Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses Canada Emergency Business Account program and The Emergencies Act in his COVID-19 update

In his daily update from Rideau Cottage, where the Prime Minister is working from home and in self-isolation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the newly launched Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program and he discussed the ongoing questions regarding the Emergencies Act. 

Canada Emergency Business Account program – Business Loans Available

In the latter half of last month, the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Business Account program – CEBA in which qualifying businesses will be offered up to $40,000 in government-guaranteed loan. The loan will be interest free until December 31, 2022. If businesses can repay the loan by December 31, 2022, up to $10,000 of the loan amount will be forgiven.  If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 per cent interest.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the program was now available and encouraged businesses to get in touch with their bank to see how they can access this loan. The loan, available through the Canada Emergency Business Account program, was developed to help businesses cover immediate operating costs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Discussion of The Emergencies Act between the Prime Minister and Premiers across Canada

In the past couple of days, there has been talks of the federal government considering enacting the Emergencies Act (which replaced the War Measures Act in 1988). Through the act, if enacted, the federal government of Canada will gain the power to regulate or prohibit travel, requisition and use of property, order qualified people to provide essential services, regulate distributions of goods, resources and services, and establish emergency shelters and hospital. 

The reason why talks of enacting the Emergency Act became relevant is due to the fact that the act will allow the federal government to ensure and deploy medical supplies and equipment to where they are needed most across the country. In other words, under the Emergency Act, the federal government can redirect medical supplies such as masks, ventilators, and COVID-19 testing devices to regions that are in dire need of these supplies. 

One reason why the federal government may wish to enact the Emergency Act is because there are concerns that Indigenous communities may not receive necessary medical supplies. Thus, through the Emergency Act, the federal government can ensure that these communities will also receive medical supplies and equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At this time, after a letter was sent by the federal government to Premiers across Canada, the majority of Premiers have pushed back on the notion of enacting the Emergency Act. Premiers agree that current supply chains have secured more Canadian companies to produce medical equipment and personal protective equipment in Canada, and that it is not necessary to use the Emergency Act for the time being.

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