PM Trudeau addresses Canadians as COVID-19 shuts down Parliament

Speaking to Canadians from outside Rideau Cottage, Ottawa on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advised Canadians to avoid all non-essential global travel, as the still rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic suspended Canadian Parliament. He said that additional screening measures would be implemented at airports and vowed that the federal government will “help Canadians financially.” 

In addition to the $1 billion in health and economic measures announced earlier this week, the government of Canada will be unveiling “significant fiscal stimulus packages” in the days ahead. He shared that his biggest worry at the moment is ensuring that Canadians take seriously public health advice, but not panic.

“I know that you’re worried. You’re worried about your health, about your families’ health, about your job, your savings, about paying rent, about the kids not being in school. I know that you’re concerned about uncertainty in the global economy. The steps being taken to keep you safe, have an economic impact,” Trudeau said, promising more financial help.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe.”

The prime minister addressed Canadians from his home while under 14 days of self-isolation after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday. He reassured Canadians that he has no symptoms, is “feeling good,” and is “continuing to work extremely hard from home.”

Trudeau said that aside from travel advisory, the government is also taking steps to prevent infections.

“We are looking to reduce the number of airports that will accept travellers from overseas in order to be able to give the proper resources on all arrivals to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep Canadians and Canada safe,” he said.

“Addressing COVID-19 must be a team Canada effort. To keep Canadians safe and to mitigate the economic impacts of the virus, all levels of government are working together,” Trudeau said.

Canada’s cruise season is being postponed and international flights coming into Canada will be restricted to a smaller number of airports.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons has agreed to shutting down parliamentary business until April 20 to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. Trudeau said the agreement to suspend the House still gives them the flexibility to do what they need to do to support Canadians.

COVID-19 outbreak has infected more than 150 people in Canada across, which has led to school closures, the suspension or cancellation of major sporting events, recreational activities, attractions, and other public gatherings. Globally, there have been more than 145,000 cases of the virus with more than 5,000 deaths.

Photo: Dave Chan/AFP, Aljazeera

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