COVID-19: Governments Move Quickly in the War on COVID-19

COVID-19In addition to the measures announced over the past 48 hours, federal, provincial and territorial governments demonstrated they are moving quickly to find ways to mobilize private sector resources to fight COVID-19 while ensuring the basic needs of Canadians are met.  This means opportunity for the private sector, and some not-for-profit entities, who want to lend a hand to help solve this crisis – through procurement, healthcare measures and supports, and ensuring the safety of the supply chain to get supplies directly to the source.

Federal

Prime Minister Trudeau delivered a message of reassurance – reiterating the economic measures announced yesterday.  He noted that the government will have more to say about procurement and industry engagement in the days to come.

He also stated that measures regarding the closure of the Canada-US border are anticipated to come into effect either Friday or Saturday as details continue to be worked out.

The Prime Minister was also asked about the use of the Emergencies Act, and he stated that it would only be enacted as a last resort.  He did note that the government is considering the use of any measures necessary to ensure the health care system has what it needs.

Finally, he reinforced the need for Canadians to come home as soon as possible, a message that the federal government has continued to emphasize with clarity over the last 48 hours.

The Prime Minister’s comments were followed up Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland who reiterated the need for Canadians to come home as new border regulations are put in place, preserving trade and essential cross-border travel while preventing non-essential travel.  She also addressed the issue of illegal immigrants crossing the Canada-US border at Roxham Road in Quebec, stating that anyone who crosses here will be quarantined there for 14 days.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller was part of the announcements today with details of a $305 million “Indigenous Communities Support Fund” to address the immediate needs of Indigenous communities and organizations to determine where critical support is necessary.  More details will be available “soon,” but Miller reiterated Indigenous Services is available to mobilize the delivery of supplies to Indigenous communities.

Ontario

 The Ontario Legislature convened today at 1:00 pm for an emergency session.  Members engaged in social distancing in the chamber, with the minimum number of MPPs required to achieve quorum to pass legislation.  Premier Ford noted the introduction of two pieces of legislation:

  • The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, provides job protection for employees unable to work and who are in quarantine or self-isolation, including parents who need to look after children because of school or daycare closures, or to care for other relatives, retroactive to January 25, 2020
  • The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020, allows municipal councils and local boards to meet electronically when in-person meetings cannot be held, as well as ensuring that municipal noise by-laws don’t impact urgent deliveries.

Both pieces of legislation were passed with unanimous consent by the 26 MPPs present at Queen’s Park.

In addition, Ontario has extended the validity of several pieces of identification, including drivers’ licences, health cards, and plate renewals. They have also committed to continuing the delivery of time-critical services including Motor Vehicle Inspection Station Stock orders and Single-Trip Oversize/Overweight permits.

Across the Country

Across the country, the COVID-19 response is ramping up, with restrictions on travel, mass gatherings, and social distancing measures being implemented.  States of emergency have been declared in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick, providing the ability to implement emergency measures required to prevent, respond, or alleviate the effects of an emergency – including securing supply chains.  Public health emergencies have also been declared in Quebec, Alberta, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

Within the last day:

  • BC declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, announcing 45 new cases, bringing the total cases to 231
  • Alberta introduced financial relief measures for individuals and businesses, including $50 million in support for those who are self-isolating
  • Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency yesterday. The province delayed its 2020 budget, instead tabling budget estimates without revenue forecasts in the Legislature, with a financial update to be provided once the situation becomes more stable.
  • In Manitoba, the government has been blocked by the opposition from tabling its budget and the government is expected to provide further information this week. Meanwhile, Health Minister Cameron Friesen has said that calling a state of emergency is “not off the table.”
  • In Quebec today, Premier Francois Legault urged people to stay home and limit travel between regions, with all municipal public meetings cancelled or postponed, as the number of confirmed cases jumped to 121. The government also announced a $2.5 billion relief package, with Premier Legault encouraging Quebecers to buy locally made products.
  • New Brunswick declared a state of emergency this afternoon, making closures and restrictions enforceable, as people were not following recommended restrictions. New Brunswick has also postponed municipal elections, scheduled for May 11th.
  • Nova Scotia introduced added restrictions and introduced new measures to increase health system capacity on Wednesday and introduced financial measures, including cash top ups to social assistance.
  • Prince Edward Island announced financial support for small businesses, the self-employed, and employees and asked non-essential businesses to close.
  • Newfoundland declared a public health emergency on Wednesday, making restrictions enforceable by fines.

StrategyCorp COVID-19 Government Updates

March 18 – Ford and Key Ministers Update Province on COVID-19
March 18 – Federal Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
March 17 – Ford Declares State of Emergency in Ontario
March 16 – COVID-19: Canada Restricts Travelers from Outside North America
March 13 – Canada Moves to Tackle Economic Challenges of COVID-19