Parts of Canada already in second wave of Covid-19, says PM Trudeau

Public health authorities have already stated the resurgence was real but stopped short of describing it as a second wave. But Trudeau defined it as such.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on September 14.(Reuters file)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on September 14.(Reuters file)
Published on Sep 24, 2020 12:16 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Toronto | By Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is already evident in parts of the nation.

Public health authorities have already stated the resurgence was real but stopped short of describing it as a second wave. But Trudeau defined it as such. “In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.”

Trudeau’s 12-and-a-half minute long address, for which he sought airtime from all major networks in the country, came just hours after his government laid out its programme before Parliament in the Throne Speech delivered by the Governor General Julie Payette.

“I want to speak directly to you today because Canada is at a crossroads.” Trudeau said, explaining the reasoning behind the rare public broadcast.

His speech, given in English and French, painted a stark picture for Canadians.

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.” He pointed out that the numbers were “clear” as when Canada went into lockdown on March 13, there were 47 confirmed coronavirus cases, while on Tuesday, it recorded “well over 1,000.”

As the surge is being caused mainly by cases being reported within younger demographics suffering from “Covid fatigue”, Trudeau said, “It’s no time for a party.”

He said while Canadians can’t change the numbers being reported currently, they could change where the country is in October and into the winter. “It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas,” he said.

Canada has far more tools in its toolbox, the PM noted, and sought cooperation in wearing masks, taking precautions and using a tracking app released by the government.

Canada recorded 147,612 cases by Wednesday evening, including 1,085 for the day, an 80% rise over the past fortnight. It also tallied 10 fatalities to take the total death toll to 9,244, going into double digits after weeks.

Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, as the parliament reopened in Ottawa, the government presented its platform, which will form the basis of its legislative agenda for the session. Among these were extending welfare payments in a new form into at least mid-2021 as well as a similar tenure for a wage subsidy programme that can be availed by employers.

While the government has come under fire from the Opposition for taking on record debt and ballooning the deficit to new highs, it was clear Trudeau is looking at increased spending as a way out of the crisis. As it put in the Throne Speech, “The economic impact of Covid-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be shortlived. This is not the time for austerity.”

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