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Feds told to ease EI, use tax credits in spending to ease COVID-19 economic shock

Canada's Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks to the Canadian Club of Canada in Toronto, Friday, March 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals are being urged to ease access to federal sick leave benefits, along with tax credits and other breaks, to help workers and businesses deal with the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The ideas being floated to the government are intended to help employees who feel they might not be able to afford to stay home from work if they’re ill, as well as small businesses who might not have the cash flow they need to manage the impacts of COVID-19.

The business groups pushing for these measures say federal officials appear open to easing access and potentially waiving the waiting period for employment insurance benefits for workers who need to go under quarantine.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is set to speak later today, said Friday that plans for Ottawa to help with these challenges were on the way.

But those comments came before an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia lowered the price of crude below budget projections, which experts say will hit the federal government’s bottom line.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press