OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $27-billion that will directly support Canadian businesses and workers hard-hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
An additional $55-billion has also been announced in tax deferrals. The $82-billion total represents an amount equal to three per cent of Canada’s GDP, Trudeau noted.
“In these extraordinary times, our government is taking extraordinary measures,” the prime minister said outside Rideau Cottage on Wednesday.
The spending goes well beyond what many were expecting, however, the amount was expected to exceed $20-billion.
The direct supports include an emergency support benefit for people who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance, a boost to the Canada Child Benefit, and a supplement for the GST tax credit for low income Canadians. Measures also include a wage subsidy for small-business owners to help keep staff on the payroll during the slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus.
Many Canadians will also get an extension when it comes to paying income taxes.
“For those who’ve filed their taxes and find out that they owe money, they will have until August 2020 to pay,” Trudeau explained.
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The prime minister, who has been in self-isolation since his wife tested positive for COVID-19, said the government is still open to taking more measures moving forward. He noted that while declaring a national state of emergency is a last resort, he is not ruling it out as an option.
“No matter where you live, what you do, or who you are, you will get the support you need during this time,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau will have to recall parliament to pass many of these measures with legislation, however, he said he’s confident MPs from all parties ill support immediate passage.
The $82-billion financial aid package is on top of $10-billion in aid announced last week. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that money would be made available to businesses impacted by the outbreak through a credit facility program.
Morneau said Canada has the “strongest and most resilient banking system in the world,” which is what allowed the country stay afloat during the financial crisis of 2008.
He pointed out the credit facility program was an effective tool during that time, and believes it will be one this time around, too.
-With files from Richard Dettman