Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $27-billion in direct support, and $55-billion in tax deferrals for Canadians on Wednesday while agreeing to temporarily close the border with the United States to non-essential travel.
Trudeau said he spoke with American President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning, and they both agreed to temporarily close their mutual border.
“Essential travel will continue,” clarified Trudeau. “Our governments recognize that it is critical that we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.”
Supply chains such as trucking are not affected by the closure, while Canadians and Americans that cross the border every day for essential work or for urgent reasons will also not be impacted by Wednesday’s announcement.
Trudeau also announced $82-billion in total aid to Canadians in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, helping families, employees, and businesses. The amount represents more than 3% of Canada’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Employees who do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) and are forced to self-isolate or taking care of family members that have COVID-19 symptoms will be eligible to receive money every two weeks for up to 14 weeks. The new Emergency Care Benefit (ECB) will pay out similarily to EI.
A new COVID-19 Emergency Support Benefit (ESB) has also been implemented for those that have lost or will lose their job and do not qualify for EI. The ESB will also apply to those that are self-employed and had to close their business because of the virus.
Trudeau said small business employers will also get a temporary 10% wage subsidy to help pay employees for up to 3 months in an effort to encourage owners to keep their employees on payroll.
The Canadian Government is pushing back deadlines for taxes, giving until August 2020 to pay.
Trudeau announced they would also boost the Child Care Benefit (CCB) in the coming months and will boost GST credits in May. Low-income families will see an increase in GST cheques of up to $300 with an extra $150 per child in the family.
People paying off student loans will see a six-month interest free moratorium on their Canada student loans.
Trudeau said the Reaching Home Program is being doubled to help homeless people and provide funding to communities to address their local needs. Anyone fleeing domestic or gender-based violence, Trudeau said they will be boosting funding for shelters that provide sanctuary to those affected individuals.
As well, the federal government is setting up a distinctions-based Indigenous Communities Support Fund to immediately support the needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities across Canada.
“This list is by no means exhaustive but these are some of the things our government is doing to make sure that no matter where you live, what you do, or who are you, you will get the support you need during this time,” said Trudeau. “In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations.”
On the economic side, Trudeau announced improvements from Export Development Canada to support businesses impacted by the global slide in markets.
Farm Credit Canada is getting a financial boost for farmers and primary food producers.
“Economic measures will ensure that our economy rebounds after this,” said Trudeau. “While we are taking a significant step today to help families to get through these challenging times, our government is prepared to do more.”
“Whether we are talking about economic, travel, or health measures, collaboration and coordination remains essential,” continued Trudeau. “Our team is in constant communication with our colleagues in the provinces and territories as well as Indigenous leaders and communities to ensure that we have a coordinated Canada-wide approach so we face this and recover from this together.”
Closing his daily address, Trudeau urged Canadians to stay home and to offer a helping hand to the most vulnerable and those in need.
Trudeau specifically called out the frontline workers helping keep Canada safe and healthy, from grocers keeping their shelves stocked, postal workers helping people stay home, pharmacists filling prescriptions, health care professionals caring for the most vulnerable, and public health officials and first responders looking out for the safety of Canadians.
“I know its a hard time but that’s exactly why we need to keep supporting each other,” said Trudeau as he closed his address. “Our government is here for you and your fellow Canadians are here for you too.”