Pandemic has provided chance to reshape Canada's future, PM says
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has been an “unprecedented challenge,” it’s opening up opportunities to rethink and reshape Canada’s future.
“If this pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for our country, it has also been an important opportunity to figure out what really matters in our communities, to have meaningful conversations about how we can take care of those around us, and perhaps above all, to think about what kind of future we want to build together,” Trudeau said during his Rideau Cottage address.
As of Monday, there are more than 101,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, of which more than 64,000 have recovered. While the epidemic growth continues to slow in Canada, new figures from the World Health Organization show that the number of cases worldwide is growing rapidly.
Among the issues COVID-19 has exposed in Canada is the state of some long-term care homes, and the rates of pay for some essential workers.
“We have the chance to shape our country and our world for the better, and I know that we’re up for the task,” said the prime minister.
Trudeau’s comments came on the same day that the new Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said that the course to economic recovery out of the pandemic will be “prolonged and bumpy.”
He also cautioned that while there will be some rebounding as more normal activities resume, the ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic as well as the patchwork of reopening stages across the country, will result in ongoing impacts to the economy.
2.6 MILLION WORKERS ON WAGE SUBSIDY
Trudeau also offered a handful of small updates on various pre-announced aid measures and the assistance that is being offered to businesses as they reopen.
While a number of businesses have been able to allow staff and customers back inside, they’ve needed to implement new procedures or precautions in order to keep people safe, from installing physical barriers, to moving desks and work stations to accommodate the physical distancing requirements.
“Although this has been a very tough few months, for many people, it’s starting to feel like we’ve turned a corner,” Trudeau said.
“With businesses retooling their operations… and people finding creative ways to stay safe, the last few months have shown us the power of thinking outside the box. Going forward, that will serve us very well. Because finding new ways of doing things, and collaborating between sectors, yields great results,” he said.
Still, millions of Canadians are out of work and continue to claim the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which the government extended by eight weeks, giving many unemployed workers more time to find a job.
“Even as things start to improve for many people, we also have to remember that some industries have been hit harder than others, and if you work in one of those sectors, it might take longer to find a job. In the coming weeks, we want you to be able to focus on finding work, not be worrying about your benefits,” Trudeau said.
Meanwhile, others have been able to get back to work, with more than 200,000 employers accessing the federal wage subsidy program, which has paid out more than $13 billion to businesses who have needed the help to cover their workers’ wages.
“By using this benefit, employers have helped 2.6 million Canadians stay in the workplace. These are jobs people rely on to pay the bills, and to put food on the table. Jobs that matter to Canadians and to their families,” Trudeau said on Monday.