- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an address from Rideau Cottage, noting today applications opened for CERB and that 240,000 people had applied already.
- Trudeau also highlighted that the government plans to expand eligibility for CERB to include part-time workers who have gone through a loss of hours, students, gig economy workers, and others in the $2,000 per month flat rate benefit.
- The Prime Minister reiterated the government plans to reconvene Parliament to pass legislation necessary for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy implementation. He indicated the government is also working on a plan to hold virtual sitting of the House and Senate.
- He lauded certain banks and credit unions for reducing interest rates on credit accounts by almost a half, asking for more similar action by other financial institutions.
- Trudeau said the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network and explained it would be helpful for Canadian businesses doing all they can to get through these trying times.
- In response to questions, The Prime Minister said he would stay at his residence as much as possible as his self-isolation period is coming to an end. He said social distancing measures are expected to last for “many weeks” or a “few months.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained CERB opened for applications today, saying 240,000 people have already successfully applied and that the government is suggesting people apply according to their birth month. He said there are some who don’t qualify who still deserve help and that the government would expand access to CERB soon for gig workers, freelancers, those who have had hours reduced to below 10 hours per week, and others.
Trudeau explained the government is talking to other parties on the development of legislation for wage subsidy implementation. He said he would reconvene Parliament soon to pass that legislation.
He lauded banks and certain credit unions for reducing interest rates on credit accounts by almost a half, saying Canada needs to see more action like this going forward.
He said the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network and explained it would help for Canadian businesses to get through the crisis.
Question: said Premier Doug Ford noted Ontario could run out of PPE within a week, asking if that is so and if a shipment of PPE from the U.S. was rerouted to another destination.
Trudeau: responded that the government has reiterated that the flow of healthcare supplies and workers across the border should be a two way street and that, based on a conversation between Champagne and Pompeo this morning, the government believes the shipment for Ontario will be received.
Question: wondered how the government is upholding quarantine orders for returning travelers.
Trudeau: replied that the government is following up with returning travelers to ensure they are safe and abiding by the quarantine order. He said the Quarantine Act was used to levy mandatory quarantines in certain cases, like for returning travelers from Wuhan.
Question: asked when the Prime Minister will return to the office following quarantine.
Trudeau: responded that the government is asking everybody to stay home when they can and that he could go to the office in the days or weeks coming, but would stay home as much as possible.
Question: wondered how long the public should expect to abide by social distancing.
Trudeau: answered that the public should expect to continue with isolation for up to many weeks or a few months.
Question: noted that the minority government is now hardly required to be accountable to Parliament, wondering how this impacts our democratic institutions and if the government will be able to run sittings of the House during social distancing.
Trudeau: replied that the government is concerned with democratic accountability, noting that’s why the government is bringing back Parliament to pass wage subsidy legislation. He explained that the government is working to figure out how to run virtual sittings of the House.
Question: asked how the government intends to amend CERB to make it available for more Canadians and if changes would be retroactive.
Trudeau: responded that the government will expand the benefit and will announce more in the days coming.
Question: asked if the U.S. blocked a shipment of masks to Ontario and wondered what the government would do if the shipment doesn’t arrive. He wondered if the Prime Minister supports the plan to clean used masks.
Trudeau: responded that the government wants to keep essential goods and services flowing in both directions over the border. He said he trusts the planned shipments will come. He responded that Dr. Tam would speak up on the plan to clean used masks in the next hour.
Question: wondered why Canada isn’t testing on a larger scale. He asked when provinces can expect deliveries of testing kits.
Trudeau: replied that testing capacity in Canada continues to increase everyday, explaining that screening tests are an essential part of the government’s plan to get Canada through the COVID-19 crisis. He answered that Canada is procuring testing kits from around the world and is helping to manage distribution inside the country.
Question: asked about cross-border workers.
Trudeau: answered that premiers and mayors are facing tough decisions on how to keep their people safe, saying it’s important to keep Canadians safe but that Canada also wants to contribute toward the global response.
Question: wondered about delayed shipments of PPE.
Trudeau: replied the government has had a number of issues with global shipments not having exactly what was ordered or being delayed or diverted. He highlighted that Canada would continue to work to ensure that Canadians get all that they need.