Trudeau cabinet meets to discuss rebuilding amid rising number of COVID-19 cases

Trudeau cabinet meets to discuss rebuilding amid rising number of COVID-19 cases

Trudeau cabinet meets to discuss rebuilding amid rising number of COVID-19 cases

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians against relaxing their guard against COVID-19 as he and his cabinet kicked off two days of closed-door meetings to discuss the pandemic and how to lead the country through a second wave.

The past several weeks have seen a resurgence in COVID-19 across Canada after a summer lull, which Trudeau said is a reminder that Canada is “not out of the woods yet.”

“We need to continue to remain vigilant,” he said Monday before launching the cabinet retreat in a Global Affairs Canada office building in Ottawa. “The last thing anyone wants is to go into this fall in a lockdown similar to this spring, and the way we can prevent that is by remaining vigilant.”

The retreat is to focus in part on the Sept. 23 throne speech, which Trudeau had initially promised would lay out a bold plan for a post-pandemic economic recovery. But the speech is now expected to focus more on the immediate challenge of getting through the continuing pandemic without wreaking worse economic havoc .

“We need to get through this in order to be able to talk about next steps,” Trudeau said Monday.

“So a lot of what we’re going to be doing during this retreat will be talking about how we continue to keep COVID under control, continue to make sure that Canadians are safe, that we’re not overloading our health-care system.”

At the conclusion of the retreat’s opening day, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said ministers discussed various scenarios for how the pandemic might play out this fall.

“One would be a slow burn where you see these little bumps and peaks and valleys and we work really hard to put out those outbreaks. But the other scenario could be a very severe fall surge and what we need to be is prepared for either of those potential outcomes,” she said.

“There is always the possibility that the numbers could grow exponentially … This is a sneaky virus. It can easily infiltrate communities, households and we have to take it seriously, we cannot let up.”

Ministers heard presentations from Canada’s top public health doctor, Theresa Tam, and the co-chairs of two federal task forces: one created to advise the government on measures to support developing a COVID-19 vaccine and the other on COVID-19 immunity.

While the immediate challenges of the pandemic must take precedence, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson argued that doesn’t mean the government is abandoning its longer term goals, like combating climate change.

“Canadians are worried about the pandemic and the government’s first priority has been and will continue to be supporting people through this,” Wilkinson said during a short break in the ministers’ meetings.

“I do think, though, that Canadians are also looking to us to think about how we build back in a way that actually promotes resilience for the Canadian economy and for Canadians generally going forward. Part of that is considering the potential impacts of climate change in the future.”

Trudeau said the pandemic has “exposed weaknesses in our country where vulnerable people are continuing to slip through the cracks (but) our focus is very much on what we need to do to control COVID-19.”

To that end, details on the longer-term recovery measures aren’t expected until an economic statement later in the fall.

The government is operating on the assumption that the global fight against the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will continue for at least two more years, and that rebuilding the economy then will depend on protecting it now.

Insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter, have previously laid out three priorities that will be included in the throne speech.

Those are measures to protect Canadians’ health and avoid another national lockdown; the economic supports needed to keep Canadians financially afloat while the pandemic continues; and longer-term measures to eventually rebuild the economy.

In particular, the Liberals are expected to promise more funding for health care, including long-term care homes, along with affordable housing and child care to help parents, especially women, get back to and stay at work.

The government has already shovelled billions into emergency aid to help Canadians weather the pandemic. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos defended Monday the government’s plan to spend more, despite a projected deficit this year of almost $350 billion.

“We need to keep investing in Canadians to avoid moving from a recession to a depression,” he said, characterizing the strategy as akin to taking care of a cold so it doesn’t evolve into pneumonia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

politics

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

Just Posted

NDP MP Heather McPherson pictured in Edmonton on Friday, March 6, 2020. Alberta’s legislature may have been silenced but its partisan warfare has relocated to the House of Commons as MPs hold an emergency debate tonight on the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney under fire during Commons emergency debate on Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis

Edmonton New Democrat MP says Kenney ignored the evidence of science

A Torrington School music program is one of 95 beneficiaries across the country of grants from MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. (Black Press file photo).
Torrington music program gets grant to purchase instruments

A Torrington school will be able to replace worn out band instruments… Continue reading

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Most Read