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

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Chris Kobelka
Trail Smoke Eaters recruit top prospects

Trail Smoke Eaters building for future in 17-year-old defencemen Joel Barton and Chris Kobelka

Energy consultant Michèle Deluca and city building inspector Sam Ellison are researching how to account for embodied carbon when calculating a new building’s carbon footprint. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson researches climate impact of embodied carbon in new buildings

Embodied carbon is the footprint of the manufacture and transport of building materials

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read