Government Sitting: The House of Commons is adjourned until Monday April 20, at 11:00 a.m. EDT. The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday April 21, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
On April 1, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Parliament will be recalled to approve new legislation in response to COVID-19, calling the government’s plan the “largest economic program in Canadian history”.
Repatriation of Canadians: On March 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau updated Canadians the government is working to safely bring home Canadians stranded abroad, while acknowledging the government will not be able to help everyone as countries around the world continue to restrict travel.
US-Canada: The details of the temporary border agreement with the US was released. Essential travel will continue as it is critical that the government preserves supply chains between each country to ensure that Canadians have access to gas, groceries and life saving measures.
Foreign Travel to Canada: Exemptions on travel restrictions for temporary foreign workers, and international students travelling from all countries have been released. All travellers returning to Canada will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine as of March 25 at 11:59 p.m., with the exception of essential workers. More details here.
Travel within Canada: As of Monday March 30 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, individuals showing any symptoms of COVID-19 will be denied boarding on all domestic travel by plane or train.
COVID-19 Countermeasures: A series of new measures to aid in the protection of Canadians from COVID-19, including a strategy to help manufacturers scale-up production of medical supplies, and supporting businesses to shift production to items in high demand.
National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan announced the Canadian Armed Forces stand ready to assist provinces and municipalities if they request support. Over the past weeks, the Canadian Armed forces have been gearing up to support the national fight against COVID-19. If deployed, the troops will respond with
In an effort to support Canada’s Air Transportation sector, the Government of Canada is waiving rents paid on ground leases for the 21 airport authorities that form part of the National Airport System and that pay rent to the government. The rent payments will be waived for March 2020 through December 2020. For a complete list of airport authorities that will receive relief, see here.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced progress under Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19. The Government of Canada has signed new procurement agreements with Canadian companies Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience to purchase and manufacture equipment and supplies including portable ventilators, surgical masks, and rapid testing kits. The government has also signed letters of intent with five companies including Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group Ltd, Irving Oil, Calko Group, and Stanfield’s to produce additional test kits, hand sanitizer, and protective apparel including masks and gowns. The Government of Canada is also allocating $2 billion to support diagnostic testing and to purchase ventilators and protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories.
Public Safety Canada provided guidance to help provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, and municipalities protect their communities while maintaining the reliable operation of critical infrastructure services and functions to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of the population amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Included is a non-exhaustive list of essential services and functions to facilitate the movement of critical infrastructure workers within and between jurisdictions. The services and functions outlined are advisory in nature and should not be considered a federal directive or standard.
Economic Aid: The government announced a $82 billion aid package to help stabilize the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak including direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus support to meet liquidity needs of businesses and households through tax deferrals. Full details
The government announced new measures to support farmers and agri-food businesses, including $5 billion in lending capacity to Farm Credit Canada (FCC), and an additional six months to repay outstanding Advance Payment Program loans. Full details here.
Bill C13, An Act Respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19, has received Royal Assent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced additional new measures to support small businesses. The new measures include:
- Introducing a 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details on eligibility criteria will be shared before the end of the month. The number of people a business employs will not determine its eligibility. For companies experiencing a decrease in revenue of at least 30 percent, the government will cover up to 75 percent of a salary on the first $58,7000, which could mean payments of up to $847 a week. The wage subsidies will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. Trudeau indicated more details would be forthcoming and that applications should be open next week.
- Allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports.
- Launching the new Canada Emergency Business Account which will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they are able to provide interest-free loans to small businesses. The loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero percent interest rate.
- Launching the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank for guaranteed loans.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced increased support for vulnerable Canadians affected by COVID-19. The Government of Canada will:
For Canadians experiencing homelessness, and women and children fleeing violence provide an additional $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities, in order to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak. The government will also provide an additional $157.5 million to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness.
For at risk children and youth provide $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone for more councilors and trained volunteers.
For Canadian Seniors provide $9 million to the new Horizon’s for Seniors Program to the United Way Canada to support practical services to seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.
Trudeau confirmed that applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will open on Monday April 6, 2020.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Minister Ng, Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, and Minister Bains, Innovation, Science and Industry announced the details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The new wage subsidy program will cost an estimated $71 billion but will reduce the anticipated cost of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit to $24 billion. The details include:
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
- Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
- For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the frontline response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.