COVID-19 Government and International Response: March 27, 2020

What to Know

There are now more than 575,000 cases of COVID-19 globally, up from 510,000 yesterday, as the U.S. case load continues to accelerate. Canada reports 4,622 cases, up from 4,043 cases yesterday. The Ontario government is confirming 135 new cases, lower than yesterday’s 170 new cases. There are now 993 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. The Province has tested 41,032 patients with 10,074 cases still under review.

British Columbia health officials say their modelling shows physical distancing is already having an impact in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in that province.

Federal

Prime Minister Trudeau delivered a lifeline to Canadian businesses today, announcing a series of measures aimed at helping businesses stay afloat, support their workforce, and resume operations once physical distancing is lifted. Business groups, including the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and Premiers lauded the measures.

The measures announced today include:

  • A 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month.
  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It is designed to help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges.
  • The government launched the Canada Emergency Business Account which will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans will be guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada will provide small businesses access to capital, at a zero per cent interest rate.
  • Also launched today is the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
  • Bloomberg BNN reports: The Bank of Canada announced a large scale asset purchase program and cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low in a bid to ease financial-market strain and shield the nation’s economy from coronavirus fallout.

Provincial

The Ontario government sent out emergency alert messages to cell phones, TVs and radios across the province to warn recent travellers to stay home and physical distance, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

International

  • United States is reporting nearly 95,000 cases of COVID-19, up from 79,313 cases yesterday. The country now reports the most COVID-19 cases globally.
  • China is reporting 81,340 cases of COVID-19 and only one of the 55 new cases is a result of community spread.
  • India’s number of COVID-19 cases has grown to 724 cases from 606. The country remains in lockdown.
  • Italy is reporting 86,498 cases, up nearly 5,000, and has overtaken China with the second highest number of reported cases of COVID-19. Spain grew to 64,059 cases and Germany has 49,436 cases.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, secretary of state for health Matt Hancock, and England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty have all tested positive for COVID-19. The UK has 14,543 cases, 12,288 of which are in England.
  • Brazil is now reporting more than 3,000 cases, up from 2,600 cases yesterday, while and Chile is reporting 300 new cases, taking that country’s total to 1,610 cases.