The federal government announced a $1-billion funding package to deal with the impact of the coronavirus, in a March 11, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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

OTTAWA — 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.

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

FILE - A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Tim Hortons to test deposit program for returnable coffee cups and packaging

Test program to start at select Toronto restaurants

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump, center left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chat before a round table meeting of NATO leaders in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Evan Vucci
US NATO allies still short on defence spending aims

None of the 30 allies owes NATO or its members money

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Red Deer city council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 28 about whether to take the future expansion of Molly Banister Drive off the table. (Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff).
Opinion: Molly Banister extension isn’t as important as quality of life

Citizen opposition to the Molly Banister Drive extension has grown since the… Continue reading

Email letters to editor@interior-news.com
I ask myself: ‘What the hell’ has happened to Red Deer?

I moved to Red Deer on Nov. 1, 2001, and I fell… Continue reading

Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod wipes tears from her eyes after losing 2-1 to England during a FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday June 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canadian ‘keeper Erin McLeod happy in Iceland, looks to help others stay positive

Orlando loaned McLeod to Iceland’s Ungmennafelag Stjarnan in August

FILE - Toronto Raptors’ Fred VanVleet (23) goes up for a shot agains the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Raptors do without live visits from potential recruits as NBA draft approaches

No opportunity to bring players to Toronto training facility

FILE - This Dec. 11, 2019 file photo shows Channing Dungey at The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala in Los Angeles. Dungey has been named chairman, Warner Bros. Television Group, starting her tenure at the studio early next year. The news was announced today by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, to whom she will report. Dungey will succeed Peter Roth who will be stepping down from his Studio responsibilities running the TV Group and its operating divisions in early 2021. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Study: TV industry falls short of off-camera inclusivity

Whites held 92 per cent of chair and CEO positions

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Most Read