MPs to discuss suspending Parliament in COVID-19 fight

MPs to discuss suspending Parliament in COVID-19 fight

OTTAWA — Parliamentarians will consider today whether to take the unprecedented move of suspending Parliament because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the House of Commons administration committee could not agree Thursday on what measures to take to address the outbreak even as the Ontario government shuttered schools, sports leagues suspended seasons, and public gatherings were restricted or cancelled all across the country.

The Commons is sitting today before a planned one-week break, but discussions are underway about whether that break should be extended.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in two weeks of self-isolation after his wife Sophie tested positive for COVID-19, which would keep him out of the House for several days after its scheduled return.

Two other cabinet ministers remain isolated with flu and cold-like symptoms and are also awaiting test results for the virus.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, however, insisted the federal budget will be tabled on March 30 as planned.

Senators were asked to remain in Ottawa Thursday night after having broken for a week earlier in the day. The Senate announced late Thursday that it would sit today, creating an opportunity to deal with measures that would keep the federal government funded and functioning if Parliament doesn’t sit for an extended period.

Preventing the spread of the of the novel coronavirus has become Job 1 for public-health experts, who are trying to prevent the kind of tragic outcomes being seen in Italy and other parts of Europe.

Parliament did step up efforts to disinfect its buildings Thursday, including additional cleanings of things like elevator buttons and handrails.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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