Coronavirus Updates Canada: Justin Trudeau Wants Sweeping New Powers, Reports say

The Liberals are expected to table legislation that allows them to make economic decisions quickly during the COVID-19 crisis, while Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to slash hydro rates.

by Anya Zoledziowski
Mar 24 2020, 3:25pm

MPs will congregate in Canada's House of Commons on Tuesday to vote on an $82-billion relief fund introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week. Photo by Justin Tang/CP

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

A select few Canadian MPs are going to temporarily recall Parliament on Tuesday to vote on an $82 billion funding package—introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week—that aims to lessen the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to Global News, the Liberals will also table legislation that would give Trudeau broad powers to change tax and government spending policies until December 2021.

The bill would allow Trudeau’s government to make economic decisions without parliamentary approval during the COVID-19 crisis.

The scheduled vote in the House of Commons follows a virtual meeting Trudeau had with Canada’s premiers late Monday to discuss the Emergency Act, legislation that gives Trudeau and his cabinet sweeping powers to issue orders, such as curfews, and fines or jail time for anyone who disobeys the orders.

Trudeau has voiced apprehension around invoking the act, but said “nothing is off the table,” especially if Canadians don’t comply with calls from public health ministers to maintain stringent social distancing.

The prime minister is expected to update Canadians at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

Non-essential businesses shuttered in Ontario

On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential businesses across the province to close, including bars, nightclubs, various shops, and dine-in restaurants.

The Ontario government released a statement late Monday that outlines which businesses are allowed to remain open. Businesses that keep Canada’s supply chain running—manufacturers, distributors, grocery stores—will remain open, as will publicly run liquor stores, pet stores, newspapers, financial institutions, research institutions, mining operations, healthcare and senior services, emergency services, and more.

Ford will offer more detail about the order on Tuesday, and according to the Globe and Mail, the premier will also announce slashed hydro rates for families, farmers, and small businesses.

COVID-19 cases top 2,000, 24 dead

As of Tuesday morning, Canada had more than 2,000 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, with more than 20 recorded deaths. Every province is affected and in a state of emergency. The Northwest Territories and Yukon both confirmed COVID-19 cases, prompting Nunavut—the sole region without a reported case—to limit travel in and out of the territory. Here is the breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Canada:

British Columbia: 472

Alberta: 301

Saskatchewan: 66

Manitoba: 20

Ontario: 503

Quebec: 628

Newfoundland and Labrador: 24

New Brunswick: 17

Nova Scotia: 41

Prince Edward Island: 3

Yukon: 2

Northwest Territories: 1

Nunavut: 0

There are nearly 350,000 COVID-19 cases globally, with about 15,000 deaths.

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