A summary of the day's activities of Thursday, September 24, follows.
Federal Government Relief Measures
- Bill C-2, An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19 provides for the establishment of three new government programs: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit.
Statement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- The Prime Minister did not hold a press conference on COVID-19 today. Yesterday evening, the Prime Minister addressed the nation to deliver a warning to Canadians that the second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall could be worse than what the country experienced in the spring and a stark reminder to remain vigilant.
Federal Government Briefings
- The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Minister and Minister of Finance
- The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Diversity Inclusion
- The Hon. Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour
The government tabled Bill C-2, An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19 to begin delivering on the promises made in yesterday's Speech from the Throne. The purpose of Bill C-2 is to support Canadians through the next phase of the economy re-opening through increased access to Employment Insurance (EI) and recovery benefits.
Workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support will be eligible for Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks. This Benefit will be temporary for one year to help Canadians access EI benefits, effective September 27, 2020. These changes will also establish a minimum weekly benefit payment of $500 for all EI recipients, at the same level as the CRB. While the Government prepares for the transition, and to ensure support continues for Canadians whose employment has been impacted by the pandemic, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended by an additional four weeks, providing a new maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.
Workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19 will be eligible to receive the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks. This Benefit supports the Government's commitment to ensure all Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave; and,
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household. This Benefit applies to Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because of closure of schools, day-care or care facilities due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine.
Canadians will be able to apply for the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year up until September 25, 2021.
Bill C-2 also includes proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that federally regulated employees have access to job-protected leave to ensure they can avail themselves of these Benefits.
A Schedule to Bill C-2 lists the appropriations (on a cash basis) the Government is asking Parliament to approve for COVID-19 relief measures from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The measures are grouped in the following categories: protecting the health and safety of Canadians, support for individuals, support for students and recent graduates, support for seniors, support for vulnerable groups, support for businesses and support for sectors.
In response to questions from journalists, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland
confirmed the following:
- The Government will be tabling a fiscal update in the House of Commons this fall, as promised in the Speech from the Throne.
- For the time being, the provinces and territories will not receive additional funding for health care from the federal government, at least not the increase of $28 billion they are seeking in health care transfers. The Government's top priority, from a health care perspective, is fighting COVID-19. The provinces and territories have already received $550 million for health care in the early days of the pandemic and $13 billion more as part of the $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement.
- The Government will soon announce more changes to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
- The Government may need to come back to Parliament with additional requests of money for programs, should the need arise.
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:
"There have been 147,753 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,243 deaths. Due the ongoing increase in daily case counts, the proportion of cumulative cases that are still active versus recovered has shifted, with overall the percentage recovered decreasing and currently at 86%. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate. An average of almost 70,000 people were tested daily last week, with 1.4% of these testing positive. The national daily case count continues to increase, with an average of 1,144 cases reported daily during the past seven days."
Statement of Ontario Premier Doug Ford
At a news conference at Queen's Park, Ontario Premier Doug Ford provided an update on the government's response to COVID-19. Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe, joined the Premier.
Premier Ford announced that the government was providing $1.07 billion to expand testing and contact tracing in addition to investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province's long-term care homes, retirement homes and schools. These investments are part of the province's comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.
Earlier this morning, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe held a news conference to announce the updated COVID-19 testing guidelines. Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Chief of Medical Microbiology at the Public Health Ontario Laboratory Dr. Vanessa Allen, President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson and Ontario Chief Coroner and Executive Lead, COVID-19 Testing Approach Dr. Dirk Huyer, joined Dr. Yaffe.
Beginning today, Ontarians should only seek testing at one of the province's 150 assessment centres if they are:
- Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus;
- A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak; and,
- Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
As of tomorrow, Ontarians not showing symptoms and eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care are eligible for COVID-19 testing at select pharmacies.
Statement of Quebec Ministers
At a news conference in Quebec City, Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé provided an update on the province's response to COVID-19. Quebec's Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda joined Minister Dubé.
Minister Dubé reported that MRC Avignon in the Gaspésie region has moved up from the green to the yellow alert level. The situation in all other regions of Quebec remains unchanged. Minister Dubé also reported that waiting periods for different testing centres are now posted on the quebec.ca website.
Quebec registered 582 new COVID-19 cases today. Minister Dubé warned that public health authorities will likely report higher numbers in coming days.
While most of the new cases are among young adults, Minister Dubé pointed out that young adults can spread the virus to older adults or to children, thus leading to outbreaks in schools. Given that social gatherings are a primary source of community-transmission, Minister Dubé urged people to avoid social gatherings (i.e. family dinners, barbecues, or any events involving members from different households) in coming weeks. He also suggested Quebecers "cancel their Thanksgiving plans so we can have a good Christmas."
Elsewhere in Canada
Yesterday, Alberta Health Services announced 143 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 deaths.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health released an updated public health order regarding public access to businesses, schools and places of worship. The order amends a previous order by permitting indoor children's play centres to open. Amusement parks and nightclubs remain closed to the public.
The Alberta government has created an expert panel to help the province diversify its economy and become a world leader in mineral resource production. The five-member Mineral Advisory Council will assist the government in positioning Alberta as a preferred international producer and supplier of minerals and mineral products. The creation of this panel is part of Alberta's Recovery Plan.
Alberta's government is contributing $2.6 million towards the he YWCA Banff Courtyard project. The project is currently under construction and will provide affordable housing and jobs to Banff-area residents. It is part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced under Alberta's Recovery Plan.
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan made a statement regarding the release of the Alberta COVID-19 Opioid Response Surveillance Report Q2 2020. Associate Minister Luan stated, "From April to June of this year, the province has seen an increase in harms associated with opioid use, with 301 people dying in Alberta as a result of opioid overdose... More than $53 million has been invested by the Government of Alberta to enhance online, phone and in-person mental health and addition recovery supports to make it easier for Albertans to access services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic".
Yesterday, British Columbia's Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and deputy Minister of Health Stephen Brown announced 91 new cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. To date, 62 individuals are hospitalized, 18 of whom are in intensive care. There are 1,376 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 3,368 people under active public health monitoring because of exposure to known cases.
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