Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a massive $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals.
The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals.
Combined, the package represents more than three per cent of Canada's GDP. Trudeau said the deep spending will not drive the country into recession, insisting "prudent" decisions made over the last five years have put Canada on a strong economic footing to weather the crisis.
"We will be able to make sure our economy gets back up to speed very quickly," he said.
Parliament could be recalled as early as next week to pass legislation to bring in the fiscal measures.
The supports aim to help Canadians pay for rent and groceries, to help businesses continue to meet payroll and pay bills, and to stabilize the economy. Supports could start flowing in weeks, Trudeau said.
"No matter who you are or what you do, this is a time where you should be focused on your health, and that of your neighbours, not whether you're going to lose your job, not whether you're going to run out of money for things like groceries and medication," he said.
The emergency aid plan includes:
* A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
* A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don't qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
* A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
* A six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
* Doubling the homeless care program.
* Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1.
* Allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31 tax payments that are due after today and before September.
* $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
Other measures include a GST credit for low-income Canadians and special support for the homeless and shelters helping people escaping gender-based violence.