Canada will be extending pandemic wage and rent subsidies through to June 5, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced today.
The minister also addressed news that broke yesterday that Canada's pandemic spending, and the billions in new debt it created, shrank the country's real gross domestic product by 5.4 per cent, the sharpest decline since comparable data started being tracked in 1961.
Freeland defended the spending, saying the measures kept Canadians from "falling off an economic cliff."
Shutting down large swaths of the economy in March and April is to blame for the impact to the GDP, Statistics Canada said. Federal spending cushioned the blow, the Canadian Press reported, while Statistics Canada said Monday government aid more than made up for losses in salaries and wages, particularly for low-income households.
Canadians also saved more, accumulating $212 billion in savings in 2020, about $184 billion more than expected. That available cash could help jolt the economy over the course of the year as vaccines rollout and the situation stabilizes and recovers.
Despite the shrinkage to the GDP, Canada ended the year on a strong note with the economy growing at an annualized rate of 9.6 per cent over the last three months of 2020,
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced today a $518-million investment in research through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
-with files from Canadian Press