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Trudeau unveils $82 billion package to help Canadians, employers weather COVID-19

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March 18, 2020
By Todd Humber

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a wide-ranging economic plan to tackle the coronavirus and support employers through this extraordinary time.

He enumerated more than $82 billion in spending and credits — an eye-popping amount that is equal to three per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

Trudeau summed up his message to Canadians thusly.

“You will get the support you need during this time,” he said. “In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations.”


A quick runthrough of the changes.

The U.S border

Trudeau confirmed the border with the United States is closing temporarily, a decision made jointly with the U.S. government.

“Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism,” he said.

But the border is staying open for trade.

“Our governments recognize it is critical that we preserve supply chains between both countries,” said Trudeau. “Supply chains, including trucking, will not be affected by this new measure.”

Nor does the closure apply to workers who cross the border — for example, many residents of Windsor, Ont. cross the border daily to Detroit to work at hospitals and other health-care facilities.


Trudeau acknowledged the outbreak is “forcing us all to change our ways, and for many people that’s a huge adjustment.”

He wants Canadians to be focused on their health — and that of their neighbours — and not if they’re going to lose their jobs or run out of money for groceries.

The measures announced today will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, he said. Plus there is an additional $55 billion in tax deferrals to employers to help stabilize the economy.

More details to come but the announcements include:

  • Emergency care benefit: Money paid every two weeks for workers who have to stay home because of COVID0-19. Running for 14 weeks, it will be an amount comparable to what workers would receive under employment insurance, said Trudeau. It is designed for people who fall ill, are placed in quarantine or have to self-isolate and who don’t qualify for EI.
  • Wage subsidy: Ottawa will provide employers a subsidy of up to 10 per cent of salary for three months to encourage companies to keep employers on the payroll. It’s temporary and for “small employers,” Trudeau said, without defining the criteria.
  • Taxes: Workers who filed tax returns and owe money have until August 2020 to pay.
  • Child care benefit: Ottawa is offering a temporary boost in the benefit.
  • GST credit: Credit being increased for May up to $300 and with $150 additional for every child.
  • Student loans: The government is putting a six-month interest free moratorium on Canada Student Loans.
  • Domestic violence: Boosting funding for shelters when self-isolating at home is simply not an option for victims of domestic violence.
  • First Nations: Setting up a distinctions-based Indigenous community support fund.

This is a breaking story. More details to come.

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