Justin Trudeau announces $1-billion Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund

$275 million will go to research and vaccine development.

Franz Mahr for World Bank/Flickr

Franz Mahr for World Bank/Flickr

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of a $1.1 billion package to fund the response to the COVID-19 coronavirus during a press conference on Wednesday.

The funding will help health care systems in each province manage the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The package includes $275 million for medical research and vaccine development and $500 for health transfers to provinces and territories.

Another $50 million will go toward aiding the global fight to contain the disease. Investing in global efforts that work to secure health systems for all is the best way to contain and treat outbreaks around the world.

The plan will also waive the one-week waiting period to apply for insurance and alter the rules of the work-share program, which is designed to help employees avoid layoffs.

The government is still trying to determine how to potentially support workers without employment insurance, which provides temporary financial assistance to those who have recently lost their jobs.

While confirmed cases of community transmission of the coronavirus have been low, the illness continues to spread. There were 102 cases in Canada as of Wednesday. So far, only one person in the country has died.

“The reality is that the number of people affected by the virus around the globe keeps climbing. Canada has been fortunate so far ... I know that people across the country are worried,” Trudeau said during the press conference, Global News reported. “We’re pulling out all the stops to make sure Canadians are safe and protected.”

Trudeau also said that containing the spread of the virus will rely on individual and collective behaviour, noting that there have been so few cases in Canada so far due to the country having “appropriate measures” in place — handwashing, social distancing, and working from home when sick.

As the coronavirus outbreak in Canada evolves, preparedness at all stages will be crucial to containing the spread of the disease.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that Canada is ready for all scenarios and we take that responsibility extremely seriously,” Trudeau said.