Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday April 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Nearly 5.4 million Canadians receiving emergency federal aid as requests climb

Government has received 5.97 million claims for financial help since the crisis began about one month ago

The federal government says nearly 5.4 million Canadians are now receiving emergency aid to replace incomes lost due to COVID-19.

The figures this morning show 5.38 million applications have been processed since March 15, a figure that includes people who were previously on employment insurance before being moved over to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

During the first week it was available, there were just under 3.5 million claims for the $2,000-a-month benefit, including nearly 172,000 over the past two days.

In all, the government has received 5.97 million claims for financial help since the crisis began about one month ago.

More help is to arrive next week in the form of a new loan program to help eligible small businesses cover costs.

And more federal aid from a 75-per-cent wage subsidy program, approved by Parliament on Saturday, will be available by early May.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre is calling on the government to rejig the credit program that runs through banks and credit unions to increase the value of loans and allow small businesses to use it to pay wages.

He says that would help companies pay workers now instead of waiting a few weeks for the wage-subsidy program to pay out.

When the government is able to pay the subsidy to eligible businesses, Poilievre is proposing that companies take the first tranche to pay off the increased loans.

The Opposition Conservatives are also calling on the Trudeau Liberals to come up with a plan specifically to help the nation’s restaurant, hospitality and tourism sectors.

Many of those businesses were either among the first to close due to public health concerns related to COVID-19, or have seen dramatic declines as consumer spending drops.

A handful of Conservative critics say in a statement this morning that the government must give these businesses the tools to open their doors again, and to retain workers through the pandemic, especially in areas with historically high unemployment.

Among the ideas being proposed are temporarily allowing owner-operators to qualify for the federal wage-subsidy program as well as refunding a year’s worth of GST remittances to small businesses.

A report last week by the parliamentary budget officer estimated that refunding federal sales tax to small businesses would cost Ottawa’s coffers about $12.9 billion.

READ MORE: As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit on opening day, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

READ MORE: In a pandemic, those on the front lines face unique mental health challenges

READ MORE: Normal life won’t fully return until COVID-19 vaccine developed, Trudeau says

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Council talks trash: New garbage bylaw in the works

Draft bylaw to be voted on at Monday, May 25 council meeting

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

‘Service beyond the classroom’: Gerry Palmer wins UFV award

Palmer has been involved with UFV for more than 30 years, starting as an instructor

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

20 dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

There were two new cases detected, according to the Lodge’s update

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

UPDATE: One person dead, two in critical condition after Highway 1 collision in Langley

A man and woman were taken to hospital in critical condition

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Most Read