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December 4, 2020 – 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.

Financial assistance to businesses expanded

As the pandemic worsens around the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that financial assistance to businesses through federally back bank loans will be expanded. Another $20,000 has been added to the $40,000 already granted to businesses eligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

An additional $10,000 will be forgivable if the loans are repaid on time. The CEBA loan has therefore increased from $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgivable if the loan is repaid on time.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, 800,000 Canadian businesses have benefitted from this assistance,” said the prime minister.

Some 62,000 jobs were created in November and 2.4 million people have returned to the job market after having lost their jobs in the spring due to the pandemic.

$1 billion for long-term care centres

Mr. Trudeau also announced the creation of a $1-billion fund to help improve the living conditions of seniors in long-term care centres in Canada. Funds will be used for prevention, hiring staff and new ventilation systems.

Some $1.8 million will be allocated to 12 research teams that will examine existing living conditions and care with a view to making recommendations to better protect seniors.

Safe vaccination

Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that the government’s priority is to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines will be safe and effective so that they can then be approved, distributed and administered to Canadians.

Meanwhile, members of the Canadian Armed Forces as well as Health Canada officials are conducting logistics exercises “to ensure that as soon as Health Canada has proven that the vaccines are safe, they can be delivered,” said Mr. Trudeau.

The Canadian government is committed to making sure that Canadians receive their vaccinations as quickly as possible. “When the vaccines arrive, we’ll be ready,” said the prime minister.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam explained that the first doses of the vaccine will be reserved for residents and staff in long-term care centres, people aged 70 and over, healthcare workers and adults living in Indigenous communities.

This order of priority was determined by the experts on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.