Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new financial aid program to help businesses and commercial property holders struggling with rent payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will expand loan qualifications for small and medium-sized businesses through existing programs.
On Thursday, Trudeau unveiled the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, which is meant to help small businesses and commercial property holders pay rent for April, May, and June.
“Our government is here to help you through these challenging times and we make changes when the programs we have aren’t reaching enough people,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister said the federal government needs to work with provincial and territorial leaders who have their own way of governing rental relationships.
Also, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) that was launched in March, offering $40,000 loans for small and medium-sized businesses will also be expanded to help more residents.
So far, 195,000 loans have been approved, translating to $7.5 billion in credit to these businesses.
Now, CEBA will be expanded “increasing and decreasing the eligibility threshold,” Trudeau said.
Businesses that had a total payroll in 2019 of $20,000 to $1.5 million will be eligible. Before the requirements were $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll.
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“This will help with operational costs and any other immediate needs. We need to get people the help they need as quickly as possible.”
Trudeau also said he will be meeting with provincial leaders on Thursday night to discuss topping up the pay for essential workers in long-term care homes who makes less than $2,500 a month.
As coronavirus cases and deaths increase in long-term care homes, the prime minister noted that workers in these facilities need extra support.
On Wednesday, Trudeau announced that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will expand to help more Canadians, such as those who are earning some income, seasonal workers and those who have EI running out, as they face continued economic hardship from the pandemic.
Individuals earning $1,000 or less a month, such as freelancers, can now apply to the program.
Also for individuals who have lost or been running out of money from EI since applying on January 1, can now apply for CERB.
In addition, those who would rely on seasonal work, but can no longer find employment because of the pandemic will have access to the emergency benefit.