Canada to end large-scale COVID assistance programs as economy recovers
OTTAWA, Oct.21 (Reuters) – Canada will not extend existing large-scale COVID-19 support programs for businesses and individuals when they expire on Saturday because the economy is recovering well, the Minister for Finances Chrystia Freeland.
Instead, Ottawa will put in place more targeted and less costly measures to help particularly affected sectors like the tourism industry.
These new programs will cost a total of C $ 7.9 billion ($ 6.4 billion) between Oct. 24 and May 7, 2022, compared to the C $ 289 billion already spent, Freeland said.
“Our economy is rebounding and we are winning the fight against COVID,” she told reporters.
Over the next few months, Ottawa will help hotels, restaurants and travel agencies that still face public health restrictions. It will also help cover rental costs for employers who can prove they have suffered significant and lasting losses.
A third program is aimed at businesses that could suffer if there were more blockages.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has spent a lot to avert the worst of the pandemic, sending national debt and budget deficits to record levels.
“Canadians have supported this unprecedented spending. … It was the economically smart thing to do, ”Freeland said.
“Today our support must be narrower, more focused and less costly. And we must look forward to the day, now not too distant, when we can end it.”
Separately, officials said Ottawa and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel.
The agreement avoids any possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. Those responsible have spoken on condition of not being identified.
($ 1 = 1.2352 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by David Ljunggren; additional reporting by Julie Gordon; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell
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