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COVID-19: A look at Ottawa's $27B aid package as pandemic's economic toll climbs

National Post logo National Post 2020-03-18 Jesse Snyder
Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media outside his home in Ottawa, on March 16. © REUTERS/Patrick Doyle Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media outside his home in Ottawa, on March 16.
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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid out a sweeping $27-billion aid package on Wednesday, part of an effort to shield families and businesses from the economic fallout of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government also set aside up to $55 billion in tax deferrals for businesses and families, for a total of $82 billion in possible aid.

The measures included an expanded criteria for employment insurance to provide cushion to lower income families and people who are out of work due to the rapidly spreading virus, as well as temporary $2-billion boost to the Canada Child Benefit. Ottawa also extended the deadline for tax season until August 2020.

“In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

The financial assistance comes after Finance Minister Bill Morneau last week announced $10 billion in credit for small companies starved of cash flows due to the virus. Several provinces have declared a state of emergency amid the pandemic, shutting down schools, restaurants, and public venues, in turn erasing vast amounts of cash flows for small and large firms.

The government has also said it would buy up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), part of an effort to stem a potential fallout in the housing market should debts begin to pile up.

The $27-billion aid package includes the following measures:

  • $2 billion in payments through the Canada Child Benefit
  • $10 billion in support through the Emergency Care Benefit, delivered in $900 bi-weekly payments for up to 15 weeks
  • $5 billion through the Emergency Support Benefit for workers not eligible for EI
  • $5.5 billion in support for low income families through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit

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