Trudeau Wins Opposition Backing for $57 Billion Virus Aid Package

(Bloomberg) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won parliamentary support for his stimulus package to bolster an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.

The plan received approval from the House of Commons in the early hours Wednesday after tense negotiations with opposition lawmakers over how much emergency spending powers the governing Liberals should be given to tackle the crisis. The bill received Senate approval later Wednesday, and royal assent, the final steps required to officially make it law.

The passage of the stimulus plan means the government will be able to pump money into the economy quickly as much of the country shuts down to halt the spread of the deadly virus. Almost one million Canadians filed for jobless claims last week, with growing evidence the damage from the sudden halt of economic activity is only going to worsen.

The addition of new measures announced on Wednesday has raised the cost of the package to C$107 billion ($75 billion), up from an original C$82 billion. Trudeau’s package includes C$52 billion in direct support for individuals and companies, versus an initial cost estimate of C$27 billion. It also includes C$55 billion in temporary tax deferrals for households and businesses.

The Liberals lack a majority of seats in the House of Commons and need the support of opposition parties to pass legislation. The main opposition Conservative Party had balked at the government’s bid to give itself free reign on spending and taxation through the end of 2021 to manage the crisis. The Liberals agreed to rein in demands for extraordinary powers to six months, according to Conservative lawmakers.

There are 1,959 confirmed cases across the country, according to Health Canada statistics as of 6 p.m. Tuesday. Of those, 27 people have died.

Source: Financial Post