Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits beside Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland before speaking to members of caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, January 23, 2020.Trudeau has created a new cabinet committee to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak which began in China but now has spread around the world. Freeland will chair the group, while Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos will be vice-chair. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

VIDEO: Ottawa considering funds to help people, business as COVID-19 spreads

The risk of community transmission of the virus is still considered low in Canada

The government is mulling potential financial help to ease the burden of the novel coronavirus on businesses and individuals after its first cabinet committee meeting on the subject, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday.

“We are very mindful that an economic impact is certainly being felt in the global economy and is beginning to be felt in Canada, and that’s one of the things we need to turn our attention to,” Freeland, the committee chair, told reporters in Ottawa.

“So I would just say about that, watch this space.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the newly formed committee Wednesday morning, and it met for the first time later that afternoon.

The cabinet committee for COVID-19, which is the respiratory disease linked to the strain of novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, will complement the work being done by the government’s incident response group.

The cabinet committee will continue to monitor the health impacts of the virus to make sure the government response takes all possible measures to prevent and limit the spread in Canada, Trudeau said in a written release Wednesday.

Trudeau also told reporters the committee will be keeping an eye on the economic impacts of the virus.

“We need to make sure that people make the right decisions. That’s why we put forward a committee that will be responsible for ensuring that Canadians have the right frame to make the good decisions for their families, for their communities,” Trudeau said in St-Jerome, Que.

“We need to keep alert, but we need to keep moving forward in a way that keeps Canadians safe and keeps our economy rolling.”

The risk of community transmission of the virus is still considered low in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Trudeau said the government has been watching the global impact of the virus on the economy closely.

“We’re seeing that in terms of tourism there’s an impact, there’s an impact on investment, on the airline industry, on the auto industry as well. We’re seeing a slow down,” he said.

He pointed to supply-chain disruptions in China affecting Canadian businesses too.

“There will be an impact and we’re there to try to find solutions together with companies and communities.”

Freeland said there may also be micro-economic impacts on individuals who may have to say home because they are sick, or even be quarantined.

“We will be ready to act when it’s necessary,” she said.

“We are monitoring the outbreak and we remain ready to deploy fiscal measures as appropriate.”

The committee will include several other cabinet ministers and Kirsty Duncan, deputy government House leader.

Duncan is a medical geographer who studied pandemics before she entered politics — including writing a book on the 1918 Spanish flu.

Freeland emphasized that the entire country needs to be involved in the response to the virus.

Hajdu said employers can also play a large part by making it easier for people to work from home or stay away if they are unwell.

And everyone can do their part by washing their hands and staying away from others if they are sick, she said.

Canada now has 35 cases of the new coronavirus, most of them in Ontario.

But globally, the number of countries detecting new cases has been increasing every day. There are now at least 93, 090 confirmed cases in 76 countries, including more than 3,000 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusLiberals

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

Just Posted

Port Hardy Secondary School’s 2019-2020 wrestling season

Both Lamothe and Speck thanked Cleary for volunteering his time to sponsor the program.

First government licensed cannabis shop on Vancouver Island celebrates one year in business

‘I’m really happy we’re here giving the public what they want’

Fire Chefs give back to community with one free meal a day to those who are in need

Fire Chefs will offer one free meal from 3:30 until 4:30 on the days they are open to those in need.

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Most Read