BILL C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, on Wednesday received royal assent, guaranteeing the rapid implementation and administration of measures to protect Canadians’ health and safety and stabilize the Canadian economy.
The authorities in this legislation makes sure that the government can do what it takes to support Canadians and Canadian businesses, and the economy as whole, in a timely way, today and in the future, as the situation continues to evolve.
The Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan provides direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion through tax deferrals, to help meet the cash needs of Canadian businesses and households, and to help stabilize the economy. This comprehensive support helps ensure that Canadians can pay for essentials like housing and groceries, as well as helps businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty.
- Provides additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering almost $2 billion in extra support.
- Provides additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit, delivering $5.5 billion in support.
- Introduces a Canada Emergency Response Benefit providing a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months to support workers who lose their income as of result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation related to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. The CERB is available to Canadian workers affected by the current situation whether or not they are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
- Introduces a pause on the repayments of Canada Student Loans in the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Student Loans Act, and the Apprenticeship Loans Act in order to introduce a 6-month moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all borrowers currently in repayment.
- Helps businesses keep their workers by providing eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. Eligible employers would include small businesses (including co-operative corporations) eligible for the small business deduction, unincorporated employers, certain partnerships, non-profit organizations and charities.
- Helps protect seniors’ retirement savings from the impact of volatile market conditions by reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 per cent for 2020.
- Supports provinces and territories with a COVID-19 Response Fund that would provide one-time funding of $500 million through the Canada Health Transfer for their critical health care system needs and to support mitigation efforts as needed.
- Ensures the availability of drugs and medical devices by providing the Government with the authority to make regulations to address any future shortages of therapeutic products, including drugs and medical devices. This would include allowing for drug patent overrides in health emergencies in the period up to September 30, 2020, and for the importation of drugs and medical devices not authorized for sale in Canada to address certain shortages, such as for personal protective equipment or drugs required to treat COVID-19.
- Supports Canadian businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)by temporarily providing the Minister of Finance with more flexibility to determine BDC’s capital limit, allowing it to provide further financial support to Canadian businesses when they need it.
- Supports Canadian businesses through Export Development Canada (EDC) by temporarily providing the Minister of Finance with more flexibility in setting EDC’s capital and liability limits – as well as the Canada Account limit – and expanding EDC’s ability to engage in domestic financial transactions so that it can more effectively deliver financial and credit insurance support to affected Canadian businesses.
- Supports the agriculture and agri-food sector by amending the Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Act to temporarily provide the Minister of Finance with the flexibility to set the limit on the amounts that may be paid by the Minister of Finance to FCC out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to ensure continued availability of credit to businesses in the agriculture and agri-food sector.
- Supports the mortgage financing market in Canada by enhancing the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC)access to capital, and increasing its insurance-in-force and guarantees-in-force legislative limits, so that it can continue to provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders in support of continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers.
- Protects Canadians from the Spread of COVID-19 by providing authority to a federal minister to requisition funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health to support federal efforts to prevent or control the spread of COVID-19.
- Provides the Minister of Finance with flexibility to respond expeditiously to COVID-19 developments, by amending the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to temporarily remove the requirement for the Minister of Finance to receive Governor in Council’s authorization in order to use emergency powers.
- Supports the protection of Canadians’ savings by providing the Minister of Finance with the flexibility to increase the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation’s deposit insurance limit beyond its current level of $100,000.
These investments build on action already taken to address the outbreak, including the over $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund and over $500 billion in credit and liquidity support coordinated by the Government, the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and commercial lenders to ensure businesses have access to liquidity and can continue to operate.
The Government said it will continue to carefully monitor all developments relating to the COVID-19 outbreak and is prepared to take further action as required.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Wednesday: “I would like to thank and commend my Parliamentary colleagues in the House of Commons and Senate for agreeing to the immediate adoption and royal assent of Bill C-13 so that the Government can deliver this extraordinary support for Canadians and the economy on an urgent basis. The measures being implemented through Bill C-13 show that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the health of Canadians is protected, that families and businesses are supported, and that our economy remains strong in the face of uncertainty.”