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Ottawa announces $600 million more for businesses amid second wave of COVID-19

Friday, October 02, 2020 @ 4:52 PM | By Terry Davidson

Canada’s government will give more than half a billion dollars to help businesses survive the second wave of COVID-19 and provide tens of millions for victims of gender-based violence suffering during the pandemic.

On Oct. 2, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Ottawa will provide an additional $600 million to the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) in a bid to help small- and medium-sized businesses across the country.  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) will deliver the additional funds to their respective regions, according to a government news release.  

Of that money, RDAs will deliver $455.7 million to small- and medium sized businesses and organizations and $144.3 million will go to providing “rural businesses and communities with access to capital and technical support, and will be delivered by Community Futures Development Corporations across the country.”

Trudeau said his government has already provided for workers and businesses through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, “which kept employees on the payroll,” and “introduced the Canada Emergency Business Account” to help “employers pay for things like hand sanitizers and face shields.”

“To support even more businesses, we invested almost a billion dollars to create the [RRRF],” Trudeau said. “This funding flowed through the [RDAs], with a portion also going to the Community Futures Network to help businesses in rural and remote areas. These organizations know the specific needs of their regions and the businesses they serve. And we’ve heard from small businesses about how important that funding was to keep the lights on. We need to continue to support workers and small business as we move through this second wave.”

The additional money brings the total funding given to the RRRF to $1.5 billion.

Trudeau also said an $50 million in new funding will be given to further support organizations providing services to those experiencing gender-based violence.

According to a news release, COVID-19 has “highlighted gaps in the very systems designed to keep people safe” and “created unprecedented challenges for those experiencing gender-based violence and the organizations that provide supports and services to them.”

Of that $50 million, $30 million will go towards various women’s organizations to deliver supports, help combat the spread of COVID-19 and address increases in demand.

Ten million will go to help organizations providing services to Indigenous people off-reserve, and the remaining $10 million will go to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres.

Trudeau noted the $50 million Ottawa has already given to more than 1,000 women’s organizations as a means to hire more staff and develop cleaning and safety plans during the ongoing health crisis.

“In the last six months, most Canadians have been able to stay at home if they need to because they have a safe place to live. But that isn’t the reality for everyone. Women and children who are the victims of violence often don’t feel like they have anywhere else to go, and that’s unacceptable. … No one should have to choose between facing violence at home or dealing with a pandemic in the streets.”

Following Trudeau’s address, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, spoke of the second wave.  

“Case counts continue to rise, with an average of 1,634 new cases being reported daily during the most recent seven days,” said Tam. “Accelerated epidemic growth, particularly in high instance areas of Quebec and Ontario is driving the ongoing increase. New cases reported from these provinces account for almost 80 per cent of the national case count. More recently, we are seeing an increase in severe outcomes of COVID-19, which we are keeping a really close eye on.”

Tam said there has now been a total of 160,535 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Of those, 9,319 have died.

It was in late September that Trudeau announced Canada was already into experiencing a second wave of COVID-19.

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