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

Co-owner, Baani Arora (pictured) celebrated the grand opening of Maharajah Grocerz in Penticton Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton’s first South Asian supermarket celebrates grand opening

Maharajah Grocerz carries foods found across South Asian countries as well as North American staples

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

NDP candidate Toni Boot has had multiple campaign signs vandalized in Penticton. However, she doesn’t believe the vandalism is targeting a specific party or candidate, she told <em>Black Press Media </em>in an Oct. 17, 2020 interview. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Vandals target Penticton campaign signs

NDP candidate Toni Boot says she’s had multiple signs vandalized since the start of her campaign

Stefano Bottini of the Penticton Vees had much to celebrate this weekend, as his team pushed their win streak to eight games with a pair of blowout victories over the West Kelowna Warriors. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees dominate West Kelowna in back-to-back games

The Vees remain undefeated in the Okanagan Cup, Warriors fall to 3-4-0-1

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Smoke pours from abandoned Kelowna heritage building

The cause of the blaze remains unknown at this time

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the temporary shelter operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. A fire was discovered in the building’s attic, forcing the evacuation of temporary residents and staff. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Reported electrical fire evacuates Okanagan temporary shelter

No visible smoke or flame but Vernon firefighters discover small blaze in former warehouse’s attic

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

The view from Donald Bridge, looking east on Highway 1, about 28 km north of Golden at 11:50 a.m. Oct. 18. (DriveBC)
UPDATE: Expect delays on highway east of Revelstoke

A vehicle incident occurred near the Quartz Creek bridge

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman William Lavigne (left) tries to rub out Vernon Vipers forward Max Bulawka in B.C. Hockey League Okanagan Cup action. Vernon completed a home-and-home sweep of the Gorillas with a 4-3 overtime win Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Shaw Centre. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers sweep Salmon Arm

Snakes win 5-2 at home Friday, 4-3 in overtime Saturday at the Shaw Centre

A winning Lotto 649 Guaranteed Winning Prize ticket worth $1 million in the Saturday, Oct. 17 draw was purchased in the Shuswap. (File photo)
Million-dollar lotto ticket bought in Okanagan

Ticket bought in Shuswap wins Lotto 649 Guaranteed Winning Match game from Saturday, Oct. 17

Most Read