Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a roundtable discussion with Black entrepreneurs at HXOUSE in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a roundtable discussion with Black entrepreneurs at HXOUSE in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Cabinet retreat to confront challenge of limiting damage from ongoing pandemic

Ministers are expected flesh out plans for the Sept. 23 throne speech

Bold plans to rebuild Canada’s shattered economy will take a back seat during a two-day cabinet retreat as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers confront the more immediate challenge of how to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from doing even more damage to Canadians’ lives and incomes.

The retreat, starting Monday, is being held as COVID-19 cases are spiking again after a summer lull and experts are warning of a second wave over the fall and winter.

Trudeau last week warned Canadians are “going to have to learn how to continue to live with COVID-19 for many, many more months.” Indeed, the government is operating on the assumption that the global fight against the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will continue for at least two more years.

That grim assumption will underlie cabinet discussions as ministers flesh out plans for the Sept. 23 throne speech, which Trudeau has promised will outline ”a detailed vision for the future and a plan to keep Canadians safe while we rebuild a stronger Canada that works for everyone.”

The speech itself is expected to focus more on getting through the pandemic than how to rebuild after it’s over.

READ MORE: Parliament prorogued, confidence coming on throne speech

According to insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter, it will include three main priorities: the measures needed to protect Canadians’ health and avoid another national lockdown; the economic supports needed to help keep Canadians financially afloat while the pandemic continues; and longer-term measures to eventually rebuild an economy that, as Trudeau has put it, is healthier, safer, cleaner, more competitive, fairer and more inclusive.

In particular, it is expected to promise more funding for health care — including long-term care homes, which have borne the brunt of the more than 9,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Canada — and for child care so that women in particular, who have been hardest hit by the shutdown, can go back to work.

It is also expected to promise investments in affordable housing, in recognition that low-income Canadians living in over-crowded conditions have struggled during the pandemic.

Details on the longer-term recovery measures won’t be revealed until an economic statement later in the fall.

But how fast Canada’s economy bounces back from the pandemic will depend first and foremost on how well the country protects itself while it rages.

That reality is reflected in the agenda for the opening day of the cabinet retreat.

Ministers are to hear presentations from Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam along with the two co-chairs of the COVID-19 vaccine task force, Dr. Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen. They will also hear from Dr. David Naylor, who is co-chair of the task force set up to look at COVID-19 immunity, and chief science adviser Mona Nemer, who is a member of the group.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
New skate and ski trails in the City of Wetaskiwin this winter

Outdoor skating rinks open in the City and County of Wetaskiwin.

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)
Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive. File photo.
Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive

Local Wetaskiwin businesses set up as toy drive drop off locations.

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Judge finds former Alberta Mountie not guilty of sexually assaulting colleague

Jason Andrew Tress, who is 34, was stationed in the northern Alberta community of Faust at the time of the alleged assault

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Alberta set to retire coal power by 2023, ahead of 2030 provincial deadline

In 2014, 55 per cent of Alberta’s electricity was produced from 18 coal-fired generators

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Lacombe Police and RCMP have charged four people and seized three loaded guns and a small amount of methamphetamine following a traffic stop on Dec. 2. (Photo contributed)
Lacombe Police and RCMP arrest four people after joint investigation

The operation resulted in multiple loaded weapons seized and 116 charges

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Most Read