Federal Government Unveils COVID-19 Emergency Response Package

The Canadian government today unveiled an $82 billion emergency response package to help Canadians in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. The package includes $27 billion in direct supports to Canadians and businesses and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals.

Of note, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a number of programs that are intended to assist employers, businesses, and persons who are self-employed, across the country. 

Emergency Care Benefit

The federal government will be introducing an emergency care benefit for individuals who do not qualify for employment insurance and have no access to paid sick leave. This program will provide eligible individuals up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks. 

The Emergency Care Benefit will be available to individuals who fall ill, must self-isolate, or must take care of a family member as a result of COVID-19. 

Emergency Support Benefit

The federal government will also be introducing the Emergency Support Benefit program to assist individuals who have lost their jobs and do not qualify for employment insurance. 

This program will apply to individuals who are self-employed and are required to close shop due to COVID-19.

Temporary Wage Subsidy

For Canadian small businesses, the federal government will be introducing a temporary wage subsidy equal to 10% of the salary paid to employees for a period of 3 months. Eligible small businesses will receive up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Tax Deferrals

Canadian businesses and individuals who owe tax payments after March 18, 2020 can defer these payments until after August 31, 2020. The CRA also confirmed that it will also not contact any small- to medium-sized businesses for post-assessment GST/HST or income tax audits for the next four weeks.

Export Development Canada

Canadian exporters will receive increased support from Export Development Canada. 


The credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will be augmented through Farm Credit Canada.

Travel Restrictions

Along with the announcement of the $82 billion stimulus package, the federal government has imposed a temporary restriction to all non-essential travel between Canada and the United States. As of March 18, 2020, these travel restrictions do not apply to travel involving commerce or trade. 

The Prime Minister said today that legislative measures are needed to “get the money out” to Canadians who need it, and to assess the specifics of each program. We are continuing to monitor these developments and will provide updates as additional details become available.

For more information on how to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19, please see the Firm’s post on COVID-19 in the Workplace.