Trudeau to update on COVID-19 as border restricted, MPs prepare to pass aid package

OTTAWA —
A week into his self-isolation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will once again be addressing Canadians on the latest developments with the COVID-19 pandemic and Canada’s response.

After delivering major news on two fronts on Wednesday — the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel and an $82-billion two-pronged financial package — Trudeau could shed more light on when these policy actions will come into force.

With the number of confirmed Canadian cases continuing to rise, and citizens slowly adjusting to the reality of necessary self-isolation and social distancing, there is pressure to see the promised financial assistance reach Canadians’ wallets as quickly as possible, to allow people to continue to heed public health advice without fear of being unable to make ends meet. 

While some assistance is coming through pre-existing programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Child Benefit, the government needs to pass legislation to fully enact the suite of financial top-ups, tax deferrals and loans they have readied to help Canadians and stimulate the economy badly hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak.  

It’s possible the prime minister will have more to say today about the timing of Parliament’s return to pass those measures, with the opposition parties making it clear that they are on board. Both the House and Senate suspended last week in an effort to combat the spread of the virus on Parliament Hill.

Plans are being set for the minimum number of politicians—ideally those with the shortest distance to travel—to reconvene in Ottawa early next week.

Trudeau could also come out of his residence at Rideau Cottage with news about the precise timing of the Canada-U.S. border closing to tourists and non-essential visitors. As of when governments on both sides announced the restrictions, talks were still underway about the details, given the need for commerce and trade to not be interrupted by the shutdown across the longest undefended border in the world. 

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is chairing a meeting of the special cabinet committee focused on the federal response to COVID-19 on Thursday morning, and will then join her colleagues and health officials for another noon update on the virus.

As of Thursday morning there are 727 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada. 

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