ONTARIO CANADA COVID ( Coronavirus ) – Transcript of Ministry Speech 27th March 2020

Hello everyone. Happy Friday.

Let me just begin by saying I’m pleased with the supporting actions taken by the Bank of Canada this morning.

Monetary policy is very important, but as the Governor of the Bank has repeatedly said, the most important thing we can do to help people and the economy in this crisis is for the government to take strong fiscal action.

So, today, I want to speak directly to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

I know that for many of you, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking.

You’ve had to slow down your operations. In some cases, you’ve even had to close up shop for the foreseeable future.

And because money isn’t coming in, you can’t afford to keep your employees on the payroll.

These are really tough decisions.

Tough because you don’t want to let the people go who help you run your company in their time of need.

Tough because some of you have built your business over the course of many years, if not decades. And now, it seems like this climate of uncertainty could threaten everything you’ve worked for.

I know many Canadians across the country are saddened to see their favourite neighbourhood spots closed.

These are the places that make our communities feel like home.

Our government knows you’re really feeling the impacts of this pandemic, especially with the end of the month coming up.

So, here’s what we’re going to do to take some of that pressure off.

Last week, we had announced that we would cover 10% of wages, but it’s becoming clear that we need to do more, much more, so we’re bringing that percentage up to 75% for qualifying businesses.

This means that people will continue to be paid even though their employer has had to slow down or stop its operations because of COVID-19.

We’re helping companies keep people on the payroll, so that workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover from this. That is our priority.

We will have more to say on this very soon, but I can tell you that this subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses will be backdated to Sunday, March 15.

For people who’ve lost their job or are self-employed, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will still be there to help you.

We also know that small, store-front businesses are struggling with cash flow right now. It’s hard to raise money and make money in this climate.

So, to help you bridge to better times, we are launching the Canada Emergency Business Account.

With this new measure, banks will soon offer $40,000 loans, which will be guaranteed by the government, to qualifying businesses.

The loan will be interest-free for the first year, and if you meet certain conditions, $10,000 of it will be forgivable.

Our government will also provide an additional $12.5 billion through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank to help small and medium-sized businesses with their operational cash flow requirements.

This means that businesses will be able to apply for a guaranteed loan when they go to their financial institutions to get help as they weather the impacts of COVID-19.

Lastly, we’re announcing that we will defer GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, until June. This is the equivalent of giving $30 billion in interest-free loans to businesses.

So, if you’re struggling to get by right now and you have a payment due at the end of the quarter, we’re going to give you more time.

It will also allow you to keep money that would have been sent to the government and use it instead for your immediate needs.

With these new measures, our hope is that employers who are being pushed towards laying off people because of COVID-19 will think again.

And for those who have already had to lay off workers, we hope you will consider rehiring them given this payroll support.

Over the coming days, we will announce additional measures to help the most vulnerable.

Youth, marginalized people, people who live in poverty – we’re going to have more news to share with you very soon.

This morning, I want to address entrepreneurs and the owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

I know that you have had to make some very difficult decisions over the past few weeks.

Some of you are unable to pay your employees. Some have had to close up shop.

The pandemic has destabilized the global economy and the climate of uncertainty we now find ourselves in is, understandably, very worrying to you.

Last week, our government announced a series of measures to help. But you told us that you needed more support.

We heard you.

So today, we are announcing additional measures to help you.

Last week, we announced that we would subsidize 10% of wages, but it’s clear that we need to go further, so this will increase to 75% for eligible small and medium-sized businesses.

This means that people will continue to get paid, even if the business they work for has had to slow down or close because of COVID-19.

We are helping employers keep their employees, in order to support workers and promote economic recovery. That is our priority.

We will have more details on this very soon, but for now I can tell you that this subsidy will be retroactive to March 15.

And for those who have lost their job or are self-employed, the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will still be there to help you.

We know that small businesses are having cash flow problems right now.

It’s hard to raise money and make money in the current climate.

To help you get through these difficult times, we are launching the Canada Emergency Business Account.

Through this measure, banks will soon be offering $40,000 loans to eligible businesses, which will be guaranteed by the government.

The loan will be interest-free for the first year and, if you meet certain conditions, $10,000 of it will be forgivable.

Our government will also provide an additional $12.5 billion to Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small and medium-sized businesses with their cash flow needs.

Businesses will therefore be able to apply for a guaranteed loan when they turn to a financial institution for help in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

Lastly, our government is announcing that people will have until June to make their GST and HST payments, and to pay the duties and taxes owed on imports.

This is the equivalent of giving businesses $30 billion in interest-free loans.

So, if you’re having trouble making ends meet because of the pandemic and you need money at the end of the quarter, we’ll be giving you more time to make your payments.

This will also allow you to keep more money for your daily expenses.

We hope that these new measures will encourage employers who feel forced to lay off their employees to reconsider.

And if you have already laid people off, we hope that you will consider rehiring your employees thanks to this new wage subsidy.

Over the coming days, we will be announcing other measures to help those who are most vulnerable.

Young people, marginalized people, people who live in poverty we will have news for you very soon.

I know the past weeks have been really tough.

You’re worried about what COVID-19 means for your business and for your future.

These are uncertain times, but my message to you today is we’re going to be here for you.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy.

You are collectively the largest employer in the country.

You support millions of families. You serve our communities.

And you make our towns and cities better places to live.

Canadians are counting on you. I am counting on you to come back strong from this no matter what comes next.

You’re going to get the support you need to help rebuild a more resilient and prosperous economy.

So, to businesses across the country, please keep your workers on the payroll or think of hiring them back.

In the meantime, let’s keep listening to our public health officials.

Let’s wash our hands, stay home as much as possible, and keep a safe distance from each other when we go for a walk or when we have to go to the grocery store.

Together, I know we’re going to get through this.

Thank you very much, everyone.

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