Trudeau says Parliament will resume Tuesday to pass emergency measures
TORONTO -- MPs will return to the House of Commons to pass emergency legislation aimed at supporting Canadians and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking from outside Rideau Cottage, where he is in self-isolation, Trudeau said Parliament will resume Tuesday at noon.
Its sole focus will be on passing emergency legislation to implement the measures the government announced this week, including benefits for Canadians who are out of work, an enhanced Canada Child Benefit, and new funding for research into the novel coronavirus.
All told, the economic stimulus comprises $27 billion in direct aid and $55 billion in deferred taxes. Trudeau said he expected the new legislation to be passed within days and to be followed by further measures.
"These are only a very first step. We are looking now at what those next steps are to ensure that our economy is able to get through this," he told reporters.
The prime minister and his family have been in self-isolation since March 13, when Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said at a later press conference that all parties have agreed to a plan that will see 32 MPs in the House of Commons, representing each party proportionally. There will be 14 Liberals, 11 Conservatives, three members apiece of the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, and one Green MP.
All 32 MPs will be travelling by car to Parliament Hill, Rodriguez said. Some of the Liberals in attendance will be cabinet ministers, and there will be some form of question period.
The Senate will likely make similar arrangements to pass the legislation as quickly as possible, Rodriguez said.
Trudeau thanked the opposition parties – who have notably steered clear of criticizing the government's actions during the pandemic – for their efforts in setting up the return of Parliament.
"I know that together, we can protect Canadians, save jobs and set the groundwork for our economy to rebound after this crisis," he said.
As of Sunday morning, there were more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada, including 20 deaths.
Several provinces have started to take harsher measures to stop the spread of the virus. Nova Scotia announced Sunday that screening centres would be set up at all ports of entry into the province by Monday morning. One day earlier, the Northwest Territories banned inbound travel and Prince Edward Island announced that anyone entering the province will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
The worsening restrictions in several provinces have prompted calls for the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act, which would allow for a better clampdown on travel within Canada, among many other measures.
Trudeau has thus far declined to call a national state of emergency. Asked again about this on Sunday, he suggested it will not happen until the needed measure extend past what provincial and municipal governments are already able to do.
The prime minister also thanked essential workers who have remained on the job during the pandemic, including health-care staff, first responders, retail workers, commercial drivers and others.
"Know that all Canadians are grateful for your service," he said.