Canadians who are out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for up to CAN$2,000 ($1,399) a month for four months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit will also be available to those who are off sick or remain home to look after children, since schools in Canada are closed. Canadians should be able to apply for the financial aid in early April and receive money in 10 days.
As Trudeau was making the announcement, the Canadian Senate was reviewing a CAN$82 billion ($57 billion) stimulus package. It was passed during an emergency session of parliament early Wednesday and Senate approval was expected later in the day.
About one in three Canadians worry whether they will be able to pay rent or make mortgage payment. As well, about two-thirds of the country’s roughly 19-million workforce have already lost work or will soon, according to an Angus Reid poll.
The measures are being taken as Canada reported 2,851 COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths Wednesday, while 185 have recovered. Canada is performing 10,000 tests daily, Trudeau said.
“(It is) the greatest health care crisis in our history,” he said. He is in his 14th day of isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus.
For the first time, about half the cases are attributed to spreading in communities from non-travelers, while the other half are Canadians who returned from out-of-country trips.
All 10 provinces as well as three territories have declared a health crisis in one form or another.
Meanwhile, the two most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have issued orders to close all but essential service providers such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
Trudeau repeatedly asked Canadians to “go home and stay home.”