OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – A package of financial supports to help Canadians struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic could come as early as Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Speaking Tuesday outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, Trudeau explained Parliament could return temporarily in order to pass emergency measures to support Canadians and businesses impacted by the growing outbreak.
The package would include measures to help Canadians with their mortgages, a possible boost for the federal Child Benefit, and provide payments to people who don’t normally qualify for Employment Insurance.
“We are hard at work to create the right support package for Canadians while protecting people’s jobs and our economy,” he said.
The same morning, Ontario reported its first coronavirus-related death – the fifth in the country – and declared a provincial state of emergency.
“Ontario is taking the right steps to protect people and the health care system,” Trudeau said. “And today’s announcement is an example of what we’re seeing across the country.”
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) March 17, 2020
Trudeau said the federal government is also considering an extension to the income tax filing deadline and more flexibility to make payments, as well as using one of the government’s most powerful weapons: the Emergency Measures Act.
“By the end of the week, we will have more to say about changes for the upcoming tax season,” he added.
The federal government would need to temporarily recall Parliament to bring in emergency economic measures.
“To pass legislative measures that will allow to do things around EI, to do things around a number of methods to get money into the pockets of Canadians,” Trudeau added.
He said up to $5,000 will be available to Canadians through an emergency loan program, through Global Affairs Canada, to help people abroad who need immediate financial assistance to return home or cover their needs if they have to wait to get back.
He also reiterated that air borders will be closed to people who aren’t Canadians citizens or permanent residents, with some exceptions, including air crews and U.S. citizens.
He said earlier that the federal government is examining the option of declaring a national state of emergency, which would allow the regulating of federal supplies and prohibiting travel within Canadian borders.
Trudeau, who has been self-isolating at home with his family since his wife tested positive for COVID-19, also reiterated his message to Canadians to practice social distancing.
He said as of Wednesday, Parks Canada is suspending visitor services at all national parks and historic sites.
“What this means for our parks is that pretty much anything with a door will be closed,” Trudeau said.
On Wednesday, he said to expect another major announcement on economic actions to support Canadians as quickly as possible.