February 19, 2021 – Federal government update on the COVID-19 pandemic
Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three Canadian assistance programs extended
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension of three assistance programs, despite the fact that the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is on a downward trend across the country, because of the serious risks posed by the arrival of the third wave of the pandemic and the growing concern to health experts.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will be available for an additional 12 weeks, while access to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will increase from two to four weeks.
Mr. Trudeau stated that this decision was made because the role of the Canadian government is to support the population during this crisis. “If you need support while you’re looking for a job or need to stay home to look after your family, these benefits will continue to be available to you,” said the prime minister.
The same applies to paid sick leaves in order to prevent people who are infected from having to go work in order to feed their families and pay their rent rather than self-isolate. “At this time, no one should have to return to work when they are sick. It’s as simple as that,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Extending these three programs will cost an estimated $12.1 billion.
Perseverance for several more weeks
Prime Minister Trudeau called on Canadians to persevere in following the health guidelines even though the severity of the pandemic is decreasing. He pointed to the appearance of the new variants, which require even greater caution.
According to the most pessimistic projections regarding the third wave, there could be 20,000 cases per day with the new variants, the worst scenario since the onset of the pandemic.
Justin Trudeau warned Canadians that failure to exercise caution means that “the third wave will be harder than the second wave which was harder than the first.”
The G7 leaders and the pandemic
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in a virtual meeting of the G7 leaders on the impacts of the pandemic on the health of the population and the economic well being of Canada and the entire world.
For the last year, Canada has committed to contributing more than $2 billion by participating, in particular, in supporting the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop and provide screening tests, treatments and vaccines to the entire world.
Mr. Trudeau also stated that Canada’s contribution is among the highest of the wealthy countries contributing to the COVAX Facility program for the safe and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to support 92 low- and middle-income countries.
The G7 is an informal group of seven economies from the developed world, namely, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.