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Quebec offers $2.5-billion aid package to businesses hurt by COVID-19

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has announced a $2.5-billion financial aid package for companies struggling with liquidity due the COVID-19 crisis.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said Thursday the government will offer companies a minimum of $50,000 each, in loans and loan guarantees, under unspecified terms he described as "very advantageous."

Fitzgibbon says the money will be distributed through existing programs and will be of particular assistance to smaller companies outside major cities, which have seen their revenues collapse.

He adds the government will also focus on helping industries it considers strategically important to the Quebec economy, such as aerospace, artificial intelligence and life sciences.

The province also announced it will follow suit with the federal government and reduce by 25 per cent the minimum withdrawal amount for registered retirement income funds this year.

Premier Francois Legault, who was also at Thursday's news conference, implored Quebecers to do their part to help businesses in the province by buying local.

"In the next weeks and months, it's more important than ever to buy products that are made in Quebec," Legault said. "That includes online. It's essential if we want to give a chance to the most companies to survive this."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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