Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected on June 4, 2020 to announce when seniors can expect to receive a promised emergency boost to the old age security pension. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

PM joins third pandemic summit amid campaign for Security Council seat

Ensuring poor countries access to an eventual vaccine

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking part in his third international summit in a week as Canada campaigns for a coveted United Nation’s Security Council seat on a platform of helping to rebuild the post-pandemic world.

Today’s summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is aimed at ensuring poor countries will have ready access to an eventual vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Trudeau will join leaders from 50 countries and major organizations, including philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, at the international pledging conference, which hopes to raise nearly $10 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — the leading agency for distributing vaccines to less-developed countries.

He has already announced Canada’s five-year, $600-million pledge to GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2000.

Trudeau’s participation in the virtual conference comes one day after he delivered an address to a virtual summit of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States.

He told members that Canada is committed to helping developing countries hardest hit by the pandemic to survive the crisis.

His remarks underlined a message he delivered last week when he co-hosted a UN-sponsored conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global recovery plan that leaves no country behind.

Without a global plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

Trudeau’s leading role in the international conferences comes just two weeks before the UN’s 193 ambassadors are to start voting by secret ballot to fill two, non-permanent seats on the Security Council. Canada is competing for one of the two seats against Norway and Ireland.

The June 17 vote is to be conducted without a full meeting of the General Assembly because of physical distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Closer to home, Trudeau is also expected today to announce when seniors can expect to receive a promised emergency boost to the old age security pension and guaranteed income supplement to help them defray additional costs caused by the pandemic.

On May 12, Trudeau announced the federal government would provide a tax-free, one-time payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the OAS and an additional $200 for those eligible for the GIS. That money — totalling some $2.5 billion — has not yet begun to flow.

In April, the federal government spent $1.3 billion to provide seniors with a one-time special payment through the goods and services tax credit, worth an average of $375 for each single senior.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.

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