Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled a massive proposal for emergency aid, which includes $27 billion in direct assistance for Canadians and businesses and another $55 billion in tax deferrals to help people survived the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.
The sweeping spending package is equivalent to three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, and is seen broadly as the necessary step to avoid a recession.
Ottawa is offering direct assistance for Canadians who don’t qualify or employment insurance or don’t have access to paid sick leave. They will receive up to $900 biweekly for 15 weeks.
“There are many families across this country who are looking at their sources of income drying up because of COVID-19,” he said. “Many workers do not qualify for EI. Therefore we are putting in place exceptional measures that will flow money to them every two weeks.”
Emergency support is also on the way for self-employed and part time-workers who don’t qualifiy for employment insurance.
Small business owners will also receive temporary wage subsidies that will be equal to 10 per cent of salary paid to employees for a period of three months.
“This will encourage employers to keep staff on the payroll during this uncertain time,” Mr. Trudeau said.
He added that tax filings have been delayed and he promised more targeted measures for “individuals who are particularly affected by the virus or are in vulnerable position.” Individuals will not have to file their tax returns until June 1 and can defer any payments until after August 31.
In May, Ottawa will boost the GST credit to help lower income people, which is a tax-free payment send to Canadians.
“Every adult who qualifies will receive up to $300 with $150 for every child,” Mr. Trudeau said.
The government is also placing a moratorium on repayment of student loans.
“For people experiencing homelessness we are doubling the Reaching Home program that provides funding for communities to address their local needs,” he said. A separate fund is being set up to help Indigenous communities.
“No matter where you live or who you are, you will get the support you need during this time,” Mr. Trudeau said.