As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread around the world, the Canadian government announced Wednesday that it has established a $1 billion response fund to combat the virus.
“Canada has been fortunate so far…but I know that people across the country are worried,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference.
This includes $200 million to support the ongoing federal response to COVID-19, including surgical masks, face shields and public education efforts. In addition to $275 million for Canadian research, vaccine development and clinical trials.
“We had a volume of calls...that were also excellent proposals,” Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health said on Wednesday.
She added that this additional funding will help to “quickly generate” the research needed to respond to the virus outbreak, enabling Canada to further contribute to the global network research currently being conducted.
The government has also waived the mandatory one-week waiting period for insurance to kick in for individuals who have to be placed in isolation.
“No one should have to worry about their job if they have to be quarantined,” Trudeau said.
The $1 billion fund will be spent on the following items:
$500 million to support for provinces and territories
$275 million on research
$150 million to boost the public health response, including funding for Indigenous Services Canada
$50 million on sustained communications and public education
$50 million on personal protective equipment
$50 million on foreign aid
$12 million to boost Canada’s work-sharing program
$7 million on repatriation of Canadians
$5 million on employment Insurance sickness benefits
$2 million to support for the World Health Organization (WHO)
Canada impacted by COVID-19
There are more than 90 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus across Canada and one death. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) maintains that the public health risk in the country remains low for the general population, but the agency is reminding people that the situation in Canada “could change rapidly.”
The government is currently advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Italy, China and Iran.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, recommended on Monday that Canadians “avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19,” as the virus can spread rapidly in those conditions.
According to an online survey of 1,512 Canadians from the Angus Reid Institute, conducted from Mar. 5 to Mar. 6, 42 per cent of Canadians say they see the threat of COVID-19 as “real and serious.” The majority of respondents, 52 per cent, have confidence in their own community healthcare system’s ability to deal with new cases of COVID-19. But this is a slight drop from the 63 per cent who said the same a month earlier.
The survey also found that 49 per cent of respondents believe the federal government is doing a good job of handling the outbreak, with the most support coming from people in B.C., Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Alberta is the only province where more respondents, 45 per cent, said the federal government is doing a bad job of handling the COVID-19 situation.
Following Trudeau’s press conference on Wednesday, Canadians took to social media to share their thoughts on the government’s response to the novel coronavirus.
Canada has just announced how it will be dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.— Ryan Latchkey (@RyanLatchkey) March 11, 2020
Thank you Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Government for being on top of this.
Canadians, let's put aside our political differences and get through this upcoming crisis.https://t.co/wni6yVxPJx
Trudeau's response to #coronavirus shows he has no clue how badly the economy is about to be hit. Quick access to EI? Cool. What about the SME companies that are about to be hit with a massive revenue drop and resulting layoffs? What about self employed? No EI for them. #cdnpoli— Conservative Hippie (@bfgcracka) March 11, 2020
This is a time to pull together as Canadians. Prime Minister Trudeau just spoke about the Coronavirus and the steps our Canadian government is taking. I'm extremely proud to be a Canadian citizen.— Judith Mitchell/Bare (@jooboobares) March 11, 2020
What do you think of Canada’s response to COVID-19 so far? Vote in the poll above and leave your thoughts in the comments below.