Assistance for Indigenous Businesses
In his daily briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $306 million to help indigenous-owned businesses, including short-term interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions. This aid will be administered through the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. He called this a “first step,” with additional measures to be announced soon.
Canada-U.S. Border Closure Extended
Trudeau confirmed that Canada and the United States have agreed to keep the border closed to non-essential travel for another 30 days. Essential goods and services, including personal protective equipment, will continue to move across the border.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced yesterday that air passengers flying in Canada will be required to wear non-medical masks while in transit. Beginning April 20, passengers arriving in or departing from Canada will have to prove they have a non-medical mask or a face-covering with them during boarding. Those who can’t may be prevented from continuing their journey. A complete list of measures can be found here.
Support for Canada’s Journalism Industry
As a follow-up to the Budget 2019 announcement, the federal government has released draft legislative proposals that would adjust tax measures to support Canada’s news and broadcasting sector. Changes include increasing access to tax credits and reducing eligibility requirements for government grants. A full list of proposed changes can be found here.
Expanded Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning that the government is expanding the CERB. Now, Canadians earning less than $1,000 a month and those whose EI benefits have recently run out will be eligible. In addition, out-of-work seasonal workers and frontline workers who work a small number of hours are also eligible. Artists who receive copyright revenue can also now exclude it from their income to help them qualify.
The Prime Minister will also be working with the Premiers to top up the pay of essential workers who make less than $2,500 per month to get them to that threshold.
He also hinted at future assistance coming for post-secondary students and businesses with worries about commercial rent payments.
The government is working with LuminUltra from New Brunswick to ramp up the production and supply of COVID-19 tests to meet the growing national demand. The government has also received new boxes of test swabs and will be meeting with the G7 leaders tomorrow to discuss a more co-ordinated response.
Mental Health Portal
The government is launching Wellness Together Canada, an online portal to provide free mental health services to Canadians who are struggling to deal with the pandemic and its impacts on everyday life. The new platform includes online resources as well as text and phone-in hotlines.
Reopening the Economy
When asked by reporters about reopening the economy, Trudeau noted that it would be “weeks more” before restrictions are lifted. He cautioned that if we move too quickly to lift restrictions it could cause even more damage to Canadians and the economy. He reiterated that the government will be extremely careful in its recovery approach and asked Canadians to continue being patient.
Interactive map for commercial truck drivers: Truck drivers can now use an interactive map on 511Alberta to find open restaurants, restrooms and showers on Alberta highways. The map shows restaurants, safety rest areas and vehicle Inspection stations that have available food, washrooms, showers and/or rest areas.