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Canada to aid businesses with revenue loss of 30% or more, unemployment claims jump

By David Ljunggren
·2 min read
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian program to help businesses pay wages during the coronavirus outbreak applies to all enterprises and charities with a revenue loss of 30% or more, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

Trudeau, who said last week Ottawa would cover up to 75% of the wages of people working for small and medium enterprises, made clear the aid would not depend on business size. It will be capped at C$847 ($596) a week per worker.

The announcement marks the latest move by the Liberal government in the fight against the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.

Some 1.55 million Canadians filed for unemployment insurance between March 16 and 25, a government source said. This is a big jump over the total of almost 1 million claimants from March 16 to March 22.

Air Canada said it would place about 15,200 unionized employees off duty and furlough about 1,300 managers.

Trudeau, speaking to reporters, did not say how much the revised aid package would cost.

"If your business' revenues have decreased by at least 30% because of COVID-19, you will be eligible for this subsidy. The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support," Trudeau said. The program will apply to non-profit organizations and charities.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the expanded program would "be a significant relief for tens of thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of employees."

Trudeau reaffirmed a commitment to help hard-hit sectors such as the airline and energy industries but gave no details.

The number of cases rose to 7,427 from 6,258 on Sunday, while the death toll climbed to 82 from 63, according to a tally of provincial announcements compiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Healthcare professionals in some parts of Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, have complained about a lack of personal protective equipment. Premier Doug Ford said there were enough masks, gloves and other equipment for "a couple of weeks," adding that millions of items had been ordered.

In Quebec, the second most populous province, Premier Francois Legault said most establishments would close on Sundays to allow workers to rest.

The Quebec Caisse, one of Canada's biggest state pension investors, said it would create a C$4 billion fund to support Quebec firms.

The province of Manitoba announced it would close all non-essential businesses for two weeks beginning on April 1.

($1=$1.42 Canadian)

(Additional reporting by Amran Abocar and Moira Warburton in Toronto, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Noor Zainab Hussain and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)