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July 3, 2020 – Federal and provincial update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian and Québec governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada Student Service Grant

The Canadian government will oversee the management of the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), a $900 million program created to support young people’s involvement in their community during the pandemic. The program provides students with grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 based on the number of hours each volunteer completes in the next four months.

The organization WE Charity withdrew from administering the program this morning following allegations of abuse of power and racism involving over 200 employees, as well as conflicts of interest or appearance of conflicts of interest involving the Prime Minister’s family. Prime Minister Trudeau was previously involved with the organization, and his wife, Sophie Grégoire, hosted podcasts.

Regional flights: an essential service

Québec Premier François Legault is prepared to offer a subsidy to an air carrier for flights to all Québec regions, since he considers this an essential service.

Premier Legault explained that Québec Transport Minister François Bonnardel is in discussions with airline companies, including Air Canada, to reach an agreement.

Air Canada announced this week that it would be ending its air service to certain regions across the country, including eight in Québec.

In light of Air Canada’s decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognized that some economic hubs are more affected than others by the pandemic, including the aviation industry. Like Premier Legault, Prime Minister Trudeau notes that some regional flights, such as Montréal-Quebec City and Montréal-Toronto are profitable.

While touring the Outaouais, Premier Legault bemoaned a shortage of nurses in Gatineau because of competition from Ontario, which offers better wages.

He wants to increase the wage conditions of nurses in this region to eliminate the shortfall.

Double the number of agricultural greenhouses

Premier Legault said that the pandemic raised our awareness of the importance of food autonomy and our dependence on fruit and vegetable supplies from the U.S.

He indicated that Hydro-Québec’s new President and CEO, Sophie Brochu, will be announcing programs next week that could double the number of agricultural greenhouses in Québec.

“We have a surplus of hydroelectric power in Québec,” says Premier Legault, justifying the merits of the coming announcement.

Federal Cabinet virtual retreat

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he will be reuniting the virtual Cabinet for two days next week to determine the federal government’s actions with regard to maintaining the economic recovery and preparing the country for a possible second wave of COVID-19.

During this period of uncertainty, the Canadian government’s priority is to build a better, more unified and more resilient country for everyone, where all Canadians have an equal chance for success, said the Prime Minister. All these measures must be carried out in cooperation with the country’s provinces, territories, businesses and citizens.