Thursday, 09 April, 2020

New COVID-19 benefit promises fast relief during crisis

Parliament Hill sign1 MV Parliament Hill sign
Deanna Wagner | 26 March, 2020, 20:37

Over 400,000 people and $2.6-billion in goods and services cross the Canada-US border daily.

The measures include Can$52 billion ($37 billion) in direct support for families and businesses, instead of Can$27 as previously announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Can$55 billion in tax deferrals.

"That's exactly why we're announcing the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit today", Trudeau said.

Parliament has passed the federal government's emergency legislation that will get tens of billions of dollars in assistance to Canadians and their businesses hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak.

"And even if you're still employed but not receiving income because of this crisis... people should start receiving money within 10 days of applying".

Trudeau said that COVID-19 "demands a global response" and now, more than ever, all nations need to work together on ensuring supplies flow and a vaccine is developed.

"We have been in discussions with the United States on this", he told a news conference, without giving details.

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Trudeau said that the G20 global leaders spoke about the health and economic response to a rapidly spreading virus that, as several federal officials have stated, knows no borders.

Asked to explain why Canada made a decision to send these supplies overseas, Trudeau stated that the novel coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, and a global response is needed.

From home Trudeau has been speaking regularly with other world leaders, who are also all grappling with how to respond to, or prepare for an onslaught of COVID-19 cases in their countries. Canada also agreed to turn back all irregular migrants during this time.

"This kind of conduct is not just disappointing, it's risky", Trudeau said, emphasizing the serious fines and potential jail time for those who don't comply.

That Canada Emergency Response Benefit will offer $2,000 a month in direct support through the Canada Revenue Agency, and is the main reason the cost of direct COVID-19 aid almost doubled from an estimated $27 billion last week to $52 billion now.

The two countries already have a mutual ban in place on non-essential travel, but the movement of trade, commerce and cross-border workers has been allowed to continue - a clear sign that both Ottawa and the White House share a belief in the economic importance of avoiding a complete closure.

According to Trudeau, up to 1 million citizens have applied for employment insurance, showing the disastrous effects of virus-related shutdowns.