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May 16, 2020 – Federal government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

In the exceptional circumstances of the current health state of emergency, here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

First clinical trial of a vaccine
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Health Canada has approved a first clinical trial for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus conducted by researchers at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia.

“This is very encouraging news,” said Mr. Trudeau.

$100 M for the Red Cross
Mr. Trudeau unveiled funding of up to $100 M to support the Red Cross during the pandemic. The prime minister explained that this organization is offering assistance during the current crisis, but must also prepare to respond to other crises, such as floods and forest fires.

Support for airlines
The prime minister stated that the situation is “extremely difficult” for airlines, but assured that the government will do everything it can to support them.

This morning, Air Canada announced that it was laying off 20,000 employees despite the wage subsidy and credit programs offered to businesses by the federal government in the context of the crisis.

“We have put in place additional credit for large employers. We will see if it’s possible to offer them more liquidity during this difficult time,” said Mr. Trudeau.

The prime minister did not comment on the possibility of nationalizing Air Canada, which was formerly a Crown corporation.

Assistance fund for businesswomen
Stating that businesswomen are more seriously affected by the pandemic because they often head businesses that are smaller and concentrated in sectors that have been hit harder by the pandemic, such has hotels, restaurants and retail sales, the prime minister announced the creation of a $15-M assistance fund for women entrepreneurs.

Support for cities
The prime minister stated that all of the premiers across Canada agree that assistance must be provided to the cities that are facing major financial difficulty due to the pandemic.

Mr. Trudeau highlighted that cities offer an enormous number of services to citizens and fall under provincial jurisdiction. He stated that he and the premiers agreed, during their most recent meeting on Thursday, to ensure assistance for cities.

“The federal government will be there as a partner to support cities,” stated Mr. Trudeau.