Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Trudeau unveils $27-billion in aid, $55-billion of tax deferrals in coronavirus response
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled an $82-billion relief package, including $27-billion in emergency aid that offers immediate and direct help to Canadians and businesses, plus $55-billion in tax deferrals, to help them survive the severe economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The package highlights include:
- Emergency Care Benefit payments to Canadians who don’t qualify for employment insurance or don’t have access to paid sick leave of up to $900 biweekly for 15 weeks.
- A temporary boost the Canada Child Benefit for parents facing school and kindergarten closings.
- An emergency support benefit for self-employed and part-time workers who do not qualify for EI.
- A boost to the GST credit in May to help lower income people.
- A six-month moratorium on repayment of student loans.
- Extension of deadlines to file tax returns until June 1 and make payments until after Aug. 31.
Canada-U.S. border to temporarily close for non-essential travel
In his press briefing today, Trudeau also confirmed that Canada and the United States have agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the border, but supply chains between the two would be maintained.
U.S. President Donald Trump said today that there would be no restrictions on trade “at this moment,” but also said he hoped the partial closing would be over within a month.
Trudeau had faced criticism after his initial border closing announcement on Monday excluded American citizens.
Global markets tumble again, while loonie fall below 70 cents
Global equities tumbled again today, with bond and gold prices also falling in unusual tandem, as markets grappled with the scale of government programs aimed at softening the economic shockwave from the coronavirus.
Canada’s main stock market fell more than 7.5 per cent and losses for the loonie were the biggest in nearly 10 years. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 963.79 points or 7.6 per cent at 11,721.42.
The Wall Street selloff deepened, with Trump’s request for Congress to approve US$500-billion in cash payments to taxpayers along with US$500-billion in loans for airlines doing little to stem the rout.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,334.69 points or 6.28 per cent to 19,902.69, the S&P 500 lost 131.02 points or 5.18 per cent to 2,398.17 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 344.94 points or 4.7 per cent to 6,989.84.
In other developments:
Auto industry: Ford and General Motors have confirmed plans to shut plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico to stop the spread of coronavirus. Fiat Chrysler is expected to follow suit. Ford said its North American plants will close after tomorrow evening’s shifts through March 30.
Honda previously announced it is suspending production in North America, starting March 23 and resuming March 31, citing an expected decline in sales due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Travel: More airlines are suspending service in the wake of border closings: Porter Airlines flights will stop on Friday, with plans to resume on June 1, and leisure carrier Air Transat is gradually suspending flights until April 30. That follows holiday carrier Sunwing Airlines’s move to suspend outbound flights and issue layoff notices as it flies back customers. WestJet Airlines will stop all transborder flights as of next Monday.
Sports: The future of the Calgary Stampede is up in the air with the operating company temporarily laying off 80 per cent of its staff, as Alberta declared a state of emergency that banned all gatherings of more than 50 people.
Meanwhile, Japan is not preparing to postpone the 2020 Olympics, the government’s top spokesman says of the Games scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9. But after International Olympic Committee reiterated yesterday that the Tokyo Games will go as planned, hockey star and IOC Athletes Commission member Hayley Wickenheiser shared her views on Twitter: “To say for certain they will go ahead is an injustice to the athletes training and global population at large."
What’s going on around the globe:
- Italy calls in military to help ramp up production of ventilators as coronavirus cases continue to surge
- In Wuhan, new coronavirus cases dry up, and a locked-down city has thoughts of freedom
Up-to-date news: Get the latest on the coronavirus, including Quebec reporting its first COVID-19 death, with our news digest here.
Keep track: Find out how many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide with the latest maps and charts.
Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We want to hear your story. E-mail us at email@example.com
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ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Bernie Sanders ponders next move: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was trying to determine his next moves after former vice-president Joe Biden swept to victory in Florida, Illinois and Arizona and seized a commanding lead in a Democratic presidential race upended by the coronavirus.
Tom Brady signing rumours: While there has been no official announcement, reports suggest that six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady will sign with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He entered free agency this week after 20 years with the New England Patriots. Opinion: The NFL and Tom Brady are a nice break from this crisis - Cathal Kelly
Apple adding PC-like trackpad to iPads: Apple’s new iPad brings PC-like trackpad capabilities for the first time, which the company says will offer more precision than fingers in selecting text and switching between apps.
The voices of pro-development First Nations elected chiefs have been marginalized
“Many of us have concluded that engagement in resource-development projects is the best way by which to raise our own revenues, enhance our self-determination and provide employment and business opportunities for our members, as we begin to secure financial sovereignty.” - Roy Fox, Makiinima, is both the elected and hereditary chief of the Kainai Blood Tribe in Alberta
Beyond pipelines: The nation-building project that could electrify Canada
“A national plan to build out our electricity transmission infrastructure could also provide a worthy outlet for the economic stimulus that will surely be needed when we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic that the global community faces today.” - Sara Hastings-Simon and Blake Shaffer, University of Calgary
Rob Carrick offers this advice for preparing your personal finances in case a recession is part of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. It includes:
- The best thing you can do with your money right now is put it in a high-interest savings account.
- Staying at home allows us to eliminate some discretionary spending – put that money into savings.
- If you’re up against it with no cash reserves, a home equity line of credit is your cheapest and most flexible option for borrowing.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
What can you do to support your local small businesses in this outbreak?
For a small-business owner, it should have been a pleasant sight. But when Amer Diab, co-owner of the Three Speed, walked by on Saturday night to see the pub was packed, he knew something had to change.
“For the first time, I was embarrassed to see it that way," he said in an interview on Monday, shortly after locking down the Toronto establishment for what will be an undetermined hiatus.
He’s not alone, Susan Krashinsky Robertson writes. Canada’s ability to contain the spread of the new coronavirus depends in part on social distancing, and for many people that means steering clear of bars and restaurants. Some provinces have asked them to shut down, and some are relying on businesses and their customers to make the call.
Either way, it leaves many small-business owners and their staff in the lurch, and regulars may be wondering what they can do to support their favourite local. Small-business owners have some suggestions.