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October 9, 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.

Pandemic accelerating in Canada

As the pandemic accelerates in Canada, according Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, hopes to be able to avoid nation-wide self-isolation by adopting targeted measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Accompanied by four ministers and officers from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Tam and her assistant, Dr. Howard Njoo, Prime Minister Trudeau admitted that the acceleration of the pandemic across the country is putting enormous pressure on healthcare systems.

The leader of the Canadian government urged Canadians to reduce social contact, maintain physical distancing, wear a mask, wash their hands and download the COVID Alert mobile app to stop the contagion’s trend and prevent a nation-wide self-isolation measure.

He hopes that these sacrifices will perhaps allow families to get together this Christmas.

Stay home

Like his federal counterpart, Québec Premier François Legault stressed again today, as he has done over the last week, that Quebecers should stay home over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

“Stay within your family bubble, stay with the people who live with you,” he urged, while stressing that the battle against the pandemic is mathematical. “If we want to reduce the number of cases, we have to reduce the number of social contacts.”

Like Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Legault hopes that the three-day weekend will make a difference in curbing the progression of the contagion.

Three good reasons to make sacrifices now

Premier Legault gave “three good reasons” for sacrificing gatherings of friends and families over the weekend and in the coming weeks.

He urged Quebecers to think about vulnerable people who are at greater risk of developing fatal complications from COVID-19. He also asked the population to think about children who must not be prevented from going to school for months on end, so that they can continue to learn and socialize. Lastly, he told Quebecers to think about their own health. “If you get sick, even if it’s not from COVID-19, you may have a hard time getting the care you need.”

Additional financial support

Now that the second wave of the pandemic has reached a peak that is higher than the one during the first wave, Prime Minister Trudeau warned that its impact will be “even more difficult on businesses that will be affected.”

The government has once again increased its financial assistance programs. The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has been extended until June 2021. Assistance could reach 65% of rents and mortgages fees for businesses forced to reduce their activities, and could be as high as 90% for those that must completely abandon their operations due to the pandemic. This measure could represent a cost of $2.2 billion for the federal treasury.

Mr. Trudeau also announced that the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which offers loans of $40,000, has been increased by $20,000. This increase could cost up to $11 billion in public funds.

The wage subsidy program has also been extended until next summer and additional assistance of $100 million is planned for food banks.

Parliament must adopt a bill to approve these programs.