Starting Feb. 1, Canadian businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for low-interest loans of up to $1 million.
The money can be used for such expenses as rent, utilities or payroll, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his livestream COVID-19 update Tuesday morning.
“For many businesses and their employees, it’s hard to get back on their feet,” said Trudeau.
The federal government is partnering with the largest financial institutions to introduce the new Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP). More details about the loans will be provided later today, and applications open Feb. 1.
Trudeau also addressed travel restrictions currently in place. He said Canada has some of the strictest restrictions on travel in the world. Since March, the borders have been closed to anyone who doesn’t call Canada home, he said, and the federal government has a mandatory two-week quarantine for everyone returning to the country, and there is now a mandatory requirement for a negative test result 72 hours prior to anyone boarding a flight to Canada.
“We are doing whatever it takes to keep Canadians safe, and we will not hesitate to take tougher measures if and why they are needed,” Trudeau said.
An announcement is expected within the next few days.
Travel is only one part of the equation when it comes to beating the pandemic, he said.
“We also need the tools to test and trace the spread of the virus, and in the last week alone, we delivered more than 1 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories, bringing the total to 15.4 million rapid tests sent to the front lines, and more are on the way,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister also extended his gratitude to health-care works on the front line.
“You are our heroes,” he said. “Your service and dedication every day is remarkable.”