May 27th Update from Federal and Provincial Governments

May 27, 2020

Originally published via ibewcco.org.

Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:

Below is the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer Federal help to the Provinces and Territories which are dealing with a crisis in their long term care homes during his weekly telephone call with the Premiers tomorrow to discuss developments in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Trudeau made the announcement at his daily briefing in Ottawa against the backdrop of two reports by the Canadian Armed Forces into the dangerous and unsanitary conditions they have found while assisting at long term facilities in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Under the constitution, health care — and with it long term care seniors residences — are a provincial responsibility. Trudeau was careful to repeatedly recognize the constitutional jurisdiction involved, while at the same time pledging Federal help. “We will offer help to the Provinces with their long term care homes while respecting the provincial jurisdiction”, he said. Ottawa will support the provinces to give patients in long term care and their families “the care and respect they deserve.” Both provinces have asked for the Armed Forces to be extended at the long term care homes.  So far, Ottawa has not replied, although it is expected that the requests will be granted
  • Reporters also asked Trudeau about the Government’s successful plan to limit sessions of the House of Commons to four days a week of sitting as a committee on the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of the NDP, the Commons passed a plan that will have some MPs present in the Chamber and others taking part online and appearing on large screens that have been installed for that purpose. The Conservatives voted against the proposal, wanting instead to have the Commons sit in regular sessions which would give MPs more scope to hold the Government to account. Trudeau said the arrangement reached would double the amount of time for questioning of the Government provided for under a previous arrangement agreed to in April. He said Parliament was “moving forward to uphold democratic principles.” He said that was important not “despite the pandemic, but because of the pandemic.”
  • He was also asked whether Canadians should have a chance to vote on the way the Government has responded to COVID-19. He said he  had not heard of many Canadians wanting an election, but since his Government was in a minority position it would be Parliament that decided when a vote would be held by voting non-confidence in the Government.
  • Trudeau also announced that 45 thousand summer jobs for students are now posted on the Federal Governments web site. Young people looking for summer work should consult the site. He also urged employers to sign up for Ottawa’s wage support program to keep employees on company payrolls until the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

Provincial: 

  • Today Ontario extended all emergency orders until June 9, 2020. These include closure of outdoor playgrounds, public swim facilities, on site bars/restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people among others. Ontario also extended emergency orders for consumer electricity pricing to May 31, 2020 and the related adjustment order for market participants and consumers until June 1, 2020.
  • The government also cleared the way for a number of regulated health professionals to resume operations if their associations allow.  The government has also lifted the ban on elective surgeries, and has set a process in place for hospitals to resume providing these procedures.
  • Long Term Care continued to dominate the provincial conversation today.  Ontario announced that the previously announced Independent Commission into long-term care will be expedited to commence in July, 2020. This move seems to be in response to the Canadian Armed Forces report on long term care released yesterday as well as by repeated calls from the media and opposition.  The Premier confirmed that he will testify before the commission.
  • The government also announced that the military will remain in place until June 12.
  • When asked if the Premier would consider firing his Minister of Long Term Care, the Premier stood by his Minister and defended both her qualifications and work ethic despite calls from Opposition MPPs for her removal.
  • Ontario also announced the widening of highway 17 from two to four lanes, with four new interchanges, between Arnprior to Renfrew and is requesting expressions of interest from qualified contractors. Construction is set to begin following contract award and environmental assessment.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario