(Justin Trudeau/Twitter)

In an announcement on Wednesday morning, the federal government launched an $82 billion financial assistance package for Canadian individuals and businesses.

This amount includes $27 billion in direct aid and $55 billion in tax deferrals to help the public meet liquidity needs in this time of economic turmoil.

“This $82-billion in support represents more than 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,” said Trudeau at a press conference.

For individuals

For Canadians who do not have sick pay leave that are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home and care for their children, the government is waiving the one-week waiting period to claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, effective as of March 15, 2020.

They are also introducing an Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks, administered through the Canada Revenue Agency.

This benefit is for people who meet the above criteria and do not qualify for EI, as well as parents taking care of children due to school closures regardless of whether or not they qualify for EI.

These benefits will be available starting April 2020 and can be applied for through the CRA MyAccount secure portal or the My Service Canada Account.

For those who have lost their jobs or face reduced work hours in light of COVID-19, the government is launching an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI.

Ottawa will also implement an EI Work Sharing Program to provide EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their hours in light of the pandemic for up to 76 weeks.

Over 12 million low and modest income individuals will also receive a one-time boost through the Goods and Services Tax credit by early May 2020.

On average, this payment will amount to nearly $400 for single individuals and nearly $600 for couples.


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The federal government is also proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. This extra amount will be delivered as part of the May payment.

Trudeau also proposed the creation of a $305 million Indigenous Community Support Fund for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.

There will be a six-month interest free moratorium on the repayment of student loans.

To aid seniors, the government is considering reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.

The government is also proposing a $157.5 million fund for the Reaching Home initiative to help support the country’s homeless population during this time, and up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.

In addition to these measures, the filing due date for 2019 tax returns will be deferred until June 1, 2020, and the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020 can be deferred until after August 31st, 2020.

For businesses

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.

This will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.

Corporations eligible for the small business deduction and non-profit organizations and charities will be eligible for this subsidy.

The Canada Revenue Agency will also allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.

Moreover for the next four weeks, the CRA will not contact any small or medium businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits.

Effective immediately, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, thus allowing large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.

The Bank of Canada also took steps like cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices.

On March 16th, the government also announced that it will be purchasing up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), in order to add liquidity to the country’s mortgage market.

In addition, earlier today the countries six largest banks said they will allow mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months to Canadians impacted by disruptions from the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Background

On Tuesday, B.C. joined Alberta and Ontario in declaring a public health emergency in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would be tightening its borders and denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada. U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule.

Moreover international flights will now be restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 208,475.

Nearly 8,350 people have died from the illness and 82,909 have made a full recovery.