COVID-19 Update: March 17

These are some of the top recent stories from Governments.

March 17, 2020

PM says financial measures on the way to help ‘millions of Canadians’ get through COVID-19 crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a package of financial supports is on the way to help millions of Canadians and businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis — and he isn’t ruling out an extension to the tax filing deadline.

During a news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, Trudeau urged Canadians to stay home and follow recommended steps to stop the spread of infection, saying steps taken now can help save lives. He said the government is also looking at temporarily recalling Parliament to bring in emergency economic measures.

“Tomorrow we will be making another major announcement on economic actions to support Canadians as quickly as possible. By the end of the week, we will have more to say about changes for the upcoming tax season,” he said.

Trudeau also said the government is examining the Emergencies Act to determine if it should be invoked, or if there are other ways for the government to take steps to protect the public.

Trudeau said the government will introduce measures such as employment insurance supports and direct income supports for those who don’t qualify for employment insurance.

“We’re going to be flowing income supports to millions of Canadians. We’re going to make sure that we’re able to weather this crisis in the right way,” he said.

‘We must act decisively’: Ontario premier declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 outbreak

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province as it looks to combat the spread of COVID-19 and prevent coronavirus from overwhelming its health-care system.

“We’re facing an unprecedented time in our history. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Ford said at a Tuesday morning news conference at Queen’s Park. He was joined by Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer.

As part of the declaration, the province will mandate the closure of restaurants and bars, though those that can offer takeout and delivery can continue selling food items.

The province is also prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people, including at indoor recreation centres, theatres and concert venues, libraries, places of worship, private schools and licensed daycares until March 31. Ontario previously ordered all publicly-funded schools to close until April 6.

The order does not yet apply to public transit, shopping malls, grocery stores and pharmacies, Williams said.

Canadian snowbirds told to come home as some insurers warn medical insurance will be restricted

Canadian snowbirds are being advised to return home as the COVID-19 pandemic advances in the U.S. — and access to out-of-country medical insurance comes to an end for some travellers.

Speaking to reporters from self-isolation Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a plea to all Canadians abroad: come home now or risk being stranded as countries close their borders and limit flights.