“The government of Canada will do whatever it takes to ensure that the health of Canadians is protected, families and businesses are supported and our economy remains strong, even in the face of uncertainty.” Justin Trudeau
Canada’s key responses to limit the human and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are not perfect, but they are far ahead of most countries, including those of its neighbor and ally, the United States.
In Canada, a country of 37 million inhabitants, there were some 77,000 confirmed cases (compared to more than 1.5 million in the US) and 5782 deaths (vs. more than 89,900 in the US) as of May 18, 2020.
As mentioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada is on a different “trajectory” than the United States. Canada’s response to Covid-19 was indeed faster and Canadians’ ongoing discipline towards self-isolation has been decisive in flattening the curve and avoiding a disaster such as the ones some countries are still going through.
Canada’s intergovernmental system is doing relatively well at coordinating a coherent response across our federal, provincial-territorial and municipal borders. Public health officers across the country are coordinating their actions and sharing information daily and in a transparent manner, raising trust in our government, while US political and health authorities are sending mixed messages leading to confusion.
To continue to contribute to global efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Canada is investing an additional $25.8M in research. This investment is a portion of the $275M funding for research on medical countermeasures spend by Canada against COVID-19.
The federal government has stepped up quickly with substantial measures to support individuals and companies going through this economic crisis. Indeed, the Canadian government has put in place a massive stimulus package of $82 billion direct cash payments and tax deferrals to help Canadians keep their heads above water during the Covid-19 crisis.
Some of the important measures adopted are outlined below:
For now, people cannot be evicted, property owners cannot increase rent, and in some provinces such as British Columbia, people with low income can receive money towards their rent.
Parents are receiving an extra $300 per child. According to the government’s Child Benefit calculator, a family in which each parent earns between $45,000 and $65,000 per year and has 2 children will be eligible for almost $900 per month.
Canadians who had an income of at least $5000 within the past 12 months can receive $2000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks. This amount is deposited into their bank accounts within 3 business days.
Canada is also allocating a salary top up to low-income essential workers earning less than $2500 per month during Covid-19 pandemic. As described on the government’s website, “this will provide a much needed boost to those on the front-line in hospitals, those caring for seniors in long-term care facilities, those working hard to make sure that there is food on our shelves and tables, and others.“
In addition, Canada is also providing a one-time special payment starting through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low and modest income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
In addition to receiving financial help as mentioned above, workers who have been laid off due to Covid-19, can now access Employment Insurance faster than ever.
All student loan borrowers will automatically have their loan repayments and interest suspended until September 30, 2020.
For students who choose to serve their communities during Covid-19, Canada will provide them with up to $5000 for their education in the fall through its Student Service Grant.
It is possible for homeowners facing financial hardship to defer their mortgage payments for up to 6 months.
Canada invested $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations who will help with, amongst other things, delivering food and medications to seniors and people with disabilities, and providing ongoing contact through phone calls to limit the negative impact of self-isolation.
Canadians have one extra month to file taxes and until August 31, 2020 to pay them.
A subsidy has been put in place that covers 75% of an employee’s wages, up to $847 per week, for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a decrease in revenue of at least 15% in March and 30% in April and May.
Through various programs, lenders are providing flexible credit solutions to businesses including interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover their operating costs during the pandemic.
Commercial rent can be reduced by up to 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
Businesses have also been allocated extra time to pay taxes.