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Throne speech to provide COVID-19 second wave response plan, says PM

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with the media before the first day of a Liberal cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Monday September 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

The throne speech will give Canadians a better idea of how the federal government will handle a potential 2nd wave

Positive cases of COVID-19 have been steadily climbing in some provinces, including B.C., for the last few weeks

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu not ruling out another shutdown of the economy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal throne speech will give Canadians a better idea of how the federal government will handle a potential second wave of COVID-19, the prime minister said Wednesday after a two-day retreat with federal ministers in Ottawa.

Positive cases of COVID-19 have been steadily climbing in some provinces, including B.C., for the last few weeks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that’s not OK, as his government prepares for the Sept. 23 throne speech.

“Each new case has the potential to multiply and create even more cases. So we’re not out of the woods. This is why I’m asking Canadians to continue to be very careful and follow public health recommendations, limit the in-person close contacts that you have, take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of exposure, and keep yourself and your family safe,” he said.

“These efforts help protect our grandparents, our parents, our frontline workers and vulnerable people in our communities. We have to show solidarity to keep each other safe. We’ve come too far to give up now. Together, Canadians must stay strong and vigilant.”

Federal ministers were initially to meet to discuss how to rebuild the Canadian economy, as well as climate change initiatives.

However, that shifted to how to protect the health of Canadians and avert the potential for another nation-wide economic shutdown like the one that threw millions of Canadians out of work this past spring and led to the creation of supports, such as the Canadian Economic Response Benefit.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said after the retreat, while another shutdown of the economy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic would be expensive, the government is not ruling out taking such action.

Hajdu also said that authorities have learned some important lessons from combating the pandemic so far.

“A full economic shutdown would be difficult for this country,” she added. “Not to rule it out, because, of course, listen, we will protect the health of Canadians and we will do what it takes. I think we’ve learned a lot since the first wave and we’ve made some significant improvements in the health-care system, in our preparedness in terms of equipment and supplies, and even understanding of the virus.”

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Hajdu also addressed the issue of Canadians waiting long hours to be tested for COVID-19. She said provinces need to rethink their testing strategies to avoid backlogs.

“I think this is an opportune time for both ministers of health, along with their advisors to take a look at their strategy and determine what more they can do to accelerate access to testing,” she said. “It’s very important, as well, that people call ahead to testing.”

But, Hajdu added, the federal government has yet to find a rapid test on the market that is considered to be accurate enough to be depended on.

Regarding a fall election, Trudeau was clear, having one is not a priority.

“I do not want an election. I don’t think Canadians want an election. I think Canadians want politicians to work togther to serve them, to build a better future for them and keep them safe during this COVID crisis,” he said.

At the same time, Trudeau said holding an election campaign, if one was forced on Canadians, would not be an irresponsible act.