Prime Minister Trudeau addresses nation from Ottawa

Banks asked for breaks

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UPDATE 8:42 a.m.

The federal government is asking banks and credit-card companies to lower interest rates on Canadians struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is also looking at extending lower-interest credit directly to consumers.

The Bank of Canada has slashed its trend-setting interest rate to try to cushion the blow to business from a slowing economy, but credit-card interest rates, the ones that matter most directly to most consumers, remain high.

Speaking at his Ottawa residence this morning, Trudeau says Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in talks with major banks about doing things to narrow the gap.

“We recognizes they are a significant challenge for many Canadians at this point,” Trudeau said.

“We are looking at making credit more available and less expensive for Canadians to make it for the next few months.”

He says the government is spending billions on programs to help individuals pay their bills over the next few months as the novel coronavirus forces people out of work due to illnesses and enforced closures.

He says lowering the costs Canadians have to pay as they rely on borrowing to cover their expenses is another part of the effort.

UPDATE 8:21 a.m.

A 14 day quarantine for those returning to Canada is now mandatory and the 'Quarantine Act' is now in place and those who violate the protocols will face fines and the possibility of jail of time.

The global co-ordination on the COVID-19 pandemic response is on the agenda today when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a video conference call with other leaders of the G20.

On the call with international leaders, Trudeau is set to discuss further global co-ordination in both the health and economic response to a rapidly spreading virus that, as several federal officials have stated: knows no borders.

Trudeau also indicates that all efforts are being made to shift production to key medical and essential supplies.

Trudeau also says it's vital to protect our supply chains to keep essential products like food flowing.

ORIGINAL 7:53 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to address the nation this morning at 8:15 a.m. Pacific time in what has become a daily occurrence from Ottawa.

The Prime Minister, announced Thursday morning that Kirsten Hillman has been appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to the United States.

“Today, we are announcing Kirsten Hillman as our country’s next Ambassador to the United States. When we worked together to negotiate the new NAFTA, I saw Ms. Hillman’s ability to stand up for Canadians and fight for their interests. She combines exceptional knowledge and skills, and is a gifted diplomat. Ms. Hillman will remain a trusted advisor, friend, and counsellor in Washington and is our point person with Congress and the U.S. administration. I know that Canadians will be well represented by her.”

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