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May 26, 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.

Improving the situation of our seniors

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pleaded for the entire country to conduct a review of how seniors are treated.

“We must do a better job of looking after those who built our country,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau made this commitment, stating he was particularly disturbed by a report written by soldiers on abuse and maltreatment in seniors’ residences where they intervened in Ontario.

“I was sad, I was shocked, I was disappointed, I was angry. I think we’re seeing a situation that is, of course, currently related to COVID-19, but that has been there for a long time,” he said.

The Ontario and Québec governments have asked that assistance from the military in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) be prolonged, which Mr. Trudeau has authorized. To date, 36 of the soldiers deployed have been infected by COVID-19.

700 jobs in the agricultural sector

The prime minister announced the creation of 700 jobs for youth in the agricultural sector due to the pandemic and the shortage of agricultural labour.

The program comes with a $9.2-M budget. Farmers can hire youth between the ages of 15 and 30 and receive 50% compensation for hiring costs, up to a maximum of $14,000.

Preparing for a second wave

The prime minister has put in place several measures to ensure the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment and respirators in preparation for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 contagion this fall.

“We have to prepare the country. With the reopening of the economy, we’ll need more personal protective equipment, especially if there’s a second wave,” Mr. Trudeau said. He stated that Canadians expect the country to be ready for this eventuality.

The government has signed an agreement with General Motors to produce 10 millions masks in Oshawa, Ontario. The production of 10,000 respirators has also been authorized.

From refugees to landed immigrants

As his Québec counterpart did yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau said that he is open to the idea that refugees asking for asylum have their status changed to a formal immigration request. This is a new condition for all those who have been working in CHSLDs for the last two months.

“It’s an exceptional measure in exceptional times,” said Mr. Trudeau.

Serological tests

Prime Minister Trudeau intends to have a serological test as soon as possible to determine if he has developed antibodies to COVID-19, since his wife, Sophie Grégoire, was infected at the start of the pandemic and they were placed together in quarantine.

“It’s important to understand the degree to which it has spread among the population, including among those who showed no symptoms, which might include me,” said Mr. Trudeau.