Canada planning new coronavirus aid measures this week, Morneau says

Conservative House leader Candice Bergen.
Sean Kilpatrick  The Canadian Press  File

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new financial support program Wednesday to help workers affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate has passed the federal government's COVID-19 aid package, after hours of dealmaking and an overnight session in the House of Commons.

Over the last week or so, there were nearly one million new EI claims - far above the typical 45,000.

The minister said Ottawa has been in daily contact with provincial governments to discuss those issues and how it is impacting provincial revenues. "Our government is doing everything we can to be there for you". Trudeau says they will provide up to $2,000 a month for 4-months to any full-time, contract, self-employed, sick or quarantined workers.

This new benefit replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit, announced last week, to streamline the process.

The CERB also supports employers by helping them keep their employees so they can resume operations as soon as it becomes possible, the government said on its website.

With almost 1 million people applying for employment insurance last week, Trudeau stated the new programme is in the process of being set up. "It can be hard to get through on the line, and that is frustrating." he said during a news conference.

"Checks will be flowing after that", he said.

It would apply to any affected workers between March 15 and October 3.

The total aid package was initially proposed at $82 billion, but is now $107 billion, with direct support to Canadians and small businesses increasing to $52 billion.

"We know that with this amount of EI claims coming in at once, we will definitely need more help in processing all those files", Eddy Bourque, president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, told the National Post.

Sports equipment maker Bauer Hockey plans to modify its hockey visors into face shields for healthcare workers, while retailers Canada Goose Holdings, and Gap Inc said they would produce medical gear.

The prime minister is urging all Canadians overseas to return home by commercial means while options are still available, and to register with the government so they can receive proper updates.

"To come through this, we must all look after each other and do our share".

The senior party source said the Conservatives asked the government to put all aid measures already announced into a separate bill, which could be immediately passed through the House, but the government declined to do so. "And it's because people across the country are working tirelessly to make it happen", said Trudeau, who commended healthcare professionals for their work.

"On top of that, there's $55 billion in tax deferrals that we've said are there because neither individuals nor corporations will be forced to pay their incme tax before August 31", Morneau said.



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