OTTAWA, Oct. 21 (Reuters) – Canada will not renew existing broad-based COVID-19 support programs for businesses and individuals after they expire on Saturday as the economy rebounds well, Treasury Secretary Chrystia Freeland said Thursday.
Instead, Ottawa will introduce more targeted and cost-effective measures for hard-hit sectors such as tourism.
The new programs will cost a total of $ 7.4 billion ($ 6 billion) between October 24 and May 7, 2022, compared to the $ 289 billion Canada has already spent, Freeland said.
“Our economy is recovering and we are winning the fight against COVID,” she told reporters.
Ottawa will support hotels, restaurants and travel agencies that are still facing public health restrictions. It will also help cover rental costs from employers who can show they have suffered deep, permanent losses.
A third program is aimed at companies that could suffer if there were further lockdowns.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal minority government spent heavily to fight the pandemic and to propel national debt and budget deficits to record highs.
People are crossing the US-Canadian border after Canada opened the border to vaccinated Americans on August 9, 2021 in Blaine, Washington, United States. REUTERS / David Ryder
“Today our support needs to be closer, more targeted and more cost-effective,” said Freeland.
The left-wing opposition New Democrats, whose support the Liberals will need to govern, said Trudeau acted hastily.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. … This is clearly not the time to cut back on aid to families and small businesses, ”President Jagmeet Singh said in a statement.
Separately, officials said Ottawa and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination record that allows for domestic and international travel.
The agreement avoids possible confusion that could arise if the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – all issue their own certificates.
The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents major airlines, welcomed the move, but said Ottawa should take other measures to encourage travel, such as eliminating pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated people coming to Canada .
($ 1 = 1.2375 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting from Julie Gordon; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney
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