OTTAWA — Parliament has passed sweeping legislation designed to blunt the economic impact COVID-19.

Here’s a look at what’s in the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act:

— A new Canada Emergency Response Benefit that will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— a one-time additional payment under the GST/HST tax credit.

— a top up to the Canada Child Benefit.

— a reduction to required minimal withdrawals from registered retirement income funds by 25 per cent for 2020.

— a temporary wage subsidy for eligible small employers for a period of three months.

— authorization for the government to pay whatever is required in relation to “public health events of national concern,” including by making additional payments to the provinces, until Sept. 30.

—  authorization for the federal finance minister to increase the limit on insurance coverage for bank deposits until Sept. 30.

— authorization for the finance minister to increase capital available to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

— an expansion of the purposes and powers of Export Development Canada.

— authorization for the federal finance minister, until Sept. 30, to borrow money without going to cabinet, with a requirement that the minister report back on how that money has been spent.

— authorization for cabinet to make regulations under the Food and Drugs Act to require people to provide information to the federal health minister, prevent shortages of therapeutic products in Canada or alleviate those shortages or their effects, in order to protect human health.

— amends the Canada Labour Code to provide leave related to COVID-19 of up to 16 weeks and to provide for a quarantine leave under the medical leave regime.

— amends the National Housing Act to increase, for a period of five years, the maximum total for the outstanding insured amounts of all insured loans.

— amends the Patent Act to allow the government to make, construct, use and sell a patented invention to the extent necessary to respond to a public health emergency that is a matter of national concern.

— amends the Canada Student Loans Act and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act so that from March 30 to Sept. 30 there’s a freeze on requiring student loan repayments. There is also a freeze for the same period under the Apprentice Loans Act.

— amends the Farm Credit Canada Act to the give the federal finance minister the ability to increase how much it can lend.

— amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to give the finance minister the power to determine the limit on the aggregate of the paid-in capital — and any related contributed surplus — of the Business Development Bank and any proceeds prescribed as equity.

— amends the Employment Insurance Act to give the employment minister the power to make interim orders for the purpose of mitigating the economic effects of COVID-19.

— changes the Employment Insurance Act and related regulations to remove the requirement for a doctor’s note to access EI benefits. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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