Half-million Canadians have received emergency loans during pandemic

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — More than half a million Canadians have now received emergency loans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the president of the federal Treasury Board said Wednesday.

In addition to the 545,000 people now receiving aid, another 7.5 million have received at least one payment from the emergency response benefit, and 110,000 businesses have applied to the wage subsidy program.

Jean-Yves Duclos provided the updated figures ahead of the in-person meeting in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Opposition MPs are expected to challenge the federal government on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including perceived gaps in emergency benefits and whether it’s time to start scaling them back.

Another question is expected to be whether the government needs to ensure 10 paid sick days and childcare for all workers returning to jobs.

Conservatives are to push the Liberals on whether the emergency response benefits and rental assistance for small businesses act as disincentives to reopen businesses, and have been calling for changes.

The NDP is still calling for a universal benefit and residential rent relief, arguing too many Canadians aren’t getting the help they need.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not attending the House of Commons meeting as he’s at the repatriation of the remains of one of the members of the military killed in the helicopter crash off the coast of Greece.

‘Pandemic decelerating’

During the daily briefing with federal ministers, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the pandemic is decelerating.

“The daily increase continues to go down,” she said.

The doubling time for infections is now at about 20 days, she added.

Federal ministers also hinted that more help could be coming for seniors.

Tam also acknowledged that the number of deaths as a result of COVID-19 in Canada has now exceeded the national projections for potentially 3,883 deaths by May 5.

To date, just over 4,100 people have died from COVID-19 in Canada, many of them seniors.

Tam said the increased number of deaths is due to the fact that those who were infected weeks ago are now coming to the end stages of COVID-19, and are passing away, most often those in long-term care facilities.

Tam said more than 970,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Canada, with about six per cent of those positive.

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