COVID-19 Cases

Canada's death toll for coronavirus goes above 5,000, Trudeau wants care reform for seniors


The death toll of Canada's coronavirus passed the 5,000 mark on Tuesday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said major reforms were needed in residences for senior citizens, where more than 80 percent of victims lived.

The public health agency said that the number of deaths edged from 4,906 on Monday by 2.9 per cent to 5,049, one of the smallest daily gains so far. Canada is the 11th nation to record over 5,000 deaths as a result of the outbreak.

Long-term care homes were particularly hard hit in Ontario and Quebec-the two most populous of the 10 provinces. Officials in some residences have detailed poor conditions, where employees earn just the minimum wage.

"In long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the country, we have seen heart-breaking tragedies-overworked staff, understaffed residences, grieving families," Trudeau said in a daily briefing.

"These facilities face serious underlying challenges and the federal government will be there to help the provinces find lasting solutions in the coming months."

Officials previously announced that Ottawa would provide a one-time payment for seniors living on a fixed income ranging from C$ 300 ($215) to C$ 500 to deal with increased costs associated with the outbreak.

Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the tax-free payments would assist seniors who need money for food supplies and other services. It will also help the taxi-takers avoid using public transport.

She side-stepped questions on whether Ottawa should call for a national inquiry into the homes of seniors.

"What we are experiencing is unprecedented and unacceptable in Canada," she told a briefing.

"There will be time to reflect on the lessons we have learnt and the work that needs to be done. But right now (we are) focused on tackling the problem at hand.

The total payment value-that will help 6.7 million people-is C$ 2.5 billion. Ottawa has already committed more than C$ 160 billion in direct spending-more than 7 percent of gross domestic product-on a variety of programs to help businesses and people deal with the outbreak.

Ottawa focused on short-term measures to help people "so we can get out of the other side and restart the economy soon, and we won't need to look at what we might need to do in six months if we're still, heaven forbidden, all locked up," Trudeau said, adding that programs would be extended if needed.

Article Edited by | John Heine |

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