Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday March 10, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Trudeau promises $1 billion for COVID-19 research, resilience

Measures would make it easier for people to stay home if sick

The federal government is rolling out a $1-billion funding package to help the country’s health-care system cope with the increasing number of new coronavirus cases and to help Canadian workers who are forced to isolate themselves.

It includes:

—$500 million to help provinces and territories with things like buying equipment, increased testing for COVID-19, and enhanced surveillance and monitoring

—$275 million for research for a vaccine

—$50 million to help buy masks and other supplies for health-care workers

The Liberals are also easing restrictions on employment insurance payments for people who take time off work and self-isolate due to illness by waiving the waiting period for benefits.

This would also make it easier for people with more precarious jobs to stay home and avoid infecting others, reducing the disruption to their incomes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is already preparing to do more if need be to provide support to Canadians as the situation progresses, including providing EI sickness benefits to those who don’t qualify for the program, such as those who are self-employed and “gig economy” workers.

He also indicated the government is considering what to do with incoming cruise ships to Canada, given the warning from the Public Health Agency of Canada to avoid them because of the risk of contracting the COVID-19.

READ MORE: B.C. officials confirm 7 new COVID-19 cases, including two health care workers

Trudeau wouldn’t say if there would be a time when the government needs to take stricter measures like community-wide lock downs, such as those in China and Italy.

“It’s not about time. It’s about the situation and the facts on the ground. We will closely monitor what is needed to be done to keep Canadians safe,” Trudeau said.

“While we are prepared for a wide range of scenarios, we will focus right now on what needs to be done now and endeavour to make sure that is enough, that we don’t have to take future steps.”

There are few confirmed instances of community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Canada, but the number of cases continues to grow.

So far, there have been 94 confirmed cases of the illness in Canada.

Trudeau says Canada has been fortunate so far, but Canadians individual behaviour — like washing hands, coughing into an elbow — can slow the spread of the infection.

The illness has sickened more than 100,000 people around the world.

Underlying the raw numbers is uncertainty about the depth and duration of the outbreak domestically and abroad. COVID-19 has shuttered factories in China, left Italy under lockdown, disrupted supply chains that Canadian businesses rely on and slowed the global economy.

The government plans to provide financing to businesses through Crown lending agencies, like the Business Development Bank of Canada, to help companies access credit to handle the economic shock. A similar program during the financial crisis just over a decade ago provided $11 billion to $10,000 firms.

Changes to the federal work-sharing program, which supplements wages when workers cut hours to avoid layoffs, will target companies affected by COVID-19 by doubling the length of benefits to 76 weeks from 38.

And the government says in a release that it is offering flexible payment plans to help businesses meet their tax obligations to the Canada Revenue Agency, which business groups have said should help with cash-flow issues.

READ MORE: Think before you buy or sell stocks amid COVID-19 market turmoil, B.C. professor urges

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CanadaCoronavirusJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sinclar Group curtailing all sawmill operations temporarily

Nechako Lumber, Apollo Forest Products and Lakeland Mills to be curtailed for three weeks starting April 5.

Fraser Lake launches campaign to support local businesses

Businesses have adapted and are providing delivery options, says economic development officer of the Village

Letter: Update on post spring-break plans from SD91

By Manu Madhok, Superintendent of Schools Dear Parents/Guardians, As we officially end… Continue reading

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Kitimat LNG Canada worker tests positive for COVID-19

The company announced the positive case to its workers on March 28

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

‘Drive right through’: Haida Gwaii First Nation erects checkpoint for non-residents

Skidegate Band Council Emergency Operations Centre erected checkpoint on April 2

Most Read