By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA -Canada will not extend existing broad-based COVID-19 support programs for companies and individuals when they expire on Saturday because the economy is recovering well, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.
Instead, Ottawa will introduce more targeted and less expensive measures to help particularly hard-hit sectors such as the tourism industry.
These new programs will cost a total of C$7.9 billion ($6.4 billion) between Oct. 24 and May 7, 2022, compared with the C$289 billion Canada has already spent, Freeland said.
“Our economy is rebounding, and we are winning the fight against COVID,” she told reporters.
For the next few months, Ottawa will help hotels, restaurants and travel agencies that are still facing public health restrictions. It will also help cover the rent costs of employers who can show they have faced deep, enduring losses.
A third program is for companies which might suffer in case there are more lockdowns.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government spent heavily to ward off the worst of the pandemic, sending the national debt and budget deficits to record highs.
“Canadians supported that unprecedented spending. … It was the economically smart thing to do,” said Freeland.
“Today our support needs to be more narrow, more targeted and less expensive. And we need to look forward to the day, now not too far off, when we will be able to bring it to an end.”
Separately, officials said Ottawa and the 10 provinces had agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel.
The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for healthcare – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.
($1 = 1.2352 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; additional reporting by Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)