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PM Trudeau announces $1B funding towards COVID-19 ‘pandemic’


OTTAWA, ON., (March 11, 2020) – Just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the global spread of the virus a pandemic, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $1-billion package to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

PM Trudeau said at a news conference today that the Canadian government will do everything it can to help curtail the global health crisis.

“I want all premiers and Canadians to know our government is here for you. We will make sure you have everything you need,” said PM Trudeau.

Half of the funding will go to the provinces and territories. The fund includes $200 million for federal medical supplies including surgical masks, face shields, increased awareness for Indigenous communities and education efforts, and it will also invest an additional $275 million for increased research, medical counter measures such as vaccine development, and support for clinical trials.

Trudeau also stated that the Government of Canada will waive the mandatory one-week waiting period for employment insurance to kick in and assist workers and businesses affected by COVID-19, and explore other measures to support affected Canadians, including income supports for those who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.

The Prime Minister reassured Canadians that no jobs would be lost. Trudeau said, “Let me be clear. No one should have to worry about their job if they have to be quarantined. No employer should feel like they have to lay off a worker because of the virus.”

“We can support you and we will,” asserted Canada’s Prime Minister.

Should businesses face a ‘cash crunch’ in the short term, Trudeau said they can easily access credit to bridge to better times.

”The fundamentals of the Canadian economy are strong,” said Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance. “But we know COVID-19 is having an impact on global economic activity, and our strong fiscal position means we are well positioned to respond to any challenges. This announcement demonstrates that the government is ready to act to protect Canadians and ensure that our economy remains strong.”

“Canadians can count on us to provide them with the right kind of support as the situation progresses,” concluded the Prime Minister Trudeau.

“The resources announced today will help our hospitals and clinics across the country respond to any surge in demand,” said Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health. “They will also increase our ability to educate Canadians about actions we can all take to limit the spread of COVID-19. I thank all health care workers and organizations working so hard to protect the health of Canadians. We stand by you and will ensure that you have the resources you need to continue your vital work.”

In addition to continuing our work to ensure a coordinated response across the country, the Government of Canada is also proposing new investments to respond in Canada and around the world. These investments will include actions to:

  • Help Canadians make informed decisions and take action to protect their health and their communities by providing $50 million to support the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 communications and public education efforts.
  • Further support public health preparedness by providing $500 million to provinces and territories for critical health care system needs and to support mitigation efforts as needed. This could include help to support with access to testing, acquisition of equipment, and to enhance surveillance and monitoring. Financial considerations should not and will not be an obstacle to hospitals and health systems making the necessary preparations.
  • Provide support to workers in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate who will claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits by waiving the mandatory one-week waiting period so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. We are exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, including income support for those who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
  • Introduce enhancements to the Work-Sharing program to help support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19. Work-sharing helps keep workers employed and able to receive income support even as their hours of work may be reduced. These enhancements will double the length of time that employers and workers are eligible to use work-share from 38 to 76 weeks, and streamline processes so help can be accessed as soon as possible.
  • Support federal public health measures such as enhanced surveillance, increased testing at the National Microbiology Laboratory, and ongoing support for preparedness in First Nations and Inuit communities, by providing $100 million. This is in addition to an initial $50 million that was provided to support the immediate public health response.
  • Enhance Canada’s capacity in research and development, including research on medical countermeasures, including antivirals, vaccine development and support for clinical trials, by providing $275 million in additional funding building on top of the recent $27 million announcement to fund coronavirus research in Canada.
  • Ensure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment like surgical masks, face shields, and isolation gowns by providing $50 million to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support purchases for provinces and territories, as well as to address federal needs.
  • Address the worldwide outbreak and help more vulnerable countries prepare for and respond to the virus by contributing an additional $50 million to support the efforts of the World Health Organization and other partners.

As of March 10, there are nearly 100 confirmed COVID-10 cases in Canada. Trudeau’s news conference follows the tumultuous start to the week for the economy, as financial markets plunged in response to COVID-19 fears and a sharp drop in global oil prices. His announcement precedes the First Ministers’ meeting taking place in Ottawa later this week. (March 11, 2020)

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