Canada pumps Can$200 billion into virus-stricken economy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a series of measures to boost the Canadian economy, almost doubling the amount of the aid pledged just two days ago to more than Can$200 billion.

The measures include a 75 percent wage subsidy for small and medium business employees affected by the coronavirus crisis, and a series of grants, tax deferrals, lines of credit and low-interest loans to Canadian businesses.

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They followed an announcement that the Bank of Canada is lowering a key interest rate to 0.25 percent as part of a drive to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The aid package was announced as a parliamentary report out Friday forecast a 5.1 percent contraction of Canada’s economy in 2020, the worst since 1962, with a whopping 25 percent second quarter contraction.

“At present, the economic and fiscal outlook is extremely uncertain,” read a summary of the parliamentary report. “The scenario under consideration is but one of many possible outcomes.”

The report assumes that the current COVID-19 social distancing and self-isolation measures “will remain in place through August, lasting roughly 6 months in total.”

It also assumes that oil prices will remain at the current low levels.

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