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

West Shore RCMP searching for missing Langford man

The 59-year-old man was last seen Aug. 23 and was reported missing to police Sept. 20

Saanich police searching for high-risk missing man

The 35-year-old was last seen at his Saanich residence on Sept. 15

After 53 years, Saanich Jr. B team rebrands as Predators

Saanich Predators Junior B hockey team navigates COVID, culture

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Customs House construction site in Victoria

Investigation continues into the circumstance of man’s death

New Sooke library project awarded to Nanaimo-based company

No construction timeline announced by contractor

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Sept. 22

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Most Read