Federal government offers bridge financing for big businesses hit by COVID-19

The federal government is offering bridge financing for big Canadian businesses across all sectors to help them keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic.

The large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs aren’t being met through conventional financing.

The goal is to protect jobs and help businesses weather the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and avoid going bankrupt, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday.

The program is open to large commercial businesses in all sectors except those in the financial sector, as well as certain not-for-profit businesses like airports that have revenues of $300 million or more a year.

To qualify, businesses must be looking for financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada and not be involved in ongoing insolvency proceedings. 

Morneau said the program is to help companies that have a “significant footprint” in Canada bridge to better days. It is not intended to be a low-cost loan program for companies that don’t need it or to bail out companies that were already in financial trouble before the pandemic.

The program is to help those companies that are employing millions of Canadians.

“Canada needs them to stay strong through this crisis,” Morneau said during a news conference in Toronto Monday.

Morneau said the companies must disclose their climate action plans and sustainability goals to qualify and must meet other conditions, including not having “excessive” executive pay. Companies that have been found guilty of tax evasion are disqualified.

Details are still being worked out and information on the application process is expected shortly.

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