November 13, 2020 – Federal and provincial government 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.
The second wave is growing
Far from stabilizing, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been growing in Canada over the last few days, except in the Maritimes. This has prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the director of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, to call on Canadians to “urgently” reduce their social contacts to a minimum and to respect health guidelines in order to contain it.
The increase in cases of infection, hospitalizations, patients in intensive care and deaths points to a trend which, if not reversed, could result in over 10,000 new cases a day in Canada by early December, explained Dr. Tam. This is more than twice the number of current cases (4,300).
“The situation is serious,” said Dr. Tam. “Hospitals are being forced to cancel surgeries and interventions, and health workers everywhere in the country are burned out.”
Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the current situation must serve as a wake-up call so that each and every person does their part to save lives. “The current increase is serious. We may have to make some difficult choices in terms of helping one region as opposed to another, if the pandemic continues to spread,” said Mr. Trudeau.
The Red Cross extends its mission
As the pandemic worsens, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Red Cross will extend its mission in Québec’s residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) until January 15, 2021.
Meeting among the premiers
Québec Premier François Legault, also the Chair of the Council of the Federation that brings together the provincial and territorial premiers, confirmed that a meeting of all of the leaders with Prime Minister Trudeau will take place early in December to discuss federal health transfers.
The premiers are asking Prime Minister Trudeau to raise the national contribution to provincial and territorial budgets from 22% to 35%, on a recurring basis. Health budgets take up about half of the provinces’ funds and increase annual inflation rates two- or threefold. The federal government has already assumed 50% of health transfers.
Support for job training
Premier Trudeau announced an additional $1.5 G in transfers to the provinces in order to provide training to Canadians who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. For Québec, this means another $303 M.
This investment is in addition to the $3.4 G already earmarked for this purpose since the beginning of the pandemic in an effort to support the hardest hit workers, including those in the restaurant and hotel industry and tourism, so that they can re-enter the job market.
The programs will focus on professional training, on-the-job training as well as financial assistance and professional orientation services.