Quebec moves tax deadline to June as COVID-19 cases rise

Quebec will be extending tax filing season to ease any pressure on residents coping with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here's what else you need to know.

'Small business owners, big business, citizens — it's difficult for everyone,' finance minister says

A pedestrian walks past Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal. The province sought to ease demands on taxpayers Monday, pushing back April 30 filing deadline. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
  • 74 confirmed cases in Quebec as of Tuesday, up from 50 a day earlier and 39 on Sunday. More than 3,700 people are under investigation.
  • Quebec will delay tax filing season beyond April 30. Taxes will not have to be paid until July 31.
  • There will be no emergency shelters in case of spring floods this year.
  • A confirmed COVID-19 patient took Montreal-area public transit on March 10.
  • Call 1-877-644-4545 if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms instead of 811.
  • Starting today, Quebec will be able to conduct 6,000 COVID-19 tests a day, up from 1,600.
  • Montreal public health says the likelihood that there is community transmission is "probable."
  • Quebec's rental board, the Régie du logement, is suspending eviction hearings.
  • There is now increased screening at Montreal's Trudeau airport, one of only four airports in the country where foreign flights can land. 
  • The province's National Assembly adjourned until late April.

Quebec will be extending tax filing season beyond April 30 to ease pressure on residents coping with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak, the province's finance minister announced Tuesday.

The delay will push back the date for filing provincial income statements for individuals to June 1. The taxes owed will not need to be paid until July 31.

Eric Girard said people should still strive to file by April 30, especially if they are expecting a tax return. If taxes are filed before the end of April, tax returns will roll out on time, he said.

Companies are expected to file on time, but will also not need to pay until July 31.

"Small business owners, big business, citizens — it's difficult for everyone. Agriculture sector, tourism, restaurants, I'm certain that gym owners have it hard too," Girard said.

"It's important that our actions be precise and efficient."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he's also open to extending the federal tax deadline.

Girard said the delay represents over $7 billion will remain in the hands of Quebecers and businesses.

He also said Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon will announce additional measures to assist businesses in the coming days.

Long-term economic impact unknown

When asked what impact the crisis would have on the Quebec economy, Girard said it was hard to predict.

"I don't have numbers. I don't know how long this will last," he said. "What's going to happen with public health will determine the economic impact."

Despite strong economic growth in February, there was a contraction of the world economy in March, he said.

"How many months will resemble the month of March? That's extremely important."

The announcement comes a week after Girard tabled the provincial budget. At the time, he said Quebec was "well-equipped" to weather the crisis.

His budget speech made all of one reference to coronavirus, and the budget itself contained no specific measures to deal with the outbreak or its economic consequences.

The CAQ passed additional budget appropriations on Tuesday before it adjourned until April, giving the government access to $500 million to pay for things like the emergency daycare that will serve essential workers.

COVID-19 testing capacity to increase

Also new Tuesday, Quebec will increase its COVID-19 testing capacity, from 1,600 to 6,000 tests a day.

Previously, tests had only been sent to the province's Public Health Laboratory in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, in Montreal's West Island. Now, seven other medical centres and hospitals will be able to analyze results as well.

"We will do that — test, test, test," said Quebec's director of public health, Horacio Arruda, Monday. "The transmission here is still at its beginning. I'm not telling you there is no transmission ... but we will soon be testing, testing, and testing."

This comes a day after Montreal public health officials said there was likely community transmission in the city that hasn't been detected.

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said there will not be emergency shelters in place this year in the event of flooding.

Montreal's Grande Bibliothèque is among the locations closed for at least the next two weeks. Much of the city has been shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Public health officials were dispatched to Trudeau airport starting Monday, to create an additional checkpoint for arriving passengers to inform them about COVID-19.

Workers are handing out flyers with details about how travellers should self-isolate, as well as recommendations for tracking their symptoms. 

Trudeau airport is now one of only four airports in the country where international flights will be allowed to land.

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