Speaking on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government has created a $1 billion plan to combat COVID-19. The update comes as more and more Canadians are forced to work from home due to novel coronavirus concerns. The money will be spent on education, EI benefits and supporting local health care.

In a statement to the media just after 9 a.m., Justin Trudeau explained the government’s plans for federal funding, which will aim to take pressure off local health systems. 

It will also provide support to Canadians who have been forced to isolate themselves due to COVID-19, and those who need to take sick-days to recover.

The Prime Minister explained, “I know that people across the country are worried … worried about the kind of impact this could have on their job, their business.”

“We have a responsibility to make sure Canada is ready for all scenarios, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

Of the $1 billion fund,  $200 million will go to federal responses to the virus, which will include face masks and “continued public education.”

$275 million will be allocated to research, while $50 million will be sent away as “international assistance.”

Additionally, $150 million will be provided to support the immediate public health response, including funding for Indigenous Services Canada.

According to CBC News, the federal package is also likely to include waiving the one week waiting period for EI benefits, so Canadians who need to self-isolate will be financially protected.

For now, the immediate objective is to contain the spread of COVID-19 wherever possible, as well as helping those who have already been affected.

“Nobody should have to worry about their job if they have to be quarantined. Nobody should have to lay off an employee because of the virus.”

“Our government is here for you. We will make sure you have everything you need,” Trudeau said.

 

Speaking earlier this week, Labour Minister Filomena Tassi said that the government wants to ensure Canadians will not be forced to work if they’re unwell.

"We also don't want workers going to work because they feel that they need to work in order to pay for the groceries and put food on the table,” she said.

The Prime Minister concluded by encouraging Canadians to “do their part” to avoid the spread of the virus. His advice included washing hands more, avoiding handshakes, and coughing into shoulders.

"We can, by making smart choices ... slow down the spread of infection in Canada, and that will prevent us from overburdening our healthcare system."

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