Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced updates to his previously released programs to help the country’s businesses and young people deal with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
During a daily press conference, Trudeau said his government’s goal was to deliver sweeping, robust programs that would help more people as quickly as possible.
Since mid-March, more than 4 million Canadians have applied for financial assistance, but there were still many who have trouble making ends meet and did not qualify for the benefit programs created so far.
Trudeau confirmed planned changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, including greater flexibility for employers to have access to the program.
He said his government consulted with various stakeholders before making the changes.
Business groups complained that the initial criteria for the wage subsidy, including the requirement that a business claiming the subsidy see its revenue decline by 30 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year, would exclude many businesses, including new, growing or seasonal companies.
Trudeau also announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program aimed at helping young people get work.
The changes include a boost to the wage subsidy up to 100 per cent and an extension of the end date for employment to February 28, 2021 and the inclusion of part-time jobs.
On Monday, PM Trudeau said that his government will soon make emergency benefits accessible for citizens who do not currently qualify.
There will be assistance for those who continue to work but are making less than they would through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, such as home care workers or people caring for vulnerable seniors in long-term care facilities.
Last week, Trudeau has recalled Parliament for an expanded emergency aid as the country was facing the greatest economic and health challenge since the Second World War due to the deadly virus.
The benefit will provide C$2,000 ($1,417) a month for four months for those eligible.
Trudeau called the aid package of C$107 billion ($75 billion) to help the unemployed, protect jobs of workers in shuttered businesses and loans and liquidity measures for business as the “biggest economic measures in our lifetime to defeat a threat to our health”.
The Prime Minister has faced criticism at home for sending a shipment of protective equipment to China in February, before COVID-19 cases spiked in Canada.
It is the largest economic program in Canadian history and needs approval by Parliament.
As of Wednesday, a total of 19,179 cases of COVID-19 were identified in Canada, with 427 deaths, according to CTV.
There have been some positive indications that the COVID-19 spread was slowing in some parts of Canada such as British Columbia province.