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PM announces $350M for charities, non-profits amid pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on COVID-19 in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The federal government has announced more support for the groups that help take care of Canada’s most vulnerable people.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $350-million community support fund to help organizations provide much-needed support to those in need.

He said on Tuesday these groups have struggled amid the crisis, and have been forced to change the way they operate in the face of social isolation and physical distancing requirements.

Much of the money will flow through three national groups to help Canada’s 86,000 registered charities deal with initial impacts of the pandemic, with a portion of funds going to small, independent organizations, Trudeau explained.

He noted charities and non-profits are doing tremendous work to meet tremendous demand for their services.

Charities have seen a severe drop in donations since the pandemic broke out, with donors hurting financially themselves, and organizations unable to hold fundraising events.

Estimates from Imagine Canada, a charity that promotes the work other charities do, suggest donations will decline between $4.2 billion and $6.3 billion, and that between 117,000 and 195,000 workers could be laid off depending on the length of the COVID-19 crisis.

The federal pledge falls short of the $10 billion charities had been asking for as a stabilization fund, but many are expected to access a wage subsidy program to help hire back laid-off staff.

The funding announced Tuesday, the prime minister said, will be used for helping train volunteers, transportation for vulnerable people, and home delivery of groceries and other services, among other things.

Meanwhile, Trudeau said online applications for that 75-per-cent wage subsidy program will open next week.

Federal officials told the House of Commons finance committee last week that they expect to process 90 per cent of applications by the first week of May, at which point payments will begin flowing.

Trudeau added the Canada Revenue Agency is setting up a calculator so employers can see how much they can expect to receive from the wage-subsidy program, which will provide up to $847 per employee per week.