May 9, 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.
“Very concerned” about the gradual easing of isolation measures
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “very concerned” about the citizens of Montréal, as well as Canadians across the country, as certain regions move toward easing isolation measures and gradually resuming economic and school activities.
As the MP for the Montréal riding of Papineau, Mr. Trudeau was responding to the predictions of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec that, in June, there will be an average of 150 deaths a day in the Greater Montréal area if isolation is relaxed in the current epidemiological context.
“We must base ourselves on science (when easing isolation measures) and be sure that what we are doing takes into account the absolute priority of ensuring the safety of citizens and our elders. Yes, we need to talk about gradually and progressively restarting the economy, but this must be done while keeping people safe, first and foremost,” he said.
Still in the emergency health phase
The prime minister stated that now is not the time to be reopening the economy because the pandemic is still too present across the country.
“We’re still in the emergency phase and people need to be receiving the assistance necessary to protect themselves, stay home and continue to practise social distancing. As we gradually start reopening the economy, many will have to continue to stay home,” said Mr. Trudeau.
This is vital in order to avoid lifting isolation measures too quickly and triggering a second wave of outbreaks that would require the population to return to isolation.
Guaranteeing food quality
While sanitation rules have been tightened in meat processing plants, Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that it is extremely important to ensure the safety of the supply chain and the food distributed in the country.
Even though there is a simultaneous shortage of meat for consumers, such as beef and pork, and an increase in the price of food, Mr. Trudeau warned that government agencies will monitor breeders, producers, processors and distributors to ensure they are not taking advantage of the crisis to increase their prices.
Mr. Trudeau reiterated that the government has offered significant financial support to the food industry since the beginning of the pandemic. “And we will continue to do so,” he said.
The prime minister repeated that his government as well as the provincial and territorial governments have agreed that the reopening of the economy must go hand in hand with ensuring workers’ safety.
“We must ensure that workers have the equipment they need to protect themselves and to prevent the outbreak of a second wave of the coronavirus,” he stated.
Consequently, the government is seeing to both the importation of protective equipment and domestic production by Canadian businesses.
Supply challenges and shortages of certain hygiene and protective products for frontline workers have meant that the distribution of equipment with unilingual instructions has been permitted on an exceptional basis.
The requirement of bilingual labelling in both official languages is not “just a question of respecting Canada’s linguistic duality, but also ensuring the safety of the people who use these products,” said Mr. Trudeau.
The prime minister wished all of the mothers in Canada a happy Mother’s Day and called on their children to express their love through different gestures of affection and appreciation, in keeping with the isolation measures required by the pandemic.