- Both Canada and the US are attempting to alleviate the devastating economic crisis caused by the coronavirus with a series of relief packages designed to help keep individuals and businesses afloat.
- But when it comes to relief for individual citizens, the two countries have taken different policy routes.
- While the US is sending stimulus checks to all tax-paying Americans who make under a certain amount annually, Canada is providing more generous direct payments to those who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 or who make up to $US1,000 per month.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Both Canada and the US are attempting to alleviate the devastating economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic with a series of relief packages designed to help keep individuals and businesses afloat.
But when it comes to direct financial support for individual citizens, the two countries have taken different policy routes.
In the US, President Donald Trump signed a $US2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on March 27 that includes one-time payments of up to $US1,200 to all Americans making up to $US99,000. The payments are worth up to $US2,400 per married couple, with an additional $US500 going to parents for each child they claim as a dependent who is 16 or younger. The money is not taxed and doesn’t need to be paid back to the government.
Many Democrats are pushing for more generous direct payments to be included in the next phase of the relief effort. The Internal Revenue Service has begun delivering those payments by mail and through direct deposit, but about half of the checks have yet to be delivered, in part due to failures with the system.
More generous stimulus checks could be part of a fourth stimulus package, which the White House is currently discussing with Congress. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president have said they’re interested in a “second round” of stimulus checks.
Meanwhile, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment – the highest rate since the Great Depression – in the four weeks since Trump declared a national emergency. Some experts say the unemployment rate has already risen to a staggering 20%. As a result, unemployment offices in states across the country have been unable to meet the spike in demand.
In Canada, the government is having residents 15 years of age and older apply for up to $US2,000 in direct monthly payments for the next four months. Initially, the program was open only to those who’ve lost employment or can’t work because of the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this week, the government expanded eligibility to anyone who earns up to $US1,000 per month.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced earlier this week that the government will boost salaries for essential workers who make less than $US2,500 per month.
Canada’s existing social safety net is significantly more robust than the US’s. Perhaps most notably, the country has a universal single-payer healthcare system which ensures all Canadians have access to coronavirus testing and treatment free of charge.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 million Americans are currently living without any form of health insurance. While testing for the virus is free in the US, the cost of related treatment and hospitalisation has the potential to bankrupt many Americans, even those who have insurance.
Tanza Loudenback contributed to this report.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.