Canadians must continue to stay united and fight for each other in order to defeat the deadly coronavirus.
That was the message from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his address to the House of Commons on Saturday, April 11.
“As Canada confronts this crisis, we are all called to serve to fight for and alongside each of our fellow citizens; to fight for someone’s mothers, for someone’s grandfather, for someone’s neighbour,” Trudeau said. “Our job as Canadians is to uphold the dignity and sanctity of every single human life, whether they be rich or poor, young or old, ailing or healthy, that is our duty.”
The remarks came as federal politicians gather at the House of Commons on Saturday to pass legislation that will provide financial assistance to businesses in the form of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
Trudeau’s address touched on the efforts made by Canadians during the First and Second World Wars. He said the coronavirus is a different enemy than those of the past and while it isn’t war, it doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
“There is no front line marked with barbed wire, no soldiers to be deployed across the ocean. No enemy combatants to defeat. Instead, the front line is everywhere,” Trudeau said. “In our homes, in our hospitals and care centres, in our grocery stores and pharmacies, at our truck stops and gas stations and the people who work in these places are our modern day heroes.”
Earlier in the day, federal ministers along with Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, provided an update on the coronavirus situation in the country.
Dr. Tam said the total number of COVID-19 cases is now at 22,559 cases and that there have been more than 400,000 people tested nationwide for the coronavirus. She said there have also been 600 deaths in Canada.
“Many of the deaths that have occurred in Canada have been linked to long-term care homes,” she said.
Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister, said the federal government is working with the provinces in drafting national care guidelines for long-term care facilities.
“The situation in long-term care homes is very very concerning and it is maybe particularly concerning in this holiday weekend when a lot of us can’t see our parents or grandparents who are in long-term care homes. Although it is really really hard, it is essential for non-essential people not to enter those long-term care homes. That is a real danger to the people that we love who live there,” she said.
Freeland said British Columbia had shown leadership by banning people from working in more than one long term care home at a time.
Finance minister Bill Morneau provided information about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which will also provide $847 per employee for up to 12 weeks.
“This support should help employers to keep their employees, and in many cases, rehire them,” Morneau said.
Businesses, non-profits and charities with a 15 per cent drop in revenue in March will be eligible and businesses that can show a 30 per cent drop in revenue for the month April or May will also be eligible, said Morneau.
“Businesses can do this by comparing their revenues to the same month last year or the average revenues of January and February of this year,” he said. “Non-profits and charities will have the option of whether or not to include government contributions when making their calculations.”
Money is expected to be available within two to five weeks.