Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Trudeau is expected to have an announcement about his government’s ongoing efforts to protect Canadians and combat the potentially deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau reinstates COVID-19 updates as pandemic’s second wave worsens

Coronavirus is now back, with caseloads spiking dramatically in the four largest provinces

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join Canada’s top public health officers today for their daily update on the worsening COVID-19 health crisis.

Trudeau is expected to have an announcement about his government’s ongoing efforts to protect Canadians and combat the potentially deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

But he’s also expected to start joining chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and her deputy, Howard Njoo, more regularly at their daily briefings — a sign of how serious the second wave of COVID-19 has already become.

During the first wave last spring, Trudeau held daily news conferences outside his home, Rideau Cottage, but those tailed off and finally stopped as the pandemic went into a bit of a lull over the summer.

The coronavirus is now back, with caseloads spiking dramatically in the four largest provinces over the past few weeks.

In a televised address Wednesday, Trudeau warned Canada is “on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” when the country went into a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Trudeau’s government, meanwhile, is reverting to a practice used throughout the pandemic last spring to urgently fast-track emergency aid legislation through Parliament.

The government introduced Thursday legislation aimed at producing a more generous, flexible employment insurance system, along with the creation of three new temporary benefits to help those who’ve lost their jobs or had their hours drastically reduced due to the pandemic.

The new benefits will also apply to those who are forced to take time off work because they are ill, forced to self-isolate or stay home to care for a dependent who is ill or in isolation.

The new regime ensures benefits of $500 a week — the same as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (or CERB), which comes to an end Saturday.

The minority Liberal government had originally proposed payments of only $400 per week but upped the amount Thursday in an apparent bid to ensure NDP support for the throne speech.

The NDP had demanded that no one wind up getting less under the new regime than they were getting through the CERB, as well as a guarantee of paid sick leave.

The government is still negotiating details of the sick leave benefit with New Democrats but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Thursday he was optimistic they could be worked out to his satisfaction.

The next question becomes how quickly the government can get the bill through Parliament. Monday and Tuesday have been set aside for debating the bill in the House of Commons and the government is negotiating behind the scenes with opposition parties to win agreement to pass it swiftly.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said Thursday that the legislation is needed urgently.

Unanimous consent would be required to speed the bill through all legislative stages in a single day — as was done for previous emergency aid bills. But the government could still get it through within a matter of days with the support of at least one of the opposition parties.

NDP support will likely prove crucial, both to getting the bill passed quickly and to the government’s ability to survive the eventual confidence vote on the throne speech.

The Conservatives have already said they’ll vote against the throne speech and the Bloc Quebecois will follow suit if Trudeau doesn’t immediately accede to their demand for a $28-billion infusion into the annual health transfer payment to the provinces.

Without the support of at least one of the main opposition parties, Trudeau’s minority Liberal government will face defeat on the confidence vote, which could plunge the country into an election.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letters to the Editor.
Lessons to be learned from Mountain Equipment Co-Op failure

Board did not recognize its priority to serve members

Crofton was lost in the shuffle on the BC Hydro website. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus, Crofton lost in the shuffle

No mention at first on BC Hydro website during recent power outage

Cartoonist Rob Kernachan digs into the archives.
Kernachan’s cartoon flashback 2000

This one’s from the former Cowichan News Leader

BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson on the campaign trail. (Submitted photo)
BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson clarifies position on climate change

Paterson calls human activity a ‘contributing’ factor and says climate change must be addressed

Property on the Trans Canada Highway beside the Country Maples Campground has been sold and will become a modular home park. (Photo submitted)
Development, business transactions significant for Chemainus

Two highway properties and Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro sold

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Most Read