Warns that social distancing measures/closures could last months
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that “extraordinary” measures to contain the virus could be in place for weeks or months even as he promised more help for struggling Canadians.
He said the unprecedented measures in place now — such as travel restrictions, social distancing protocols and business closures — could continue for some time as political leaders follow the advice of medical experts.
Trudeau also said support will be on the way for retirees who have seen a dramatic drop in their savings due to “massive” market disruptions.
Earlier Thursday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Canadians worried about having enough money to pay for food, rent and medication can expect emergency funds in two to three weeks.
The government has waived the one-week wait for employment insurance sickness benefits and announced a series of new measures Wednesday to help Canadians and businesses taking a financial hit from the pandemic.
Wednesday’s $82-billion emergency response package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion in tax deferrals.
The supports aim to help Canadians pay for rent and groceries, to help businesses continue to meet payroll and pay bills, and to stabilize the economy.
The emergency aid plan includes:
- A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
- A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
- A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
- A six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
- Doubling the homeless care program.
- Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1.
- Allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31 tax payments that are due after today and before September.
- $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
- Other measures include a GST credit for low-income Canadians and special support for the homeless and shelters helping people escaping gender-based violence.
- The government is also working with the private sector to find ways to help Canadians. Banks, for example, could be flexible with mortgage and loan payments to help people who are struggling financially.