PM Trudeau warns of COVID-19 emergency benefit ‘scam’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cautioning Canadians to be weary of a “text scam” aimed at exploiting people who are looking to apply for the new emergency aid benefit.

Speaking to the pre-announced billions in revamped emergency benefits for Canadians who are now unemployed, or off work because of the pandemic, Trudeau told people to beware of a text message, and urged Canadians to rely on the information available on the Government of Canada website.

“Alert: The emergency response benefit of Canada relief fund has sent you a deposit,” reads an example of the scam message that then asks the receiver to click a link to claim their money. This is not from the federal government. 

Trudeau said the emergency benefit application portal will launch soon and Canadians will see money in their wallets within 14 days of applying, while other boosts and top-up measures are not expected to flow until May.

The Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for four months for those eligible.

‘Demands a global response’

Trudeau is emphasizing the need for global co-ordination on the COVID-19 pandemic response, after taking part in a video conference call with other leaders of the G20.

“We can only overcome COVID-19 if we take action together as a global community,” Trudeau said during his daily national address from Rideau Cottage on Thursday.

Trudeau said that COVID-19 “demands a global response” and now, more than ever, all nations need to work together on ensuring supplies flow and a vaccine is developed.

Trudeau said that the G20 international leaders spoke about the health and economic response to a rapidly spreading virus that, as several federal officials have stated, knows no borders.

On February 9, Global Affairs Canada announced that, as part of international efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, Canada had, the week prior, sent “approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves to the country,” to assist in China’s response to the outbreak.

Asked to explain why Canada decided to send these supplies abroad, Trudeau stated that the novel coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, and a global response is needed. He said millions more protective items will be ready for Canadian front-line workers in the coming days.

From home Trudeau has been speaking regularly with other world leaders, who are also all grappling with how to respond to, or prepare for an onslaught of COVID-19 cases in their countries.

Returning traveller crackdown

Trudeau also updated Canadians on the latest domestic response efforts, which includes invoking the Quarantine Act to impose a 14-day mandatory self-isolation on travellers returning to Canada.

“Some people have not been taking this seriously,” Trudeau said, citing examples of snowbirds stopping at grocery stores on their return to Canada.

“This kind of conduct is not just disappointing, it’s dangerous,” Trudeau said, emphasizing the serious fines and potential jail time for those who don’t comply.

Trudeau’s self-isolation plans

Trudeau was set to receive the latest modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada on Wednesday on the evolution of the virus and he vowed to share what he could, saying Canadians “deserve the best information we’ve got about what’s happening today and what tomorrow might bring, because otherwise the uncertainty can be really tough.”

As of Thursday morning there are 3,409 confirmed COVID-19 cases Canada-wide.

Thursday marks the 15th day since Trudeau began self-isolating on account of his wife Sophie demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms and then shortly after being confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Trudeau said that neither he nor his children have demonstrated symptoms but they’ll continue to rely on health official’s advice as to he’ll begin attending cabinet meetings and conducting other work in-person or if he’ll do as he’s asking millions of Canadians to do: stay home.  

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