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

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

NIC practical nursing students hone skills on pandemic’s front line

‘It also has become clear that this is my thing,’ – NIC practical nursing student Breanna Patterson

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Vancouver Island family loses everything after house fire next door

Friends of Paula and Clifford Lucas are raising funds to help the young family

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read