Wednesday March 11, 2020 ~ NATIONAL
by Mary Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News
The Canadian government is launching a $1-billion response fund to fuel the domestic and global fight to contain COVID-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the support package in a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, saying the federal funding aims to help provincial health-care systems cope with the increasing number of new coronavirus cases and to help Canadian workers who are forced to isolate themselves.
To help with economic impacts on people who need to stay home from work, the one-week waiting period on applying for Employment Insurance has been waived. There is also a provision that will allow businesses to apply for ‘easy credit’ to bridge any challenging times due to the budget.
“The reality is that the number of people affected by the virus around the globe keeps climbing,” Trudeau said but added that “Canada has been fortunate so far”. In that context, the Prime Minister said: “We’re pulling out all the stops to make sure Canadians are safe and protected.”
The plan includes $500 million for the provinces and territories (who earlier this week were asked to prepare their ‘wish lists’), including money for things like buying medical gear such as face masks and respirators. There is also funding for public education, surveillance and monitoring, and access to testing.
Another $275 million will go to medical research, including funding for a finding a vaccine and launching clinical trials. That’s in addition to $27 million in research funding that was announced earlier in the week.
There will be adjustments to the rules in the Service Canada work-sharing program to help companies deal with employees who must stay home as part of social distancing or self-isolation due to spread of the virus.
There will also be $50 million in international aid to help other countries fight the spread of the virus, it was announced today.
As of March 11, there have been 101 confirmed cases of the illness in Canada (39 of those in BC, that’s prior to the 3:30 pm update of March 11).
Earlier today, with over 118,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 114 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic, in a statement televised from their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time,” the WHO Director-General said.
Controlling the virus is possible because its means of transmission is relatively well understood (in moist droplets through coughs/sneezes up to 2-metre distance, and by picking it up off surfaces then touching one’s face).
WHO declares COVID-19 pandemic (March 11, 2020)
BC announces seven new cases of COVID-19 for total of 39 (March 10, 2020)
Pandemic Plan is in place in BC, says Premier (article about 2-hour BC Health media announcement on March 6, 2020)
COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and planning materials: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/pandemic-influenza.
Recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
For more information and latest updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit http://www.bccdc.ca/