Trudeau to provide $1 billion fund in response to COVID-19

Mar 11 2020, 7:01 am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will provide a $1 billion response fund to all provinces and territories to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

The comprehensive response package will provide money across the country to mitigate and prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

“We want all premiers and Canadians to know our government is here for you,” Trudeau said in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

The prime minister said $500 million will be given provinces and territories for critical health care system needs and mitigation efforts. This could include increased support with access to testing, acquisition of equipment, and enhanced surveillance and monitoring.

Trudeau also outlined that $200 million will be allocated to the federal level to buy more surgical masks, have increased public health response for Indigenous communities, and to increase the public education effort to responsibly inform the public about the disease.

Another $275 million will go towards research and medical countermeasures due to the large volume of responses from researchers across the country to have more resources to combat the disease.

The additional funding will amplify the country’s ability to generate the research needed to contain the illness or develop a vaccine, or specific treatments needed, Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, said at the conference.

“We are developing a Canadian response, but it contributes to the global response too,” Hajdu said.

There is also a focus on the economic impact that coronavirus could have on employment and business profitability.

The federal government said they will provide support to workers in quarantine or in self-isolation who will claim Employment Insurance sickness benefits by waving the mandatory one week waiting period so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. And if any businesses are facing a “cash crunch” they can access credit to get the help needed through the Credit Availability Program.

Enhancements to the work-sharing program will offer workers who are experiencing a downturn un their business due to COVID-19 will be able to receive income support even if their work hours may be reduced.

“We can see commodity prices are affected, as are our oil and gas industry and tourism, which is adding to peoples’ anxieties,” Trudeau said. “We are applying the lessons we learned during SARS and are pulling out all the stops to make sure Canadians are safe.”

Last week the federal government also created a new Cabinet committee to tackle COVID-19, headed by Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Another $50 million will go towards efforts of the World Health Organization and other global partners.

To date, there have been 93 positive cases confirmed in Canada, with one death reported in British Columbia on Monday.