Coronavirus: Trudeau announces economic aid package to help Canadians amid outbreak

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is preparing a significant fiscal stimulus package in the coming days to help Canadians and businesses hit hardest by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members,” Trudeau told reporters. “We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe.”

Trudeau addressed the nation today from outside Rideau Cottage where he is in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, tested positive for the coronavirus.

His announcement sought to quell uncertainty around the growing number of cases in Canada, now more than 150, which has led to school closures, the suspension or cancellation of major sporting events, and other large public gatherings.

The prime minster said the economic aid package would be going to help the most vulnerable citizens “getting squeezed” by not going into work.

“We also know small businesses may struggle through this period of economic slowdown,” he said. “We are in the enviable position of having significant fiscal firepower available to support you.”

Reuters reported that the total value of an aid package could be up to C$20 billion across the country.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Friday afternoon that $10 billion would be available through the Business Development bank of Canada and further spending details would be released next week.

“These are extraordinary times and that means we are ready to take extraordinary measures,” Morneau said. “I understand that some of you watching today are worried about your families.”

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