Canadian banks move to help customers, allow deferral of mortgage payments

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The Canadian flag blows in the wind in the heart of the financial district in Toronto on June 27, 2018. HSBC Bank Canada says it will lower its prime lending rate by 50 basis points effective tomorrow. The bank says in a statement the rate will be 2.95 per cent -- down from 3.45 per cent. The move matches action by several Canadian banks and financial institutions Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

TORONTO  Canada’s big banks are moving to provide financial breathing room to customers hurt by disruptions from the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19

The big six banks say they will allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months among other changes.

The banks urged Canadians or business owners facing hardship to contact their bank directly to discuss options that may be available.

The move comes as the large banks work together in their efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus by temporarily limiting branch operating hours and reducing the number of branches, while maintaining critical services.

Public health officials have urged people to limit contact with others in an effort to limit the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Businesses across the country have responded by cutting back, changing their operations and finding ways to allow employees to work from home.

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