Quebec is giving individuals and businesses more time to pay their taxes, the latest in a series of measures Canada’s second-most-populous province is taking to dampen the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The filing deadline for some two million individual taxpayers has been extended by a month from April 30 to June 1, while the deadline of some 500,000 businesses remains April 30, Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard said Tuesday. For both individuals and businesses, if money is owed to the provincial government, payment does not have to be made until July 31, he said.
“We’re providing more oxygen for individuals and businesses,” Mr. Girard told reporters in Quebec City.
Quebec residents file two tax returns, one provincially and one federally. Ottawa is expected to announce a similar extension of the federal filing deadline this week.
Quebec’s extension of the payment deadline from April 30 will provide $7.7-billion of liquidity to taxpayers, the minister said. With record unemployment and healthy public finances, he said the province has never been in a better position to weather a crisis and can borrow further if necessary.
The tax-filing delay is part of a wider aid program being gradually unveiled by Premier François Legault’s government to fight the economic shocks brought on by the novel coronavirus. On Monday, the province kicked it off with new help for workers.
Quebec said Monday it wants people who’ve come back from international travel, those showing symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have been in contact with an infected individual to quarantine themselves even if they stand to lose revenue.
The Premier said his government would offer non-taxable financial assistance worth $573 per week to workers who need to self-isolate and do not qualify for federal Employment Insurance or other programs offered by their employers.
“If you have to isolate yourself, please do it, don’t hesitate for financial reasons,” Mr. Legault told reporters. Jean Boulet, Quebec’s Labour Minister, urged employers to show understanding and flexibility towards their staff.
Quebec estimates the measures to help workers could cost the government $150-million. The Red Cross will manage the program.
Mr. Legault said additional help is coming for companies lacking liquidity, saying the government will offer loans to help. He said Quebec will also increase its public investments as the private sector retrenches in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, with plans to accelerate spending on infrastructure projects like health-care facility expansions and roadwork.
Quebec has taken drastic measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 on its territory, closing schools and daycares, banning gatherings of 250 people, ordering bars, theatres and gyms to close and asking restaurants to cut their capacity by half.
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