Trudeau announces extension of CAN-USA border agreement, expansion of CEBA eligibility

Trudeau announces extension of CAN-USA border agreement, expansion of CEBA eligibility
Justin Tang/Canadian Press
PM Trudeau confirmed the extension of the Canada-USA border closure agreement, while unveiling an expansion of CEBA eligibility requirements

The United States has agreed to Canada’s request to extend the mutual ban on non-essential cross-border travel until June 21, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the extension on Tuesday, during a national address to Canadians from outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.

“This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe,” said the prime minister.

The deal, which prohibits non-essential travel while permitting trade shipments, commerce and essential workers to continue to move in both directions, was first reached in mid-March and extended for 30 days last month. This is the second time the closure has been extended since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked by the media if the Canadian government was looking at a possible further extension of this agreement beyond June, Trudeau said that they are making decisions “week to week” as the COVID-19 situation evolves and will assess that decision at a later date.

Officials and stakeholders on both sides of the border have hailed the agreement as a successful measure in curbing the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring vital supply chains remain intact.

The U.S. is currently home to more than 1.5 million active cases of COVID-19, 42 per cent of the world’s active caseload, and a death toll that crossed the 90,000 threshold over the weekend, growing at a rate of more than 1,000 fatalities a day. By comparison, Canada currently has over 33,000 active cases with a death toll sitting just below 6,000. Here in British Columbia, there are only 335 active cases as of May 19.

Along with confirming the border extension between the two North American nations, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) eligibility requirements.

This government program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits in an effort to help cover their operating costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister said on Tuesday that any sole owners and operators of a business, any business that relies on contractors, and any family-owned business that pays employees through dividends will now be eligible to access the CEBA program.

“For a hair salon owner with stylists who rent chairs, for a local physiotherapist, for an independent gym owner with contracted trainers this is for you,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

Trudeau said more details will be revealed in the near future when these groups can apply for the CEBA.

The prime minister also suggested that Mary Ng, the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, was working on additional solutions for business owners and entrepreneurs that operate through their personal bank account instead of a business account.

He added that for any business that still doesn’t meet these requirements, they should reach out to Canada’s Regional Development Agencies, which received new government funding last week.

More to come.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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