Prime Minister Justin Trudeau updates the country on Canada’s COVID-19 response on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (CPAC)

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

There are no plans to call in Canada’s military to enforce quarantine or self-isolation measures amid COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday.

“The Canadian Armed Forces are there to help when Canada is in need,” the prime minister said (in French, through a translator) in Ottawa Sunday, during his now-daily press conference on the steps of Rideau Cottage.

“Right now we have not received any specific requests and there are no plans underway to have the army intervene.

Trudeau said Health Canada is following up with those being required to quarantine.

“It’s really important that we follow the rules. What we do today… will have a direct impact on whether or not Canada is able to make it through this crisis in the best possible way,” he said, urging Canadians to follow the measures laid out by health officials.

Trudeau himself said he will remain in isolation for two more weeks, even though his wife Sophie was recently given the all-clear from her COVID-19 diagnosis.

He says the couple took steps to remain apart, but staying at home for another two weeks is prudent because he was sharing a roof with someone who was ill. Trudeau said he will remain at Rideau Cottage while Sophie and their kids go to Harringston, a different prime ministerial residence.

The prime minister also unveiled funding for youth and seniors. He said Kids Help Phone will get $7.5 million and $9 million will go to the United Way to help seniors who may be especially isolated during this crisis.

United Way and Kids Help Phone were among a coalition of Canadian charities that asked for help last week, warning they were going to collapse as COVID-19 wreaked economic havoc on their donors and volunteers.

Much like private sector businesses, charities report having to lay off employees as grant programs are cancelled and donations dry up. The group says there are more than 1.4 million Canadians employed in the charitable sector, which accounts for eight per cent of Canada’s economic activity.

Trudeau said there will be additional help for charities announced in the coming days, but he also appealed to Canadians who are able to donate money or time.

“Not only are organizations in the charitable sector and the non-profit sector doing incredibly important work during difficult times, they’re also in many cases seeing their donations dry up and are very worried about their capacity to continue to do the work they’re doing,” he said.

The government already announced $157.5 million for homeless shelters and up to $50 million for women’s shelters as part of their massive federal aid package made public March 18, mainly to help the organizations buy protective gear for workers and find ways to keep clients isolated as necessary.

While details of the funding are expected this week, Families Minister Ahmed Hussen said Sunday $15 million in emergency funding has already gone out and is having an impact, allowing shelters to get hotel rooms for clients who need to be quarantined or isolated and to buy emergency supplies to protect frontline staff.

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid

More than one million people have applied for EI due to COVID-19. The federal government is working on rolling out the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, a $2,000 per month payment for workers affected by the crisis. The application portal for that benefit is expected to be available by April 6.

During the press conference, Trudeau was asked about communities that are preparing community centres and arenas to serve as make-shift hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

“Our healthcare systems are designed to function close to capacity in normal situations…. these are not regular times,” he said.

“It is appropriate and necessary that we look at how to expand our health system to handle unprecedented numbers.”

To reach out for help through the Kids Help Phone, you can text TALK to 686868, call 1-800-668-6868 or visit http://kidshelpphone.ca to be connected with help 24/7.

READ MORE: Federal doctor says COVID-19 battle will last ‘months, many months’ as cases soar

READ MORE: Canadians with COVID-19 symptoms to be denied boarding domestic flights, trains

– With files from The Canadian Press


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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