Ottawa, March 28 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an increase, from 10 per cent to 75 per cent, in the wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
At a daily news conference outside his residence in Ottawa, Trudeau on Friday called small and medium-sized businesses the backbone of the country’s economy, saying the increase will help them avoid ordering layoffs or closing down, reports Xinhua news agency.
“I am counting on you to come back strong from this, no matter what comes next,” he said.
The wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020.
The government will also guarantee bank loans of up to C$40,000 ($28,600) for small businesses.
The loans will be interest-free for the first year, and if certain conditions are met, the first C$10,000 will be scrapped.
Citing youth, marginalized population and Canadians in poverty, Trudeau said more help will be rolled out soon.
Canada has shut the country’s border with the US to ban all non-essential travel, with enhanced screening measures and tough new penalties in place for travellers who do not self-isolate.
A financial assistance and stimulus package of C$107 billion was approved by the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday.
Also on friday, the Bank of Canada announced an unscheduled interest rate cut to 0.25 per cent amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Prime Minister, who has been in self-isolation for over two weeks after his wife Sophie contracted the virus, said he was pleased with supporting actions taken by the Bank of Canada.
As of Friday, there were 4,198 confirmed COVID-19 cases 43 deaths in the country.