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Canada shifts focus in upcoming throne speech to deal with potential second wave of COVID-19

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 10:09 am MST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the first day of a Liberal cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Monday September 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

PM, cabinet wrap up two-day retreat on Wednesday

Government shifting focus in upcoming throne speech to dealing with potential second wave of COVID-19

Shift in focus comes as number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Canada

OTTAWA – The priorities for the Trudeau government have shifted as a result of rising COVID-19 cases across the country.

This comes as the federal cabinet retreat wraps up on Wednesday. The ambitious plan for economic recovery has been put on the back burner at this retreat as ministers try to figure out the best way to deal with a potential second wave of COVID-19.

The aim is to prevent a major surge and another shutdown of the economy, likely indicating a change in focus for next week’s throne speech.

However, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains says that doesn’t mean the government is ignoring the economy, and that ministers will be putting forward ideas to try and spark more job creation.

“We need unique, tailored solutions to help the workers and these communities and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in the near future,” he said on Wednesday.

Other ministers point out you can’t have an economic recovery unless you keep Canadians safe through the fall.

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The president of the treasury board says the government will be there to support Canadians and keep them safe but would not say if the government has a ceiling for its already-record deficit.

“The objective is never to hit that ceiling. It’s to make sure that we don’t have to get there, and we will not get there if, as I said, we protect the integrity of our nation — both from the social and economic perspective,” Minister Jean-Yves Duclos explained.

Meanwhile, Minister for Economic Development Melanie Joly says both the economy and keeping Canadians safe go hand in hand.

“There’s a strong link between the health of our economy and the health of Canadians. And what Canadians expect of us right now is definitely that we’re in charge of dealing with a pandemic with provinces and territories,” she said.

The prime minister is expected to speak later today.