COVID-19
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The Prime Minister made a number of announcements in his daily media availability today, adding to government announcements from this weekend. Here is a summary of the major points:

    • The Prime Minister sharpened his tone today, suggesting that legal enforcement of physical distancing may have to be implemented if people do not adhere to public health recommendations. This may come in the form of coordinated action from the provinces and/or the invocation of the Emergencies Act.
    • The federal government is launching an advertising campaign providing physical distancing advice and information about the COVID-19 crisis.
    • The Prime Minister announced a $5 billion credit facility for Canadian farmers and producers. They can apply through Farm Credit Canada.
    • The Prime Minister announced $192 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund will go toward vaccine research and production. These funds were awarded to Vancouver-based AbCellera and in Quebec City’s Medicago, as well as the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. Funds are also being made available to the National Research Council of Canada to upgrade its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal to develop, test and scale-up promising vaccine candidates to be ready for industrial production.
    • Dr. Theresa Tam announced that Canada is now part of the global SOLIDARITY “mega-trial” of four promising COVID-19 treatments.
    • Yesterday, the government announced that the House of Commons will reconvene at noon tomorrow to pass the measures announced last week as part of the Economic Response Plan.
    • This weekend, the government announced that it is working with the airlines to help airlift stranded Canadians from Peru, Spain, Morocco, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The Prime Minister thanked the airlines’ staff, pilots, and flight attendants, and committed to support the airlines being hit by this crisis.
    • On Saturday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced measures to ensure the agriculture sector could continue to rely on Temporary Foreign Workers.  The government is working with other countries to grant flight authorizations for these workers. These flights will be chartered by the industry and paid for by the employers. All arriving workers must adhere to the 14 day isolation period, or employers could lose the right to hire foreign workers in the future.

 

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND

 

    • Limits on movement and outdoor activities are likely to be tightened further, as some cities are seeing broad non-compliance with the recommended health measures. We can expect enforcement in the way of fines, closed public spaces and the use of police officers to maintain physical distancing. This will also likely have an impact on the few “non-essential” businesses that have remained open throughout the crisis.
    • The Emergencies Act has far reaching implications for the powers of the federal government. This blog and podcast from McCarthy Tétrault provides a great overview. The Emergencies Act would be invoked if existing federal and provincial powers are insufficient to contain the spread of COVID-19, going beyond the current emergency measures in place by province and territory.
    • Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam announced that over 100,000 Canadians have been tested for COVID-19. This means that Canada has among the highest COVID-19 testing capacity of any country on earth. With this increased rate of testing, the number of confirmed cases may jump in the coming days.
    • Significant job losses and a large decline in GDP are expected for this quarter and the next. However, the recession will not be felt evenly. Certain types of software, online retail, grocers, and health services are showing signs of growth, while sectors like travel and hospitality are all but shut down for the time being. Once the economic impacts are better understood, expect additional government stimulus on top of what has already been announced.
    • Our advice to you remains the same as last week:
      • How can you help? If your organization can help fight the virus, let us know. We can connect you with the right government officials at the provincial and federal levels.
      • Aid for workers & businesses is on the way. If you need help figuring out how to access government assistance, let us know.
      • Keep government informed of how the crisis is impacting your organization. If you face logistical challenges that impact your ability to provide essential services, or if you will require greater financial support to weather the storm, government needs to hear from you.
      • Plan for the medium term.  This crisis will last for months, not weeks. We can help your organization to plan for the next stage of the pandemic.