Prime Minister announces aid for fish, seafood workers

Small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are getting rent relief.

Each province will have to make its own adjustments, Trudeau said, while adding that the national government would retain an important coordinating role to avoid confusion.

"More help is on the way for our small businesses across the country".

Alluding to the fact that some provinces have suffered more than others, Trudeau said that it would not be like "flipping a switch".

Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly told the House of Commons finance committee on Thursday that he was expecting an announcement on rent relief as early as today.

He said it is too soon to talk about so called "immunity passports" for Canadians who've been infected with COVID-19, because the science is still unclear about whether those who have recovered from the virus are protected from catching it again. The approach will be on a province-by-province basis, Trudeau said, because COVID-19 has hit different areas of Canada differently. "We already have a 75 per cent wage subsidy from the federal government so that's a big piece of the puzzle for a lot of small businesses".

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The government will cover half of the cost, but property owners will have to forgive 25 per cent. The specifics of the rent subsidy are still to be worked out, and landlords are being urged to be flexible and work with their small business tenants in the meantime.

Provinces and territories will cover up to 25 per cent of costs, subject to terms of agreements with Ottawa.

The support is also available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

"We're identifying what needs to be done and mapping out next steps", Trudeau said. The program will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. "What we don't yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last".

Financial institutions have provided interest-free credit of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses, and up to $10,000 is forgivable if the loan is repaid by the end of 2022.

The prime minister also announced that a conversation about the gradual re-opening of parts of the economy will take place with premiers Friday.

  • Darren Santiago