OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — With measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Canada working, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers released a set of common principles Tuesday for restarting the economy.
Earlier in the day, federal health officials outlined new modelling that showed the rate of transmission in Canada is a third of what it was a month ago.
Trudeau said during his morning briefing that federal and provincial governments would soon release shared principles on restarting economies, adding controlling transmission remains key.
“Let me be clear, these are not the specific measures when you can go back to work or school or when you can see your neighbours or extended family or friends,” he said. “This framework will lay out the things that need to happen before we take any next steps restarting our economy.”
The federal ministers later released a shared statement on the public health approach to support restarting the economy.
“As the first wave of the virus’ activity passes, all governments want to safely restore economic activity, while protecting the health of Canadians. Until there is a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, strong measures must be in place for this new normal phase of living with COVID-19 to contain future waves or outbreaks and protect Canadians and economies across the country,” it says.
“While there will be regional differences during this process, all governments intend to continue their present collaboration in the interest of all Canadians. Governments will make decisions suited to their jurisdictions, geography, and disease activity. These decisions will be informed by experiences in other countries in Asia, Europe, and around the world – particularly those who had outbreaks earlier than Canada and who have achieved demonstrable successes. A shared key objective is to minimize the risk of another wave of COVID-19 that forces governments to re-impose severe restrictions, further damaging the social and economic fabric of communities.”
The ministers acknowledged reopening the economy will be gradual, with a focus protecting the health of Canadians, high-risk groups in particular. They also want to ensure public health capacity remains strong to prepare for any future waves of the pandemic, including enhanced testing and contact tracing.
They agreed decisions to ease or reinstate measures should be based on current public health situations, as advised by public health officials.
They also agreed to support the continuation of supply chains across borders to maintain economic activity, access to protective equipment, and food security.
“Governments will continue to share information about challenges and opportunities.”
Each government will continue to monitor the impacts of measures to restart the economy and provide updates on progress.
“Data sharing is critical to understanding the situation across Canada and is essential to informing efforts to re-open segments of the economy.”
Ministers also agreed that public health measures should be relaxed based on the level of threat, and in a controlled and phased manner, based on information that may change over time.
As for criteria and measures needed to restart the economy, the ministers agreed the incidence of new cases should be maintained at a level that health care systems can manage, with substantial clinical care capacity in reserve.
They also determined expanded health care capacity should exist for all patients.
“Health care systems should support all needs, including dealing with any future outbreaks, recognizing that this will be achieved through having surge capacity in place and other means.”
Furthermore, ministers said provinces and territories are best suited to determine how comprehensive health care services are supported, including primary care, diagnostic services, and acute care services, including elective surgeries and non-COVID emergencies.
“Procurement of supplies will ensure that there is adequate supply on hand in case of a resurgence of the virus and to support enhanced testing.”
Ministers also want to ensure measures are in place to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the virus in vulnerable populations, and at workplaces.
Restrictions on non-essential domestic travel should be eased and managed in a coordinated manner, they added.
“Re-opening of international borders and access for non-Canadian residents may only happen in later stages, taking into account the spread of the virus outside Canada, and measures to avoid the spread of the virus for everyone entering the country.”
Lastly, ministers said governments will support communities in managing local disease activity, including in childcare, schools, and public transportation, while working with industry and economic sectors to support optimal health, reduced viral activity, and protection of the economy as it restarts.