Included was CAN$1.7 billion to clean up thousands of abandoned oil wells left behind in Alberta due to bankrupt companies – Alberta has been hard hit by the low price of oil – and Saskatchewan and British Columbia. It is expected to create 5,200 jobs for Albertans alone.
Sandwiched in with the new funding for rural businesses and a CAN$750 million for an emissions reduction fund to create jobs was the announcement that despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s rumblings about opening the border, Trudeau said the two counties had reached an agreement to keep the border closed to all but essential traffic for another 30 days. The order was due to be lifted in a couple of days.
As of Friday, Canada had 30,670 coronavirus cases and 1,251 deaths. About half of the victims are people in long-term care nursing homes.
The province of Quebec called the situation “dire” due to staff shortages in the homes and Trudeau said he is sending in 125 military with medical training to work in the nursing homes after Quebec Premier Francois Legault asked for federal help earlier this week.
“The uncomfortable and tragic truth is that the very places that care for our elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Trudeau said.
Since introducing the Canadian Emergency Relief Fund in late March more than five million Canadians have applied for and are receiving $2,000 a month because they lost jobs or had incomes reduced due to the pandemic. The money does not have to be paid back.
Trudeau also addressed the fact that Canada’s 338 elected Members of Parliament (MP) are not meeting in the House of Commons because of the pandemic.
“Right now on the books there is a rule that says that 338 MPs need to get on flights Sunday evening to come back to Ottawa on Monday morning as Parliament is supposed to resume,” Trudeau said. “That is obviously not a good idea, we are not in normal circumstances.”
To counter that, the prime minister said the government is working on setting up a virtual parliament.
The virtual sittings would allow Canadians to “continue to have their views represented and their concerns heard,” Trudeau said. ■