Trudeau says details coming soon on help for households to access credit

Trudeau says details coming soon on help for households to access credit

Trudeau says details coming soon on help for households to access credit

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is raising anew his government’s promise to help hard-hit Canadians more easily access credit by leaning on the nation’s banks to do more than reduce credit-card costs.

Speaking at his daily press briefing, Trudeau said moves by Canada’s big banks to reduce interest rates on credit-card balances for those whose finances have been harmed by COVID-19 is a first step, but that they have to do more.

The Liberals have talked since last month about helping people get loans, possibly federally backed so they can be offered at low rates and on favourable repayment terms and be targeted to households that still have income but may be feeling financial strain.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said the credit package is still a work in progress.

He added that having the banks give extra help to Canadians would not only be good for households, but for major financial institutions as well.

“They know that if we face extremely difficult times for Canadians, for businesses, they too will suffer,” Trudeau said in French. ”That’s why we are encouraging them to do more.”

An association representing dozens of banks in Canada said the program would focus on access to low-interest credit for people and businesses, but declined to provide details on the what still needs to be resolved before the promised program is available.

“Access to low-cost credit, particularly when there’s an unexpected shock, is critical to free up short-term cash flow to help Canadians weather the storm,” Mathieu Labreche, a spokesman for the Canadian Bankers Association, said in an email.

About $65 billion of the overall federal relief package to date is in the form of low-interest loans, including some with provisions for forgiveness if payments are made by specific dates.

A survey Tuesday from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents some 110,000 companies, said that one-fifth of respondents who want such help can’t get it because they’re not eligible. The CFIB also suggested that companies have concerns about how to pay off debt, even low-interest loans, once economic activity restarts.

Added to the mix are rock-bottom oil prices that have led numerous Canadian energy companies to scale back capital investment plans and lay off workers. A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said the government will take part in a virtual meeting with his G20 counterparts to refine a solution to the cratering price of crude.

One measure the Liberals have pointed to as help is a 75-per-cent wage subsidy for businesses of all sizes to help keep people on their payrolls despite plunging revenues, which the government estimates will cost $71 billion.

Trudeau said opposition parties have the draft legislation that would create the program. Parliamentary approval is needed for the measure, whose terms changed to make it much more generous after MPs and senators quickly approved a package of emergency spending two weeks ago.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre wrote on Twitter that his party will read the bill “carefully to make sure it does what they claim.” Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet asked that the legislation include help to companies to cover some of their fixed costs, such as rent, without the need to take on additional debt to manage expenses.

And NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in an open letter to Trudeau, called for the emergency sitting to also make changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

That $24-billion program is to provide workers who have lost all their incomes $2,000 monthly for up to 16 weeks. More than one million people had applied for by Tuesday afternoon, with more expected Wednesday. A further three-million-plus employment insurance recipients are to be moved over to the new benefit.

Singh is asking that when MPs meet to vote on the wage -subsidy legislation, there also be amendments to the CERB so that income has to have dropped to less than $1,000 instead of zero, to capture contract and gig workers, and that the benefit provide a 20 per cent “danger pay” top-up to all essential workers.

The wage subsidy combined with the emergency benefit puts Canada’s federal response package “beyond some of our peers,” TD Economics said in a report Tuesday, but warned of gaps, including for students who may not qualify for the CERB.

“All told however, we have so far seen a reasonably convincing response to the sizable income shock currently hitting Canadian families,” senior economists Brian DePratto and Sohaib Shahid wrote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020.

— With files from Mia Rabson

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


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

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

(File photo)
After several years in limbo, Parkland Manor to be torn down

Rimoka Housing Foundation has received funding and approval for the demolition

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

Most Read