The federal government’s ongoing review about the good, bad and possibly ugly parts of its response to COVID-19 will feed into plans for an improved response to a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
Speaking outside his Ottawa residence, Trudeau said there are plenty of things that in hindsight the government might have done differently or sooner to respond to the economic fallout from the pandemic.
He didn’t go into details about how things could have changed.
Looking ahead, Trudeau said the federal government will be able to respond with sufficient fiscal room if economic lockdowns are required to combat a second wave of COVID-19.
He said the government is planning for a worst-case scenario and hoping for the best.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau is scheduled to provide an updated snapshot of federal finances next week, which will give an idea of how the government sees the rest of the fiscal year playing out, including figures for a potential deficit.
“There’s certainly plenty of things we would have done differently,” Trudeau said.
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“Some things we might have done a little sooner. Some things we might have done a little later but we spent very little time analyzing, wishing we’d done things differently. Those reflections, of course, are ongoing and will continue to be ongoing so that we’re better positioned for a potential second wave and moving forward.”
Reflecting on one of his most recent announcements, Trudeau defended the government’s decision to have WE Charity run a $912-million student service grant that pays students who volunteer this summer up to $5,000.
The design of the volunteer grant has also faced heat for replacing paid work with volunteers earning below minimum wage, and rules that may limit the top payments to students with the financial means to volunteer large amounts of their time.
Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor comments on airlines selling middle seat on flights
Trudeau said some 25,000 young people from across the country applied for the grant over the past few days, pointing to the need for a large organization with the necessary reach to deliver the program.
“The WE organization is the largest national youth service organization in the country,” Trudeau said.
“Quite frankly, when our public servants looked at the potential partners,” he added a moment later, “only the WE organization had the capacity to deliver the ambitious program that young people need for this summer.”
He also said it wasn’t a new idea to give “bonus grants” to young people who volunteer “to recognize the value of service.”
The latest federal figures show direct spending at just over $174 billion, including another increase to the budget for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. That is now expected to cost $80 billion.
As of June 21, the government had paid $52.14 billion in benefits to nearly 8.1 million people _ a revised figure after officials found counting errors that previously showed over 8.4 million unique applicants. Just over half of those people _ nearly 4.1 million _ are workers who exhausted their employment insurance benefits as a result of the pandemic, accounting for nearly $23.7 billion in payments, according to the most recent update the government provided to the House of Commons finance committee.
On top of that are tens of billions more in measures designed to leave money in individuals’ and businesses’ pockets. Income taxes aren’t due until the end of the summer, but the Finance Department said Monday that deferrals on remitting sales taxes and customs duty payments won’t last past June 30.
The next day, rent is due.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents many small- and medium-sized companies across the country, said a survey of its members showed just under one-third of respondents said they couldn’t afford rent for July unless the Liberals extended a commercial rent relief program.
As of June 21, the program had doled out $152 million in forgivable loans to landlords that agreed to give a rent break to more than 20,000 tenants.
Trudeau said the government intends to extend the program by another month and is working with provinces on a plan to do it, acknowledging that many business owners continue to struggle with cash flow issues.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Ottawans reinvent Canada Day celebrations for 2020 – CBC.ca
For the first time in recent memory, Parliament Hill did not host the country’s biggest party on Canada Day.
With no formal celebrations on the hill this year, Ottawans instead turned to their neighbourhoods, city parks and beaches to show Canadian pride.
Here’s what just a few people in the nation’s capital did to celebrate Canada’s 153rd year.
Canada's five big banks join anti-hate advertising boycott of Facebook – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Jake Kivanc, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, July 1, 2020 3:27PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 1, 2020 6:05PM EDT
TORONTO – All five of Canada’s biggest banks are joining an international boycott of Facebook over concerns that the platform is complicit in promoting racism, violence and misinformation.
Scotiabank, RBC, CIBC, BMO and TD have pledged to stop purchasing ads on the site for the month, aligning themselves with brands such as Lululemon Athletica and MEC in signing onto the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
The initiative, spearheaded by organizations like the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, began in response to growing anti-Semitic and anti-Black rhetoric found on the social media platform.
