Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the federal government will be providing $350 to the Canadian charities sector to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his daily national address from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, the Prime Minister of Canada said that both national and local charities have seen a severe drop in donations as a result of the current crisis. According to Trudeau, this has been because donors are hurting financially themselves, organizations are having to spend more money in finding innovative ways to deliver services and social restrictions have created an inability to hold fundraising events.
“Before this pandemic, charities and non-profit organizations were doing crucial work to help our communities,” said Trudeau during his press conference. “Their mission has always been to support people in their time of need and that hasn’t changed, but COVID-19 is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on these organizations because more people need help.”
The Prime Minister said because of these reasons, the government is creating the emergency community support fund and will be allocating the $350 million to a mix of organizations across the country.
“A portion of these funds will go directly to smaller, independent front line organizations and the rest will flow through national organizations like the United Way, Community Foundations Canada and the Red Cross that can get funds to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly,” said Trudeau.
The Prime Minister said that the money will be for things like training new volunteers, increasing at-home deliveries for seniors and driving people with disabilities to appointments.
“With this fund, we’re giving more resources to charities and non-profits so they can adapt to the new realities and difficulties brought on by this pandemic,” added Trudeau.
Estimates from Imagine Canada, a charity that promotes the work other charities do, suggest donations will decline between $4.2 billion and $6.3 billion, and that between 117,000 and 195,000 workers could be laid off depending on the length of the COVID-19 crisis.
The federal pledge falls short of the $10 billion that charities had been asking for as a stabilization fund, but many are expected to access a wage subsidy program to help hire back laid-off staff.
In addition to the funds for Canadian charities, Trudeau provided a highly anticipated update on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. The date that businesses can now apply for government funding through the wage subsidy is set for Monday, April 27. The government will be providing up to $847 per week in employee wages to companies struggling during the pandemic.
For businesses trying to calculate how much funding they will receive, Trudeau said there is a new wage subsidy calculator available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is expected to provide further details on the rollout of the wage subsidy program on Tuesday.