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Ottawa helping guide, but not dictating, provincial reopening plans: Trudeau


April 27, 2020
By Lauren Krugel/The Canadian Press

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Starbucks said it typically closes about 100 company-operated stores each year in North America, mainly due to leases expiring. (Photo: Starbucks.ca)

With Canada’s two most populous provinces poised to outline plans for a gradual return to normalcy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Ottawa will help guide, but not dictate, how provinces and territories should start easing restrictions.

Ontario and Quebec together account for more than 80 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 cases.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to present a framework for reopening the province’s locked-down economy. Quebec Premier Francois Legault is to focus on schools, with economic plans expected Tuesday.

Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have already announced tentative reopening timelines.

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Trudeau said provincial and territorial plans don’t need Ottawa’s blessing, as most measures fall outside federal jurisdiction.

“They have the responsibility to do what is right for their citizens,” he said Monday.

“I have full confidence in the premiers of the provinces and the territories to move forward in a way that is right for them.”

Medical capacity

Trudeau said the federal government has been helping develop guidelines on matters such as ensuring provinces have enough medical capacity to handle a potential surge in cases and are doing enough testing.

“These will not be federal guidelines,” he said. Rather, he and all 13 premiers would agree to them.

Return to normal a long way off

Trudeau cautioned that a complete return to normal is a long way off and governments will have to be careful until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 or treatment to make it less deadly.

“That caution will remain, because at any time, if we loosen our measures too much, we could find ourselves back in a tremendous spike.”

As of mid-day Monday, there were 47,346 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Canada, including 2,617 deaths and 17,929 resolved.