January 5, 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.
No money for travellers returning from the South
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the $1,000 Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) for two weeks of quarantine was put in place for people who are unable to work because of COVID-19, and will not be available to those who vacationed in the South during the Holidays.
“My message to those who travelled South is clear: you will not be eligible for this benefit. It was not put in place for you.” The prime minister explained that this measure was never intended for those who decide to travel, against Public Health’s recommendations.
Mr. Trudeau reiterated what the government has been hammering home since March, which is to refrain from traveling abroad.
Canada is imposing a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone returning from abroad. Those who fail to comply could face severe fines and even imprisonment.
The CRSB can be claimed once and is available to those who do not, among other things, receive paid leave from their employer if they have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19 and who earned at least $5,000 during the year.
Accelerating the vaccination
The federal leader expressed his “impatience” with the slowness to the rollout of the vaccination across the country and plans to discuss this with the premiers on Thursday during their weekly teleconference.
“Vaccine doses should not be sitting in freezers: they should be administered,” said Mr. Trudeau.
He still believes it is possible “for all Canadians to be vaccinated before next September.” While the provinces and territories are responsible for the immunization campaign against COVID-19, it is bankrolled by the federal government.
Stricter health rules
The prime minister said he is optimistic for 2021 despite the current infection rates, which are surging in several regions of the country.
“This year will be better than 2020, I promise you, but it won’t be easy,” said Mr. Trudeau.
That said, the prime minister acknowledged that several provinces are preparing to tighten their health rules, including returning to lockdown and even imposing a curfew, an option Québec is currently examining.
Mr. Trudeau stated that the challenges vary from place to place across the country, but that he does not plan to impose national emergency measures, preferring to leave it up to the provincial leaders to decide on the health measures appropriate for their region.