Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a package of financial supports is on the way to help millions of Canadians and businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis — and he isn’t ruling out an extension to the tax filing deadline.
In an interview with Toronto’s 680 News, Trudeau said today the government will act fast to put money in the pockets of Canadians, including employment insurance supports and direct income supports for those who don’t qualify for employment insurance.
“We’re going to be flowing income supports to millions of Canadians. We’re going to make sure that we’re able to weather this crisis in the right way,” he said.
Trudeau is holding a news conference at Rideau Cottage beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET today. CBCNews.ca is carrying that live, followed by a news conference with several cabinet ministers and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
Trudeau said Parliament could be temporarily recalled to pass legislation required for financial supports, such as changes to employment insurance. He also said the government is looking at whether it will be necessary to invoke the Emergency Measures Act.
Trudeau reminded Canadians that everyone has a responsibility and a role to play in containing the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing measures that include avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people and working from home where possible.
He said he can’t predict how long these practices may be in place, noting it could be weeks or months.
The prime minister said other financial support measures could be introduced, including:
- Money for businesses to allow them to keep people on the payroll even when they are at home.
- New access to credit for businesses. Last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $10 billion credit facility to lend money to businesses under stress due to the pandemic.
- Help with mortgage payments.
- Enhanced Canada Child benefits, GST credits for low-income Canadians.
“These sorts of things are all on the table in terms of tools we’re looking at to help Canadians as quickly as possible get through these times,” Trudeau said.
He did not rule out postponing the April 30 tax filing deadline.
“We’re looking at all sorts of ways of helping Canadians, and this is part of what we’re looking at,” he said. “We’ll have an announcement tomorrow most likely around that.”
Earlier Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in his province, a move that will shut down most recreational facilities, libraries, bars and restaurants. Grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit will remain open.
Asked if the federal government could declare a national state of emergency, Trudeau said that so far, that has not been necessary to leverage the federal tools, resources and powers required to respond to the crisis.