OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers will open for a second day to plot the country’s way through – and eventually beyond – the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talks about setting a bold new post-pandemic course for Canada in cabinet withdrawal gave way Monday to grim warnings that the pandemic is not over and that the country could be in a deadly second wave this fall.
The retreat is being held in Ottawa as positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country following a calm over the summer.
Ministers are supposed to focus in part on the throne speech scheduled for September 23rd.
When Trudeau announced last month that he was advancing Parliament, he said he would return with a speech on the throne that would set a bold new agenda to rebuild a healthier, safer, fairer, more economical economy. green, more inclusive, more competitive.
But as he walked into the opening day of the retreat on Monday, a less vocal Trudeau warned that the country must first go through the pandemic in order to talk about “next steps”.
During the first day, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said ministers discussed various scenarios of how the pandemic could unfold this fall and how they should prepare for the worst.
“One (scenario) would be a slow burn where you see these bumps and peaks and valleys and we work really hard to put out those explosions. But the other scenario could be a very heavy wave of falling and what “We have to be prepared for each of those possible outcomes,” she said.
“There is always the possibility that numbers will increase exponentially … This is a vicious virus. It can easily infiltrate communities, families and we have to take it seriously, we can not give up.”
The throne speech itself is expected to focus more on overcoming the pandemic than on how to rebuild it once it is over.
It is expected to include three key priorities: measures needed to protect the health of Canadians and to avoid another national stalemate; the economic support needed to help keep Canadians financially at sea as the pandemic continues; and long-term measures to eventually rebuild the economy.
In particular, it is expected to promise more funding for health care, including long-term care homes, which have carried the burden of more than 9,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Canada. It is also expected to pledge money for childcare so that parents – especially women, hardest hit by the closure – can return to work.
Details on long-term recovery measures will not be disclosed until an economic statement later in the fall.
Emergency aid to help Canadians cope with the pandemic has already pushed the federal deficit for this year to an unprecedented $ 343 billion. With the government operating on the assumption that the pandemic will continue to plague the globe for at least two more years, unprecedented amounts of red ink seem destined to continue to flow.
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos argued Monday that the government has no solution.
“We must continue to invest in Canada to avoid the transition from a recession to a depression,” he said.
Duclos described the strategy as similar to caring for a cold so that it does not evolve into pneumonia.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 15, 2020.
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