OTTAWA ANNOUNCES $82B IN ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR CANADIANS, BUSINESSES

Mar 18, 2020

By Bob Komsic

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $27-billion in direct support to workers and businesses and $55-billion in tax deferrals to weather the pandemic.
The aid package includes a wage subsidy for small-business owners to help keep staff on the payroll during the slowdown.

There’ll be an emergency care benefit  for those who fall ill, have to self-isolate or must care for a family member with COVID-19, but don’t qualify for employment insurance.There will also be an emergency support benefit for those who lose their jobs and don’t qualify for E-I, including self-employed workers who have to close up shop.

Ottawa intends to boost the Canada Child Benefit to help parents cover the cost of child care or other impacts of having to remain at home.

Other measures would include a G-S-T credit for low-income Canadians, boosting support for shelters to help those escaping gender-based violence and a six-month suspension on repayment of student loans.

The package calls for reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RIFFs) by 25% for 2020, given the volatile market and the impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the government’s hoping to roll out the direct aid within 3 weeks, and if it can be done sooner, it will be.
The government house leader says all parties have agreed to return to Parliament Hill, likely next week, in order to pass the measures.
Canadians will not have to file their tax returns until June 1 and can defer individual or business payments until September 1.
Prime Minister Trudeau spoke to Donald Trump earlier and they agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border, meaning for recreation or tourism.
Ottawa and Washington are working on just when that will happen, but Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says it’ll likely be a matter of days or hours. 
Trudeau adds essential travel will continue to preserve the supply chains that bring both countries food, medicine and other vital products.
Asked if the government was looking at restricting travel within Canada, the prime minister adds his government is looking at using the Emergencies Act, but recognizes that would be a major step he does not think is necessary right now.
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