Airlines under pressure amid COVID-19 and border closures
Canada has an agreement in place with airlines to bring stranded residents home, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The first flight is set to leave Morocco via Air Canada this weekend, Trudeau said at a press conference outside his official residence in Ottawa. Flights are also planned for Peru and Spain. The government will pay the extra costs to bring them back, he said.
In a separate media briefing, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the government will give up to C$5,000 to each Canadian stuck abroad to purchase a flight home or stay in their location comfortably during the coronavirus pandemic. “It will not be possible to ensure the return of all Canadians,” he said.
Trudeau said Canada is in a strong fiscal position and has room to inject more capital into the economy if needed. Earlier this week, his government unveiled a $82 billion fiscal package to soften the economic blow. That could drive Canada’s budget deficit past $100 billion this year.
On Friday, Trudeau said more than 500,000 people, or about 2.5 per cent of the labour force, have applied for jobless claims this week, smashing previous records and suggesting the nation is already in a deep recession.
Canada is getting more equipment for coronavirus testing and will continue to ramp up testing on the virus, Trudeau said during his remarks from Ottawa. Canada now has more than 1,000 infected patients and 13 deaths. About 83,000 people have been tested.