Canada's Trudeau wants to recall MPs to back massive coronavirus aid package

  • World
  • Thursday, 02 Apr 2020

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Cottage as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday he wanted to recall Parliament so legislators could approve a massive aid package he called "the biggest economic measures of our lifetimes".

Trudeau's Liberal government has already unveiled a number of steps worth more than C$100 billion ($70.3 billion) and that price tag is set to rise later in the day when officials give details about an expanded package to help people and businesses.

Although the House of Commons was suspended last month after approving a deal to give Ottawa broad spending powers for six months, Trudeau said Parliamentarians needed to have their say.

"This is the largest economic program in Canada's history, so I've asked (officials) ... to reach out to the other parties about bringing back Parliament. This must be a Team Canada effort," he told a daily briefing outside his Ottawa residence.

"Governments of all orders ... are stepping up to fulfill their responsibilities to Canadians. Canada hasn't seen this type of civic mobilization since the Second World War," he said. "We all have to answer the call of duty."

The number of deaths jumped to 105 from 89 on Tuesday with confirmed cases rising to 9,017 from 7,708, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Trudeau, pressed repeatedly about complaints from some medical professionals about a lack of protective equipment, said "we are expecting to see some shipments coming in very shortly that will help" but gave no details.

In Toronto, Canada's largest city, mayor John Tory said "numbers are presently heading in the wrong direction" and announced that an existing partial shutdown of the city would be tightened for 12 weeks.

Trudeau again urged Canadians to stay home as much as possible saying they might need to self-isolate for months to come.

Andrew Scheer, leader of the official opposition Conservative Party, accused Trudeau of being too slow to react.

"What Canada needs is clarity and leadership but what we've seen from the Trudeau government is confusion and repeated delays," he told reporters.

($1=1.4231 Canadian dollars)

(Additional reporting by Denise Paglinawan in Toronto)

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