Jennifer O'Connell

Your member of parliament for


Jennifer O'Connell

Your member of parliament for



The Government of Canada’s Response to COVID-19

Dear Friends,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to update Canadians daily on the Government’s COVID-19 $82 billion Economic Response Plan.

Canadians need help during this challenging time. No one should worry about losing their job or about putting food on the table. That is why we are providing unprecedented relief and aid to support Canadians and businesses. 

Below are some of the highlights of our plan. You can read about all the measures by visiting

$27 billion in direct support to Canadians and businesses, including:

  • Emergency Care Benefit of up to $10 billion in income support to workers who must stay home and have no paid sick leave. (up to $900 bi-weekly)
  • Emergency Support Benefit of up to $5 billion in income support to workers who do not qualify for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • Temporary increase to the Canada Child Benefit to provide up to $2 billion in extra support for families. (boost of $300 per child)
  • Wage subsidy of up to 75% for small businesses to help them keep employees on payroll and help Canadians keep their jobs. This means that people will continue to be paid even though their employer has had to slow down or stop its operations because of COVID-19.
  • Special top-up payment to increase the GST credit to inject $5.5 billion into the economy. (~$400 for individuals & ~$600 for couples)
  • 6-month moratorium on student loan repayment.
  • Increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

$55 billion in tax deferrals:

  • Extension of the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1.
  • Deferral of payment of personal and business taxes until the end of August.
  • Canada-US Border Closing to Non-Essential Travel

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Canada and the United States are temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across the Canada-US border. Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. Essential travel will continue unimpeded. The Canadian and US governments recognize it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.

Protecting Yourself

Below is the latest information from public health officials about what we can do to protect ourselves from COVID-19 and some of the other steps taken by the Government of Canada to protect our health and economy from the virus.

Canada’s health system is ready to respond to cases of COVID-19, but it is important that individuals and communities plan, take preventative steps, and be prepared.

I encourage you to visit or call 1-833-784-4397 for regularly updated information about what we can do to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19.

Social Distancing

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, recommends Canadians practice social distancing – measures taken to minimize close contact with others, such as:

  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Reduce physical contact with others.
  • Avoid large crowds/gatherings.
  • Keep a distance of two (2) arms-length from others.
  • If possible, work from home. 

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

As we all pull together to limit the spread of COVID-19, please see important information below on self-monitoring, self-isolation, & isolation. This information will help you take key measures to help keep you, your family, and our communities safe.

Being Prepared

There are simple things that you can do in case you or someone in your household becomes ill. Below is a factsheet developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to help you do just that.

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms

In case you are experiencing flu-like illness, including fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, public health officials advise that you should:

  • Stay home to avoid spreading it to others. If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance.
  • Call ahead before you visit a health care professional or call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600. Tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions.

Travel Restrictions

As of March 18, 2020, Canada will, for air travel specifically:

  • Deny entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This measure carves out some designated exceptions including for aircrews, diplomats and immediate family members of Canadian citizens and at this time, US citizens.
  • Limit international passenger flight arrivals to four airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport.
  • Mandate air operators to prevent all travellers who present symptoms of COVID-19 to board a plane. This means that anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada.
  • Strengthen screening measures at airports, including stronger and more visible messaging, health screening at kiosks, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas and facilities at airports.

The travel restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade. We will continue to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada.

Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad

The Government strongly urges all Canadians to heed the following recommendations that:

  • All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
  • Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
  • All Canadian travellers returning to Canada self-isolate for 14 days upon entry, with exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people.
  • To help Canadians return home or cope with challenges they are facing while travelling, the Government has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, which will provide the option of an emergency loan of up to $5,000 for Canadians in need of emergency financial assistance to return home or cover basic needs while they work to return.

Canadians can apply for the emergency loan by:

  • Contacting the embassy of the country where they are located or call our Emergency Watch and Response Centre at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted when available) or send an e-mail to

Travel Guidance

The Government strongly urges all Canadians abroad to heed the recommendation to return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available. Health Canada is advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada and avoiding all travel on cruise ships until further notice. This includes cancelling or postponing vacations and unnecessary work travel outside of Canada.

Check the Pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice here: Register in the Registry of Canadians Abroad here to receive important updates:

Canadians requiring emergency consular assistance can call the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1-613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email

Additional steps taken by the Government of Canada

Below are some of the previous steps taken to protect Canadians from the health, economic and social impacts of the virus.

The government has created a $1 billion dollar COVID-19 Response Fund that includes:

  • $500M to support provinces and territories in their fight against COVID-19.
  • $275M to support vaccine and countermeasure research and development.
  • $50M to ensure frontline healthcare workers have the personal protective equipment they need to remain safe.
  • Air and cruise ship travel
  • Additional screening measures have been put in place at all international airports, as well as land border, ferry, and rail ports of entry.
  • Canada will delay the start of the cruise ship season in Canada from April 2 to June 30, at the earliest. Cruise ships will not be able to dock at Canadian ports.

Protecting our economy

We are also taking significant steps to stabilize our economy, support businesses, and protect Canadians during this difficult time.

As part of the first steps, we have:

  • Eliminated the 1-week waiting period to access Sickness Benefits under EI for those in quarantine and enhanced the Work-Sharing program to avoid layoffs at the businesses experiencing a slowdown due to the virus.
  • Activated the Business Credit Availability Program, making up to $10 billion available to businesses facing a cash crunch over the short term.
  • The Bank of Canada will provide additional support for small-and medium-sized businesses, as well as adding additional liquidity to the market.
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institution is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer requirement, releasing more than $300 billion of additional lending capacity for financial institutions.
  • Canada’s banks have also made a commitment to support businesses and individuals through these difficult times in a responsible, fair and compassionate way.

Canada has one of the strongest and most resilient banking sectors in the world, and our Government is in a strong fiscal position to respond.

Canada is among the best-prepared countries in the world to respond to the situation we’re facing, and we will get through what comes next together.

Let us also thank and express our gratitude to all those working on the front lines in hospitals and health care centres across the country keeping us safe and healthy. 

Please take care of yourself, your family and your friends.


Jennifer O’Connell

Member of Parliament, Pickering-Uxbridge