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Health

Justin Trudeau Announces $1 Billion Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund


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This article has been updated to include updated information on current cases in Canada, as well as Friday's statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of a $1.1 billion package to fund the response to the COVID-19 coronavirus during a press conference on Wednesday.

The funding will help health care systems in each province manage the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The package includes $275 million for medical research and vaccine development and $500 for health transfers to provinces and territories.

Another $50 million will go toward aiding the global fight to contain the disease. Investing in global efforts that work to secure health systems for all is the best way to contain and treat outbreaks around the world.

The plan will also waive the one-week waiting period to apply for insurance and alter the rules of the work-share program, which is designed to help employees avoid layoffs. 

The government is still trying to determine how to potentially support workers without employment insurance, which provides temporary financial assistance to those who have recently lost their jobs.

While confirmed cases of community transmission of the coronavirus have been low, the illness continues to spread. There were 138 confirmed cases in Canada as of Thursday. So far, only one person in the country has died.

Among those diagnosed is Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus on Thursday. She will remain in isolation, accoridng to a statement from Trudeau's office

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The prime minister spoke outside of Rideau Cottage on Friday to provide an update, following his wife's diagnosis.

He advised that Canadians should curtail all non-essential international travel and said that there will be additional screening measures put into place at airports. They are also looking reduce the number of airports that will accept flights from overseas.

To keep Canadians safe and to mitigate economic impacts, all levels of government are working together as a team, Trudeau said.

A fiscal stimulus package will be announced in coming days to make sure Canadians are able to cope with the financial issues that will arise as a result of the pandemic, the prime minister announced.

"We are looking at ways to help Canadians directly, particularly vulnerable Canadians, who will be particularly squeezed if they aren’t able to go to work," he said.

The prime minister said that the focus is on ensuring Canadians have the resources and the money they need to not be stressed about paying rent, buying groceries, and accessing child and elder care.

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Earlier this week, Trudeau said that containing the spread of the virus will rely on individual and collective behaviour, noting that there have been so few cases in Canada so far due to the country having "appropriate measures" in place — handwashing, social distancing, and working from home when sick. 

As the coronavirus outbreak in Canada evolves, preparedness at all stages will be crucial to containing the spread of the disease.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that Canada is ready for all scenarios and we take that responsibility extremely seriously," Trudeau said.