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

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Three young Sylvan Lake residents are asking for lights to be added to the walking trail system to make them safer and less scary at night. Photo by @workinonmyfitness72
Young Sylvan Lake residents ask for lights to be added to walking trails

Three young Sylvan Lake residents appeared before Council recently to present their ask

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Town of Sylvan Lake recieves funding to help with COVID-19 related revenue losses

Minister Devin Dreeshen says the funding will help the Town pay staff and provide services

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo by The Associated Press)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read