Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a federal aid package is in the works after already establishing a $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund, while the Bank of Canada cut the key interest rate to 0.75%.
In a joint announcement, the Bank of Canada cut the overnight lending rate by half a percentage point to 0.75% in response to COVID-19. Bill Morneau, Federal Finance Minister also announced a $10-billion business credit line. The interest rate will be effective Monday, March 16, 2020.
Morneau says these changes will help support businesses and stimulate the economy amid the outbreak.
Trudeau addressed the media outside his home Friday morning, where is in isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19. Trudeau said no one should have to worry about paying rent or buying groceries.
The federal aid package will be going to people struggling the most, getting “squeezed by not going into work” and small businesses suffering financial loss. Reuters is reporting the aid package could be as much as $20 billion across the country. That aid package will be announced next week by the government.
Meanwhile, Marc Garneau, Federal Transport Minister, said international flights into Canada will be limited to a smaller number of airports. Exactly which airports will be affected is still being worked out. Garneau says cruise ships and ferries carrying 500 or more passengers will also not be allowed to stop in Canada until July 1st.
All Canadians are recommended to avoid travelling outside of Canada, and going into self-isolation for 14 days upon return if they do decide to leave the country, even to the United States.
Taking further measures to help with social distancing, religious organizations around Canada are rolling out a series of large gathering cancellations.
Muslim Leaders in B.C. and Ontario are cancelling larger congregations and are advising anyone who feels ill to instead listen to sermon live streams. Also, Churches in Quebec and Ontario are cancelling mass gatherings and are recommending smaller gatherings or personal visits.
*** Story by Wendy Gray/Bradley Jones ***