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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 14, 2020. (AP/Meyer) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 14, 2020. (AP/Meyer)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 14, 2020. (AP/Meyer)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy March 25, 2020

Widespread Facebook post overstates Canadian government’s coronavirus response

If Your Time is short

  • All 10 Canadian provinces have closed schools either indefinitely or for a specified length of time. None have shut down schools for the school year.

  • New employment insurance benefits will send money to Canadian workers who have lost income as a result of the coronavirus. Not every family will benefit.

  • Canadian borrowers can defer up to six monthly mortgage payments, and a six-month, interest-free moratorium has been placed on student loans.

Facebook users are sharing a post that credits Canada with responding to the novel coronavirus in ways the United States has not. But the post muddles some details of Canada’s response.

"All schools in Canada are closed for the rest of the school year, each family will receive $950 every two weeks for the next 15 weeks, banks were notif(ied) to suspend mortgage payments for at least six months, and student loans deferred," the March 21 Facebook post says. 

"Imagine if the United States did this," it says.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

In reality, schools in Canada’s provinces have not yet been shut down through the year’s end. The Facebook post also mischaracterized the employment insurance measures that Canada implemented to provide income support for Canadians who miss work due to the coronavirus.

Schools are closed, but not necessarily for the year

Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories have mandated school closures "with varying dates, which in some cases coincide with the term break," according to UNESCO

As of March 25, here’s what each of Canada’s provinces has decided for its schools:

In sum, the Facebook post overstated the extent of Canada’s school closures, although the situation could change. All 10 provinces have shut down schools for some length of time, but as of March 25, no province had ordered schools closed for the rest of the school year.

Economic support measures

The Facebook post also mischaracterized Canada’s economic response to the coronavirus.

On March 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several actions, some of which were replaced in the final legislation, that the government would take to temper the economic burden faced by Canadians.

For starters, the government implemented "a six-month, interest-free, moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans" and secured "a six-month payment deferral for mortgages," according to the press release.

The government also pledged to introduce an emergency care benefit to provide pay for people who miss work due to the coronavirus and do not have access to paid sick leave. 

The benefit would have provided "up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks" to Canadian workers who are sick, quarantined, under instructions to self-isolate or taking care of a family member or child who is sick, quarantined, self-isolating or home from school due to closures.

That’s not $950 — nor is it worth the same amount in American dollars — and it would not have gone to "each family" every two weeks, as the Facebook post wrongly claimed. 

The emergency care benefit would have applied only to workers impacted by COVID-19, while an expansion of child benefits would have delivered more money to families with children.

More importantly, the emergency care benefit and another proposed benefit for workers facing unemployment were eventually replaced by the "Emergency Response Benefit," which will give $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income due to COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the Canadian minister of finance’s office directed us to a press release detailing the new and more generous benefit, which was enacted into law on March 25.

The $2,000 per month is roughly the same as $950 every two weeks. But again, it will only apply to workers who lose income due to the coronavirus. It won’t apply to "each family."

A government webpage detailing Canada’s efforts to support individuals outlines the emergency response benefit, the six-month moratorium placed on student loans and the flexibility provided to borrowers who need to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments.

Our ruling

A Facebook post said: "All schools in Canada are closed for the rest of the school year, each family will receive $950 every two weeks for the next 15 weeks, banks were notif(ied) to suspend mortgage payments for at least six months, and student loans deferred."

The post is right about mortgage payments and student loans. But it overstates the impact of Canada’s new employment insurance benefits and exaggerates the extent of school closures.

We rate this statement Half True.

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 21, 2020

Government websites for each of Canada’s provinces, accessed March 25, 2020

Statutes of Canada 2020, Bill C-13, March 25, 2020

Government of Canada, "Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses," March 25, 2020

Government of Canada, "Support for Individuals," March 25, 2020 

Justin Trudeau on Twitter, March 25, 2020

Ontario Ministry of Education, "Departments of Education Across Canada," accessed March 25, 2020

CTV News, "Feds announce boost to emergency COVID-19 aid benefit," March 25, 2020

National Post, "Emergency COVID-19 bill that ups $27 billion in direct support to $52 billion gets royal assent," March 25, 2020

CBC News, "Parliament passes Ottawa's $107 billion COVID-19 aid package," March 25, 2020

UNESCO, "COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response," accessed March 24, 2020

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, "Prime Minister announces more support for workers and businesses through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan," March 18, 2020

Justin Trudeau on Twitter, March 18, 2020

CanadianPM on Twitter, March 18, 2020

Global News, "Coronavirus: Canada is enhancing its child-care benefit. Here’s how much parents will get," March 18, 2020

The Star, "Here’s what each Canadian province is doing to ‘flatten the curve’ of the novel coronavirus," March 15, 2020

Phone and email correspondence with Maéva Proteau, press secretary for Canada’s Office of the Minister of Finance, March 25, 2020

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More by Bill McCarthy

Widespread Facebook post overstates Canadian government’s coronavirus response

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