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Trudeau government to give economic ‘snapshot’ to nation

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 @ 4:28 PM | By Terry Davidson

The federal government will be providing a “fiscal snapshot” of COVID-19’s impact on Canada’s economy, what has been done to soften the blow and what the short-term future may hold.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as part of his June 17 COVID-19 update to the nation, said the snapshot will be released in the House of Commons on July 8 and will “give Canadians a picture of where our economy is right now, how our response compares to that of other countries and what we can expect for the months to come.”

Trudeau mentioned some of the funding and supports created since the “unprecedented challenge” of the pandemic hit Canada in March. Trudeau cited the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the emergency wage subsidy, loans for small business and help for students and seniors.

“Taken together, we’ve now introduced the largest economic measures in our lifetimes, measures that are helping millions of people, because that’s what the situation demanded,” he said. “As we begin to safely and gradually restart, I know people are wondering what this pandemic will mean for their jobs in the long run, and what the impact has been on our economy and the path forward. … We want to make sure you have the best information possible.”

When answering questions from the media, Trudeau was quick to point out this will be a snapshot, not an economic update — the latter of which he said would be looking at the longer term.  

“An economic update would, in fact, be unrealistic. An economic update includes projections of exactly what might happen in the coming months and years, over a three- to five-year horizon,” Trudeau said in French, through an English translator. “But every two weeks, the finance department has been sharing all available info on the measures we introduced and we are certainly capable of bringing together that data and that information on what we’re doing, with a couple of projections as to what could happen in the next few months.”

Trudeau was asked what value he saw in providing a snapshot, given his feeling that a more comprehensive economic update is “unrealistic.”  

“I think it will be useful for people to see the scale and the details on everything that we have put out,” Trudeau said. “As I’ve said, we’ve been keeping the finance committee and, through them, parliamentarians updated every two weeks on all the measures we’ve been flowing out but at the same time pulling them all together in a look over the past few months on all the measures we’ve done, comparing the measures we’ve done in Canada to countries around the world … so we get a sense of where we are compared to others, and a sense of what the coming weeks or months could look like.”

Trudeau did not provide any kind of timeline when it comes to announcing a full economic update or budget, despite calls for one. 

The Liberal government has reportedly launched COVID-19 aid programs worth more than $160 billion in direct spending. It has also been reported that Canada’s deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year is expected to exceed $250 billion.