The federal government will transfer $2 billion to provinces and territories to help them with the safe reopening of schools, CBC News has confirmed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make the formal announcement Wednesday morning in Toronto. The scope and details of the plan were discussed Tuesday afternoon during a call with the premiers. The news was first reported by the Toronto Star.
Multiple sources familiar with the arrangement say the provinces and territories will have broad discretion on how to use the money to deal with challenges in the classroom created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $2 billion will be divided up on a per capita basis based on student population.
Sending kids back to school has become a source of anxiety for parents across the country — and a flashpoint for tensions between teachers unions and some provincial governments. Health professionals have called for smaller class sizes to help with physical distancing.
Critics have said too many school districts lack systems for monitoring staff and students for symptoms, and too many schools have antiquated ventilation systems.
Some researchers also have said Canada is lagging behind other countries in introducing saliva-based tests for COVID-19 in schools. There’s still no word on when saliva-based testing for COVID-19 will be allowed in Canada, while in the U.S., five saliva-based tests have been approved so far by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Earlier today, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province would ensure that school boards continue to receive the funding required to make sure they have appropriate personal protective equipment necessary to restart the school year.
“In the area of ventilation the province recently announced an additional $50 million,” said Lecce. “On an annual basis, every single year, under this government we’re allocating $1.4 billion in maintenance and renewal funding.”
Lecce said that school boards have been told to upgrade their ventilation systems to ensure that older buildings are at an acceptable standard for the return of school.
“We’re going to do whatever we can for our boards and we’re going to continue to be there for our boards, especially as challenges emerge in the fall,” he said.
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Don Martin: The prime minister talks turkey in a political address to the nation – CTV News
What. Was. THAT??
A prime minister calling for time across Canadian airwaves is a BIG DEAL and thus very rarely done.
It’s not allowed to be political posturing. It’s supposed to be a five-alarm siren on a matter of national significance from a prime minister who believes urgent information must be fed directly into Canadian ears.
So what does Justin Trudeau do when his demand for 15 minutes of unedited access to the airwaves was granted under the assumption it NOT be political?
In that weird breathlessness he saves for his most dramatic conversations, Trudeau warned Canadians their Thanksgiving turkey is likely cooked by the coronavirus and they might as well cancel the family feast now. Then he dangled the faint hope of Christmas salvation IF we wear masks, download the government COVID-19 tracking app and get a flu shot.
That glum scenario hardly qualifies as news-bulletin material being released by a leader with unique insights to share. It barely rates as a news story, being the parroting of what public health officials have already said about the second wave being upon many of us.
And then Trudeau dived into an overtly-partisan listing of government actions already taken and those to come, provided the throne speech gets passed by Parliament.
It was political grandstanding masked as a public service message, a transparent and shallow attempt to paste Trudeau’s face over the throne speech highlight reel instead of leaving all the television clips to a disinterested reading by scandal-tainted Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
Not to be outdone with this flexing of prime ministerial power, Trudeau’s opposition rivals jumped on the free political advertising bandwagon with highly partisan televised reactions of their own.
Clearly the last week or two have given Canadians an ominous preview of COVID cases building into a tsunami-sized wave on case projection charts.
It’s an emerging emergency which could’ve justified a national address, provided Trudeau’s 6,000-word action plan had not been read to rapture-level media coverage just four hours earlier.
All he did in the prime-time address was echo the throne speech’s pandemic as priority one and repeat the ways his government will help millions of Canadians through the approaching winter of self-isolation discontent.
To be fair, the government did launch a flotilla of lifeboats aimed at keeping COVID-displaced Canadian workers, ravaged retailers, vulnerable seniors, disadvantaged women and daycare-dependent families afloat in the second wave. (The resulting deficits which will confront post-pandemic taxpayers are going to be truly staggering).
But to flesh it out with a hodgepodge of less-urgent, undelivered or oft-repeated priorities dilutes an agenda which should be almost solely fixated on the medical and economic trauma this country is facing.
For example, it’s a safe bet Canada will be two billion trees shy of the two billion trees this government again promised to plant in the Wednesday speech by the time we head to the polls. That and most of the other non-pandemic initiatives will be quickly moved to the back-burner.
But, getting back to the address, for Trudeau to graft his message onto the throne speech was blatant duplication for purely political purposes.
Trudeau and the other party leaders will get their opportunity for an official Hansard-recorded reaction to the throne speech in the House of Commons on Thursday.
What more Trudeau can say after his urgent national address the day before is hard to imagine, unless he’s about to scare off Hallowe’en as well.
Here’s hoping the next time Trudeau demands access to the nation’s airwaves, the networks will say his turkey was cooked in 2020 when he deemed a threat to Thanksgiving worthy of a national broadcast alert.
Then they should tell Trudeau they’ll wait and air his Christmas greeting instead.
That’s the bottom line.
Trump Says FDA Is Playing Politics With COVID-19 Vaccine – NPR
President Trump on Wednesday decried reported health agency efforts to issue stricter guidelines for evaluating a vaccine against COVID-19, accusing the Food and Drug Administration of playing politics.
Trump was apparently reacting to a Tuesday report in the New York Times that said the agency will soon move to tighten requirements for emergency authorization of any coronavirus vaccine to better ensure its safety and effectiveness.
“That has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House.
“I think that was a political move more than anything else,” he said.
The timing of a vaccine has been an issue of contention between the president and health experts.
Trump has directly contradicted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on an estimate for widespread release of a vaccine, saying that such distribution of a vaccine would happen before the end of the year. Trump has also said that “every American” will have access to a vaccine by April.
Redfield has testified to Congress that a vaccine would likely not be widely available until next spring or summer.
Multiple potential vaccines are undergoing testing. Top health officials vowed in a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday that a COVID-19 vaccine would not be approved until it met “vigorous expectations” for safety and effectiveness.
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