Coronavirus Updates Canada: Justin Trudeau Announces $9B for Students

Trudeau announces the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and 76,000 jobs for students; COVID-19 deaths near 2,000; Toronto collecting race-based data; person dead in Alberta after a meat plant was inspected via video.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will likely announce more aid for students on Wednesday. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick (CP)

Updated at 11:30 a.m. (EDT): Students worried about losing income and job experience this summer will now get some much-needed financial aid from the Canadian government’s new $9 billion funding package.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit on Wednesday, which will pay students $1,250 per month from May until August.

Students who are caring for someone else or have a disability will receive $1,750 per month.


Current students, people starting school in September, and graduates from December 2019 will be eligible for the aid. Students making $1,000 or less per month are also eligible.

Payments will be retroactive starting May 1.

Trudeau said the government will also create 76,000 student jobs in sectors that need urgent help or are contributing directly to pandemic relief. Students who opt to volunteer will get between $1,000 and $5,000 for their service through the new Canada Emergency Service Grant.

Payouts will depend on the number of volunteer hours.

Trudeau added that money will specifically go towards First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students as well, and his government will double the available government-funded university grants for the 2020 to 2021 school year.

Deaths near 2,000, as provinces talk about reopening

Cases of and deaths from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to climb in Canada, even as provinces and cities across the country talk about gradually reopening their economies.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 38,422 COVID-19 cases and 1,834 deaths. More than 1,000 deaths are in Quebec alone.

According to Canada’s top doctor, the country has avoided an “explosive outbreak,” but pandemic controls need to remain in place.

“Canadians have demonstrated what has worked to slow the spread of this disease, and that has kept our health system from being overwhelmed,” Dr. Theresa Tam said on Tuesday.


Even though there has been good coronavirus news in Canada, Tam said it’s not a reason to ease physical distancing, but rather, a reason to maintain it.

Ontario, the province with the second highest numbers of cases (11,735) and deaths (622) has already said it’s going to put together a plan to slowly reopen businesses. There were 551 new cases of the virus in Ontario on Tuesday alone, and Toronto said a second wave of the virus is likely.

“This depends in part on our ability as a community to remain diligent in following the public health and physical distancing measures we have put in place,” said Toronto’s chief medical doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa.

Elsewhere, public health officials are also pushing back against desires to loosen physical distancing.

Despite a slowdown in new cases, Alberta’s top public health official, Dr. Deena Henshaw said a coronavirus “tidal wave” still looms large.

Alberta reported 187 new virus cases on Tuesday, bringing the province-wide total to 3,095.

“The virus is still with us, and we need to continue to take it very seriously, even as we start to think about reopening again,” Hinshaw said, adding that public health measures will be in place for “many months to come.”

Saskatchewan and British Columbia have also confirmed that the gradual easing of public health measures is being discussed.

Toronto collecting race-based COVID-19 data

Toronto will start collecting race- and income-based COVID-19 data, so that it can assess whether some communities and groups are being hit harder by the disease, the Toronto Star reported.

The news follows several reports in the U.S. that highlight the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 among Black communities when compared with white ones.


When asked earlier this month if Ontario would collect race-based data, Ontario chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, said that kind of tracking wasn’t necessary.

Person dead after Alberta inspected a COVID-19 outbreak via video call

A southern Alberta meat-packing plant run by Cargill Ltd. was forced to shut down on Monday following a COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in one worker death.

It’s the first major closure affecting Canada’s supply chain, Trudeau said on Tuesday.

The union representing Cargill workers reported 38 cases on April 12. Alberta Health conducted an inspection via video conference following the news and concluded the plant was safe to remain open, CBC News reported.

A union representative who represents Cargill workers told CBC the slaughterhouse’s closure came too late.

There are at least 515 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the facility.

A chicken processing plant in British Columbia reported its own outbreak—yet another snag in the country’s supply chain.

Twenty-eight workers at Vancouver’s United Poultry plant have tested positive for the virus, forcing the facility to shut down.

Other processing plants owned by the same company are going to be inspected.

Air Canada suspending all U.S. flights

Canada’s biggest airline is going to temporarily suspend all flights to the U.S. from April 27 until May 22.

The move follows the decision by Canadian and U.S. officials to maintain the ongoing border closure by an additional 30 days after it was set to expire on Tuesday.


When border restrictions were first announced on March 21, Air Canada scaled back flights in and out of the U.S., only offering limited service to 11 U.S. destinations.

The last scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to Canada is on April 26.

Cases, deaths in Canada

As of Wednesday morning, Canada had 38,422 confirmed or presumed COVID-19 cases and 1,834 deaths.

Here’s a breakdown of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases across the country:

British Columbia: 1,724

Alberta: 3,095

Saskatchewan: 320

Manitoba: 255

Ontario: 11,735

Quebec: 20,126

Newfoundland and Labrador: 257

New Brunswick: 118

Nova Scotia: 737

Prince Edward Island: 26

Yukon: 11

Northwest Territories: 5

Nunavut: 0

Late Tuesday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 neared 2.4 million, with more than 162,000 deaths.

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