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Canada to help businesses hit by coronavirus: PM
[OTTAWA] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled on Tuesday his government's readiness to help Canadian businesses weather the novel coronavirus epidemic, if necessary.
No specific measures were announced, however, while his office told AFP the potential impact is still being assessed and a response drawn up.
"We recognise the very real economic impacts of the coronavirus globally," Mr Trudeau told a televised news conference in Halifax.
"We are coordinating globally to try and make sure that there is a lesser impact on the global economy," he said.
"We also recognise that there will be impacts on Canadian businesses, on Canadian entrepreneurs, and we will always look for ways to minimize that impact and perhaps give help where help is needed."
Mr Trudeau's comments followed a conference call in which Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his counterparts from G-7 leading industrialised nations agreed to use "all appropriate policy tools" to keep the virus epidemic from throttling economic growth.
The disease that began in China has killed more than 3,100 people and infected more than 91,000.
Canada has reported only 29 cases as of Tuesday morning, in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec provinces.
Mr Trudeau said the risk of the virus spreading in Canada was relatively low.
"I think the numbers so far bear it out," he said. "But we of course will continue to monitor (the situation) very, very closely."
Earlier, the US Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate cut in response to the growing economic risk posed by the epidemic.
The Bank of Canada had been widely expected to maintain its key lending rate at 1.75 per cent until at least April.
But after the US move, analysts said the Canadian central bank would likely follow suit at its next meeting on Wednesday, marking its first rate cut since July 2015.
Government data released last week showed the Canadian economy (GDP) slowed in 2019 to 1.6 percent, from 2.0 per cent in 2018. The central bank has projected growth to remain at 1.6 per cent this year.