Trudeau to recall Parliament for expanded emergency aid

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Ottawa, April 2 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin 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 coronavirus pandemic.

At his daily press conference on Wednesday, Trudeau said that recalling Parliament was part of a “Team Canada” effort to combat the COVID-19 spread that has shut down huge sections of the economy and placed a massive strain on the medical system, reports Xinhua news agency.

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”.

“This is the largest economic program in Canada’s history,” he said.

“This must be a Team Canada effort. Governments of all orders across the country are stepping up to fulfil their responsibility to Canadians. Canada hasn’t seen this type of civic mobilization since the Second World War.”

Trudeau clarified that starting April 6 Canadians can apply for aid package titled the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, but if they are set to get the new 75 per cent wage subsidy, they cannot collect both.

Earlier on Wednesday, Canadian Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer said the massive emergency aid bill passed by Parliament last week is out of step with Trudeau government’s new plans to raise the wage subsidy for employer from 10 per cent to 75 perc ent.

Scheer said his party was willing to return to Parliament to change the law, saying there are discrepancies in whether publicly traded companies are eligible for the wage benefit and whether companies need to sustain a revenue drop in order to qualify.

Trudeau said the new wage subsidy will only be available to employers who commit to paying the remaining 25 per cent of an employee’s salary.

On Monday, the Prime Minister had announced that Canadian businesses whose revenue has decreased by 30 per cent or more due to the pandemic will be eligible for a 75 per cent wage subsidy, regardless of the number of employees they have.

This announcement was a major increase to the initial 10 per cent wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses, announced the week prior.

Trudeau reiterated there will be stiff and severe penalties for employers who try to take advantage of the new program.

As of Wednesday, there were 9,489 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 107 death in the country.