Canada recommends masks, says emergency loans have no caps, but many limits

OTTAWA (Reuters) – There will be no cap on the size of Canada’s emergency loans to large businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be multiple restrictions, the government said on Wednesday because it has recommended to wear masks in public for the first time.

“We are not offering a bailout to businesses,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said of the loan facility at his daily press conference. The goal is to help them “weather this storm,” Trudeau said.

Also on Wednesday, medical authorities urged Canadians to wear non-medical masks.

“In situations where you cannot physically move 2 meters (6 feet) away, people are encouraged to wear masks,” said Trudeau, who later donned one when he entered Parliament.

For a second day in a row, coronavirus deaths in Canada increased by less than 1% from the previous day, according to official data.

The Emergency Funding Mechanism for Large Employers www.cdev.gc.ca/leeff-factsheet (LEEFF) on Wednesday is accepting applications from all companies, except finance, with annual revenue of C $ 300 million ($ 216 million) or more that are seeking funding from at minus C $ 60 million.

Among LEEFF’s restrictions, publicly traded companies issue warrants offering the ability to buy shares or receive cash equivalents, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters, in order to allow the state to “share in the upside borrowers who see the recovery coming”.

Public health limitations aimed at slowing the pandemic have stunned businesses in Canada and around the world.

Air Canada AC.TO said last week it was downsizing by up to 60%. Canada’s oil industry is facing its worst crisis in 40 years.

A spokesperson for Canada’s second-largest oil producer Suncor Energy SU.TO said the company had managed its business “in such a way that it did not have to depend on these types of programs at the moment”.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Will Dunham and Marguerita Choy

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