Trudeau announces new economic aid for businesses



Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday announced new aid measures, including commercial rent assistance and an expanded loan program, to help businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program aims to help small businesses cover their rents in the country for three months -- between April and June.

The previously announced loan program, which offers businesses up to 40,000 Canadian dollars (about 28,000 U.S. dollars) in a government-backed loan to cover the costs of keeping their enterprise afloat during the COVID-19 crisis, will now be available to businesses who paid between 20,000 Canadian dollars (about 14,000 U.S. dollars) and 1.5 million Canadian dollars (about 1.1 million U.S. dollars) in total payroll in 2019.

The current eligibility requires applicants to prove that they paid between 50,000 Canadian dollars (35,000 U.S. dollars) and one million Canadian dollars (about 710,000 U.S. dollars) in payroll in 2019, leaving out some businesses on either side of these figures.

"This is money entrepreneurs and employers can use to cover operational costs and help with other immediate needs," Trudeau said at his press conference in Ottawa.

He said that more than 195,000 loans worth a total of 7.5 billion Canadian dollars (about 5.3 billion U.S. dollars) have been approved since the loan program opened for applications a week ago.

Before his press conference, Trudeau joined a call with his fellow G7 leaders. He focused on emphasizing the collective need for a global response against the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Canadian Prime Minister's Office.

The Canadian prime minister said that G7 nations also have a responsibility to assist more vulnerable countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is "an important part" of the global fight against the novel coronavirus.

The call came after U.S. President Donald Trump declared his decision on Wednesday to halt funding to the WHO.