UPDATE 1-Canada Launches New Business Rent Assistance Program, Expands Support for Other Coronaviruses

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(New first paragraph, adds costs planned until December)

OTTAWA, Oct. 9 (Reuters) – Canada on Friday announced a series of new and improved aids for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including a new rent subsidy program to replace its old rent relief program , very criticized.

Canada’s Emergency Rent Subsidy Program will provide direct support to businesses and other organizations facing loss of income, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference. The program will run until June 2021.

The government will also provide “additional and targeted” supports to businesses that are forced by a public health order to temporarily shut down to help curb coronavirus infections, Freeland said.

“As we fight the second wave of COVID-19, public health officials have imposed further restrictions. It’s the right thing to do, but it imposes costs, ”Freeland said. “This new targeted support will help businesses navigate bottlenecks. “

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at the same press conference, said Canada was at a crossroads in tackling a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

Freeland said Canada’s emergency wage subsidy program has been extended until June 2021 and the Canada Business Emergency Account will be expanded to allow for larger, partially repayable loans.

Together, the three programs are expected to cost an additional C $ 19.6 billion ($ 14.9 billion) through December 19, 2020.

Trudeau’s Liberal government said in July that the 2020-2021 budget deficit would likely reach C $ 343.2 billion, mostly due to COVID-19 aid, the largest deficit since World War II.

Under the previous rent relief program, which expired at the end of September, landlords had to apply for a forgivable loan that would cover half of a tenant’s rent. The tenant was to pay a quarter and the landlord was to absorb the rest.

Its budget was $ 2.97 billion Canadian. As of Oct. 7, it had helped some 130,000 small businesses at a cost of about Can $ 1.8 billion, the government said. ($ 1 = 1.3129 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Richard Chang and Paul Simao)

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