Trudeau pledges more help for vulnerable Canadians struggling with coronavirus crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday more help is on the way for vulnerable Canadians struggling with staying at home and accessing critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PM announces $7.5M for children, $9M for seniors in COVID-19 support

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is pledging millions to help Canadian youth and seniors whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more help is on the way for Canadian youth and seniors struggling with staying at home and accessing critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his daily address on Sunday, the prime minister first delivered a message to youth across the country, acknowledging for many Canadians "home isn't a safe place to be" and that for "many more, they have no place to go at all."

"You're watching the world … change radically. It's a source of anxiety. It's a source of tension. Maybe there's extra tension in your family," Trudeau said. 

The federal government has pledged $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to children and youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support and community resources.

The government will also boost aid for Canadian seniors, contributing $9 million through United Way Canada to help the country's older population get groceries, medication and other critical items.

The aid will also go toward assessing seniors' individual needs and connecting them to the necessary community resources. 

When asked whether seniors could expect to see any direct financial support, Trudeau said that the government's immediate priority is those who have lost sources of income entirely — but added that he was "looking carefully" at other measures to support Canada's older population.

WATCH | Trudeau speaks directly to Canadian youth:

'I know these past few weeks have been tough,' Trudeau says to Canada's kids

3 years ago
Duration 1:03
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to Canadian children and youth across the country Sunday, announcing more mental health supports for those struggling with isolation. 

"Our focus right away has been figuring out how to ensure that we can replace sources of income and revenue that have been lost because of COVID-19, for so many Canadians … who were relying on their paycheques to get through from week to week until this actually hit," Trudeau said. 

Support for charitable organizations unpacked

The new relief measures come on top of a previous commitment of $157.5 million to assist Canadians experiencing homelessness, as well as up to $50 million for women's shelters, sexual assault centres and similar facilities in Indigenous communities. 

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen revealed Sunday that over the past few days, the government had also "rushed out" an additional $15 million — funds left over from last year's federal budget — for local communities to distribute to shelters and centres under their jurisdiction. 

"The homeless population is already a community that faces significant health challenges," Hussen said during a news conference. "The COVID-19 crisis is threatening to exacerbate those challenges."

Hussen said the funding would also help non-profit and charitable organizations facing a drop in revenue and dwindling numbers of available volunteers.

He explained that the aid could go toward preventing and managing potential outbreaks, buying personal protective equipment, purchasing barriers to better achieve physical distancing or securing extra rooms in motels and hotels if needed.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, kids relocate to Quebec cottage

On the advice of doctors, Trudeau continues to work from home despite the conclusion of his 14-day period of self-isolation.

His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau — who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month following a trip to the United Kingdom — took to social media late Saturday to say she had received a clean bill of health. 

The prime minister said Sunday that he was "very happy" to receive the news. 

"It's been a few days since she's been symptom-free, and obviously I want to thank everyone who's sent messages of support."

WATCH | Trudeau updates Canadians on his family:

Trudeau: 'I'm very happy ... to see that Sophie has been given the all-clear'

3 years ago
Duration 0:46
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an update on his family Sunday after Sophie Grégoire Trudeau said she had received a clean bill of health.   

Trudeau said he will remain at the family's home in Ottawa while his wife and three children spend some time at the family's cottage retreat in Quebec.

"Up to a few days before she was clear, I was still sharing a roof — we were being careful — but sharing a roof with someone who'd tested positive for COVID-19. So I have to continue in isolation in order to be sure that we're following all protocols and the recommendations by Health Canada."

As for other Canadians trying to follow recommended guidelines, the prime minister underscored the public health agency's criteria about who gets a green light to go for walks in public.

"It's very simple," Trudeau said. "You can go for a walk unless you have … tested positive for COVID-19, unless you have symptoms of COVID-19 or unless you have returned from outside the country within 14 days."

Restrictions tightened on domestic travel

On Saturday, Trudeau announced that anyone hoping to board a plane or train between cities and provinces who exhibits symptoms of coronavirus will be barred from travel as of noon ET on Monday.

Personnel from air and rail companies will conduct health checks on passengers prior to boarding and can now prevent anyone showing signs of the illness from continuing on their journey. 

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that because interprovincial bus travel does not fall under federal jurisdiction, he would be working with provinces to recommend similar protocols for bus operators. 

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