Participating brands will suspend all advertising on the platform for the month of July.
Scotiabank announced its intentions on Tuesday, while the four others confirmed on Wednesday that they would follow suit.
A spokesman for RBC said the company understands that systemic racism has disadvantaged Black, Indigenous and People of Colour and the bank intends to combat that.
“One way we can do that is by standing against misinformation and hate speech, which only make systemic racism more pervasive,” AJ Goodman said.
Facebook has come under fire in recent months for what critics say is an indifference when it comes to policing their platform for individuals and groups espousing hateful ideology.
They’ve also been criticized for a lack of action on disinformation.
For instance, last month, U.S. President Donald Trump posted a doctored video featuring fake CNN footage on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts, in which a CNN logo appears over footage of a Black toddler running away from a white toddler.
The footage is then followed by another clip from a different angle – this time without the CNN watermark – in which it becomes clear the two toddlers are friends.
The parents of the two toddlers later told ABC News that they were “appalled” and “disgusted” by the video.
Initially, only Twitter flagged the video as misleading, with Facebook resisting public pressure to enforce their own labelling system.
However, after numerous brands began pulling advertising from the platform, the company reversed its decision at the end of June and began taking down some political posts deemed to be fake or misleading.
Criticism against Facebook has come from inside the company as well.
At the beginning of June – shortly after Trump threatened via social media to order the military to shoot anti-racism protestors – hundreds of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest the company’s refusal to label the post as hate speech.
A spokesman for Facebook noted that the company has suspended more than 250 white supremacist groups from the platform but did not specifically comment on the boycott.
More recently, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting called on the federal government to drop hosting its virtual celebration on Facebook.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s address to Canadians went ahead on the platform – along with YouTube, CBC, CPAC and Radio-Canada – on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 1, 2020.
Facebook and The Canadian Press recently announced a reporting initiative called the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Facebook will have no influence over the stories created under the program, which is set to launch in the fall; The Canadian Press will maintain complete editorial independence.
How the country's top doc is spending Canada Day and how she thinks you should too – CTV News
As Canadians celebrate a toned-down Canada Day this year, the country’s top doctor is reminding everyone to continue to follow COVID-19 health guidelines she’s observing while enjoying the holiday.
While she’s spending some of the day at work, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam also hoped to celebrate Canada’s birthday by going outside for a run.
“The thing I love about Canada, when I arrived in Canada, was the great, amazing, and epic outdoors,” she told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “I’m a runner so I’m going to try and do a little bit of exercise if I can and practise what I preach, really, to maintain all of that good public health advice.”
That “good public health advice” Tam is referring to includes gathering virtually, wearing a face mask whenever it’s difficult to maintain physical distance, frequent hand washing, meeting in social “bubbles,” and staying home when sick.
“Virtual is best, but certainly stay within your household or family bubble,” she said. “Boat together in your bubble, commute within your bubble, barbecue within your bubble. It’s the safest.”
With more than 27,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, Tam also took the opportunity to remind Canadians the coronavirus hasn’t been eradicated yet.
“Right now, overall in Canada, we have passed the peak of this first wave and we’re well on our way down the other side of the curve, but the virus is still with us and so we cannot let our guard down,” she explained. “There are hotspots around the country. It hasn’t left.”
Tam said she expects to see more outbreaks as more businesses reopen and some Canadians return to the office in the coming weeks.
“The key is to sort of jump on those cases and find those contacts really fast, do good testing, and keep those numbers down,” she said. “The best-case scenario is a series of these little bumps that we can actually manage to control across the country.”
As for how long Canadians will have to adhere to these guidelines, Tam said there’s no way to know for sure, but the only way to prevent further spread of the virus is for everyone to work together.
“I do want to wish everybody a happy and safe Canada Day, go out as safe as you can,” she said. “This is a marathon and not a sprint.”
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