Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a roundtable discussion with Black entrepreneurs at HXOUSE in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Cabinet retreat to confront challenge of limiting damage from ongoing pandemic

Ministers are expected flesh out plans for the Sept. 23 throne speech

Bold plans to rebuild Canada’s shattered economy will take a back seat during a two-day cabinet retreat as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers confront the more immediate challenge of how to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from doing even more damage to Canadians’ lives and incomes.

The retreat, starting Monday, is being held as COVID-19 cases are spiking again after a summer lull and experts are warning of a second wave over the fall and winter.

Trudeau last week warned Canadians are “going to have to learn how to continue to live with COVID-19 for many, many more months.” Indeed, the government is operating on the assumption that the global fight against the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will continue for at least two more years.

That grim assumption will underlie cabinet discussions as ministers flesh out plans for the Sept. 23 throne speech, which Trudeau has promised will outline ”a detailed vision for the future and a plan to keep Canadians safe while we rebuild a stronger Canada that works for everyone.”

The speech itself is expected to focus more on getting through the pandemic than how to rebuild after it’s over.

READ MORE: Parliament prorogued, confidence coming on throne speech

According to insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter, it will include three main priorities: the measures needed to protect Canadians’ health and avoid another national lockdown; the economic supports needed to help keep Canadians financially afloat while the pandemic continues; and longer-term measures to eventually rebuild an economy that, as Trudeau has put it, is healthier, safer, cleaner, more competitive, fairer and more inclusive.

In particular, it is expected to promise more funding for health care — including long-term care homes, which have borne the brunt of the more than 9,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Canada — and for child care so that women in particular, who have been hardest hit by the shutdown, can go back to work.

It is also expected to promise investments in affordable housing, in recognition that low-income Canadians living in over-crowded conditions have struggled during the pandemic.

Details on the longer-term recovery measures won’t be revealed until an economic statement later in the fall.

But how fast Canada’s economy bounces back from the pandemic will depend first and foremost on how well the country protects itself while it rages.

That reality is reflected in the agenda for the opening day of the cabinet retreat.

Ministers are to hear presentations from Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam along with the two co-chairs of the COVID-19 vaccine task force, Dr. Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen. They will also hear from Dr. David Naylor, who is co-chair of the task force set up to look at COVID-19 immunity, and chief science adviser Mona Nemer, who is a member of the group.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First fall storm expected to hit Greater Victoria tonight

Heavy rainfall, winds expected over the next several days

Oak Bay chief puts an end to dad jokes on police Twitter

No more jokes on Oak Bay Police Twitter account

Friday night tickets affect Saturday behaviour at the University of Victoria

Saanich police see direct response after issuing several $230 fines

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. ELECTION: MLA Adam Olsen says NDP is sacrificing health for politics

Olsen acknowledges situation of a snap election is not ideal for BC Greens,

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

RCMP issue two $2,300 COVID fines at same Metro Vancouver vacation rental within 24 hours

Cpl. Mike Kalanj said it was ‘quite frankly appalling’ to see parties breaking COVID-19 rules

Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

Elections BC has worked with the provincial health office to determine safety protocols for voting

B.C. privacy commissioner will hear First Nations complaints about COVID

The hearing will rely on written submissions from the Indigenous governments as well as the Ministry of Health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

Nearly 90 per cent felt wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19

Paper towel in short supply as people stay home, clean more, industry leader says

While toilet paper consumption has returned to normal levels, paper towel sales continue to outpace pre-COVID levels

Most Read