How to parent when you're in quarantine. Your COVID-19 questions answered

We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. You can send us your questions via email at and we'll answer as many as we can. We publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we're also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and CBC News Network.

From parenting in self-isolation to homemade masks, here's what you're asking us today

Parenting during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is already hard enough. It may become even harder if you're in quarantine. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The information in this article was current at the time of publishing, but guidelines and advice can change quickly. Check with your local public health unit for the most-current guidance, and find the latest COVID-19 news on our website.

We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. You can send us your questions via email at and we'll answer as many as we can. We'll publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we're also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and CBC News Network

So far we've received thousands of emails from all corners of the country, including a number of questions about homemade masks and parenting while in quarantine, like this question from Lily P. 

How do you be an effective mom when you're in quarantine?

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are receiving a lot of questions from parents, including Ontario mother, Lily P., who is self-isolating on her own because she might have the virus.

Lily works in a grocery store and says she has a cough and chest congestion. Until she knows for sure, Lily is quarantined in an apartment, while her husband looks after their 2½-year-old son in another home.

WATCH | Ontario mom Lily P. asks what she can do to connect with her young son while quarantined away from him:

Lily P Question for CBC News

3 years ago
Duration 0:34
Lily P. is a mom who is self-isolating, and asked CBC News for help to explain what's happening to her young son.

Toronto-based cognitive behavioural counsellor Leanne Matlow says many of her clients are upset by the loss of control and not knowing what will come next in this crisis.

"It's OK to be angry, frustrated, scared, nervous, worried," she said in an interview with CBC's Ioanna Roumeliotis.

Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts recommends that Lily P. "bookend" her child's day by video-chatting with him in the morning and at night — and a little bit throughout the afternoon, if possible.

She advises children need a lot of distraction right now, which, in the case of a household with a sick parent, will fall on the parent caring for them. That might include extended bubble-bath time, finger-painting or playing with playdough.

"It's their responsibility right now to distract the child to the best of their ability," she said. "You just divert the child as best you can."

Read more tips for families dealing with anxiety and stress here.

What's the best way to make an effective homemade mask?

This week, Canada's public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, changed course on her initial advice on non-medical masks; she now says a homemade mask can add some extra protection for the broader public, particularly by stopping the spread of the virus by those who might have COVID-19 and not realize it.

So what do you need to know about homemade masks?

The World Health Organization also issued new recommendations, suggesting "for any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are effective and to avoid any increase in transmission."

WHO also recommends that masks cover the mouth and nose, and are tied securely to minimize any gaps between the face and fabric. It's important to avoid touching a mask while wearing it and to untie it from behind when taking it off.

Basically, you should "always handle the mask as if it's contaminated with the coronavirus," said respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta. 

WATCH | Dr. Samir Gupta discusses what you need to know when it comes to masks:

COVID-19: What you need to know before wearing a mask

3 years ago
Duration 2:30
Dr. Samir Gupta provides crucial information about wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic and what to think about before putting one on.

Michael Garron Hospital, in Toronto's east end, has put out a call for homemade masks, with DIY instructions, saying they'll be given to hospital visitors, discharged patients and the broader community to prevent virus transmission.

Health Canada also has additional recommendations when it comes to homemade masks here.

Where does all of this government stimulus money come from? 

We reached out to our business and parliamentary bureaus to answer this question, from Tim W. 

The short answer? Debt. "There is no secret pile of free money," said CBC News business reporter Pete Evans.

The multibillion-dollar COVID-19 emergency response package for Canadians and businesses is not money the government has on hand or in a giant savings account.

These are funds that will be added to the national debt, which is serviced by government bonds and treasury bills auctioned by the Bank of Canada and through other government borrowing.

"The federal government's deficit is likely going to grow by $100 billion or more for the current fiscal year," explained Chris Carter, a senior producer with CBC's parliamentary bureau.

COVID-19 support programs will likely increase next year's deficit as well, he said, especially since taxes and revenues will be declining drastically due to the economic slowdown brought on by the global COVID-19 crisis. 

The Bank of Canada also has a role to play in expanding the country's money supply, by making it easier for banks to loan money to businesses and individuals, which should stimulate spending.

"Ultimately, if these measures help support economic activity in Canada, then some of this money will come back to the government through tax revenue," said Carter. "But the legacy of COVID-19 will most certainly be a significantly higher national debt."

We're also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, one of your questions was, when will doctors find a cure? Watch below:

Kids ask doctors their COVID-19 questions

3 years ago
Duration 5:35
Kids have their chance to ask questions to our panel of doctors, including when will they find a cure for COVID-19?

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at On Tuesday, we answered questions about mosquitoes and physical distancing. Read those answers here.

With files from Saman Malik

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