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June 29, 2020 – Federal and provincial government updates 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.

Assistance for commercial rents extended

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, which was slated to end tomorrow.

While he announced the intention to extend it, Mr. Trudeau stated that the federal government must reach a consensus with the provinces and territories. “We’ll be working on this during the week,” said the prime minister.

This assistance program provides loan subsidies to commercial-building owners in order to reduce the rents of businesses affected by COVID-19 by 75%. The federal government shares 50% of rents with the provinces. In Québec, the government pays an additional 12.5%. Owners must cover the rest.

Québec studying the possibility of mandatory mask use on public transit

The director of Québec’s Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, indicated that making masks mandatory on public transit is a measure that is being “closely examined at the moment.” The decision may be made and announced tomorrow.

Dr. Arruda again spoke out against the population’s apparent slackening in their respect of health guidelines, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, as necessary measures in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s important to remember that the virus is still here,” he reiterated. The public health specialist stated that he is expecting a second wave.

Personal discipline

Prime Minister Trudeau is very happy that “many Canadians are following the recommendations issued by our public health experts as we lift the isolation measures.”

He reiterated that individual protective measures are extremely important if we want to avoid a resurgence of contagion or in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit still warranted

Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that the monthly $2,000 Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is still warranted for millions of Canadians who are without jobs.

“The economy came to a standstill for several months and is still lagging,” he explained.

Border closed until July 21

With the resurgence of contagion in several southern U.S. states, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that the border will remain closed until July 21, as agreed with the Trump administration.

Mr. Trudeau noted that lessons must be learned from the challenges facing other countries, without dwelling on whether or not the closure of Canada-U.S. border will be extended. “We have to keep taking protective measures if we don’t want to lose all that we’ve gained over the last few months.”

Preparing for a second wave

Justin Trudeau stated that Canada was one of the most effective countries in handling the pandemic among the Group of Seven (G7), a grouping of the world’s most powerful industrialized countries, and that this puts Canada in a favourable position in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.

“We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, because the second wave could hit hard,” said Mr. Trudeau. He assured Canadians that if this happens, authorities are prepared to respond quickly. The government is ensuring the supply and domestic production of personal protective equipment, screening tests, tracing applications, etc.

A vaccine

Although the situation is improving in Canada based on the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Mr. Trudeau stressed that the day a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, the problem will not be having to ask people to get vaccinated, but rather having enough doses to go around.

“The challenge will be to produce enough for us here in Canada, and for the most vulnerable countries,” he said.