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Coronavirus: Trudeau says House of Commons expected to reconvene for emergency measures

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The House of Commons is expected to briefly reconvene to handle emergency measures on the COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

“I have directed the House leader to engage with his counterparts to discuss a brief return of the House of Commons so that we can bring in emergency economic measures,” Trudeau told reporters while speaking from Rideau Cottage, where he is currently in self-isolation.

READ MORE: Ontario government declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

Trudeau said there are emergency economic measures that need to be passed by MPs. He added that the Emergency Measures Act will also be evaluated to ensure it fits the needs of the global pandemic.

“Co-ordination at all levels and between all parties is vital,” Trudeau said, noting that he hopes all political parties and provincial leaders work together.

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He said the cabinet COVID-19 committee is regularly updating premiers and opposition leaders on what the minority Liberal government is planning.

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“Yesterday, our regular calls with all parliamentarians began, which the Public Health Agency of Canada is moderating. Right now, we must all work together,” Trudeau said.

He added a major announcement on supporting the economy is coming Wednesday, and the government is planning changes to upcoming tax deadlines to provide more flexibility for businesses and taxpayers.

The prime minister also praised Ontario’s decision to declare a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.

“Ontario is taking the right steps to protect people and the health-care system,” he said.

Trudeau said these provincial measures ensure Canada has a co-ordinated approach between governments to curb cases of the new coronavirus.

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However, the prime minister played down the idea of invoking a national state of emergency, saying the government is looking at other ways to provide needed help for Canadians.

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Globally, there are more than 180,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 440 cases in Canada. Five deaths have also been reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency, calling the situation “unprecedented.”

“Right now, we need to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to avoid overwhelming our health-care system,” Ford said.

READ MORE: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to most foreign travellers amid coronavirus outbreak

He added, though, that the state of emergency does not mean a provincial shutdown.

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“The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital for day-to-day life, will not be affected by this order. Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and families,” he said.

Trudeau’s statement came one day after he announced Canada’s borders will be shut to most foreign travellers.

The restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, but exceptions will be made for aircrews, diplomats, immediate family members and U.S. citizens.

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Ontario government declares state of emergency amid coronavirus outbreak – Mar 17, 2020

Trudeau said air carriers will also ban anyone exhibiting symptoms of the virus from boarding a flight to Canada and that all international flights will be funnelled through only four Canadian airports.

Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Calgary International Airport will receive international flights.

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He also urged Canadians still abroad to return to Canada while commercial means remain available.

“Let me be clear: if you are abroad, it’s time for you to come home,” he said. “If you have just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days.”

— With files from the Canadian Press