will,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said. “And I really want to assure Canadians the federal government will do what it takes to get us through this crisis and to ensure that Canadian workers, Canadian businesses are in a position to come roaring back.”

Last Friday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $10-billion credit fund, which will lend money to businesses to help keep the running.

COVID-19 has hit almost every sector of the economy, with the Canadian dollar also taking a hit, dropping below 70 cents U.S. Wednesday morning.

The virus has forced provinces to declare public health emergencies, and has also pushed a number of companies – big and small – to shut down, either temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.

Vancouver-based Semperviva Yoga studios are among those that aren’t able to weather the storm, shuttering operations for good after 25 years in business.

Meanwhile, Ikea Canada has become the latest major retailer to close its doors across the country in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, two separate surveys pointed to the impacts of the virus on people’s livelihoods, with one finding one-in-10 Canadians has already lost hours at work while another said a full quarter of small firms don’t think they’ll be able to last a month if their incomes drop by half.

There have been more than 560 cases of COVID-19 across Canada since the beginning of the outbreak, which has since been declared a pandemic. So far, eight deaths have been linked to the virus.

-With files from The Canadian Press