There is a lot of news to keep on top of, so we will try to make this brief. We want to update everyone on what is happening in Ottawa right now.

What we have learned:

  • All federal parties have agreed to suspend Parliament until at least April 20, 2020.
  • The federal budget, initially planned for March 30th is now delayed. A new date has not been set.
  • Parliament (both the House and Senate) have passed the new NAFTA bill today on an expedited basis.
  • Finance Minister Morneau is expected at 2PM to announce a short-term fiscal package intended to stabilize the Canadian economy.
  • Procedures are in place to rapidly reconvene Parliament – possibly with a smaller number of representatives from each party – in order to deal with any emergency funding bills or measures that need to be passed before April 20.  We believe that new legislation is being passed today in both the House and Senate on an expedited basis to enable this – details are not yet not available.
  • The Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire has been diagnosed with COVID-19 with mild symptoms. As such, the PM is in home quarantine for the time being. He does not have symptoms.
  • The Prime Minister is planning to address the country today. He is expected to ask Canadians to cease any discretionary travel outside of the country.
  • As of now, the Government of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency are not expected to close borders or restrict movement by law.
  • The Government of Canada is initiating a variety of procedures internally to protect continuity of government. These measures will mirror much of what the corporate world is doing with restrictions on travel by employees, remote working and other social distancing procedures.
  • Each federal department has its own continuity of government plan, but these are being coordinated across government at the Deputy Minister level.
  • Most departments will be restricting access to visitors to their facilities for the time being. Any planned face-to-face meetings will likely be moved to phone or video.

What to keep in mind:

  • Government departments will continue to operate. The government is not shutting down.
  • The transition to these new “social distancing” procedures will take time to adjust from an administrative standpoint, so expect short term disruptions in the normal operations of government.
  • Given the behaviour of capital markets, the government is assuming that we are headed for a recession.
  • A major, perhaps unprecedented series of stimulus measures are coming. These are likely to roll out over time. We will send you more information about this as it comes into clearer focus.

As always do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or require support.