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Coronavirus: Trudeau announces $130 million to help Canada’s northern communities

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises $130M in COVID-19 aid for vulnerable northern communities' Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises $130M in COVID-19 aid for vulnerable northern communities
WATCH: Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau promises $130M in COVID-19 aid for vulnerable northern communities

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday the federal government is spending $130 million to help the country’s northern communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said $72.6 million of the money would go towards health services and community preparedness within the country’s three territories.

Trudeau added Canadians living in the Arctic, for example, may not have the space, nor the same access to resources to fight against the virus as residents living in more populous provinces.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Travellers need ‘credible quarantine plan,’ may be forced to stay in hotel, Trudeau says' Coronavirus outbreak: Travellers need ‘credible quarantine plan,’ may be forced to stay in hotel, Trudeau says
Coronavirus outbreak: Travellers need ‘credible quarantine plan,’ may be forced to stay in hotel, Trudeau says

“If you live in the north, chances are you’re worried about whether your local health centre has the resources to fight COVID-19 and to cope with cases that might come up,” he said.

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“These are tough times, but we’re going to help you through them to set your community up to come back strong when things get better.”

Trudeau also said that as of midnight, anyone entering Canada will be asked if they have a “credible quarantine plan.” If they don’t, they’ll be forced to stay in a hotel.

READ MORE: Travellers need ‘credible quarantine plan,’ may be forced to stay in hotel: Trudeau

Whether or not they have symptoms, any returning Canadians who can’t explain their plan, or whose plan is deemed inadequate, will be forced to quarantine at a designated location, such as a hotel.

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“We now have the authority to require them to self-isolate for two weeks at a quarantine location like a hotel,” he said.

During the news conference, the prime minister lauded the government’s procurement of an additional 1.1 million N95 masks, as well as rapid, portable COVID-19 tests developed by a Canadian company that recently scored approval from Health Canada.

The government said last month that it was working with Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience to procure a supply of the test kits, which can reportedly provide results in less than an hour.

Click to play video 'Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19' Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19
Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19

The rapid test uses a coffee-cup-sized portable DNA analyzer — the Spartan Cube — as well as test cartridges and swabs. Spartan Bioscience said this allows the test to be administered by “non-laboratory personnel” in places like airports or pharmacies, or remote regions of the country.

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In a statement on Sunday, the company said the Health Canada approval meant the test kits can now start heading out the door to “federal and provincial government partners starting immediately.”

Despite the United States’ goal to reopen the country’s economy in May, Trudeau gave no exact date or plan to reopen the Canadian economy.

“We recognize that it is going to be important to get our economy going and that we will have to do it in phases,” he said. “The reality is it is going to be weeks still.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus coverup is ‘China’s Chernobyl moment,’ warn 100 politicians, experts

“We will have to remain vigilant until such a point as a vaccine against COVID-19 is found.”

In response to a question about the federal government’s plan to help residents in long-term care homes, the prime minister urged provinces to enforce the new guidelines released by the federal government but said: “We know we need to do more.”

“We recognize the terrible and tragic stories that have come out of seniors residences and long term care facilities across this country, and our hearts go out to families who have lost loved ones in some terrible ways,” said Trudeau.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says it will be ‘weeks still’ until government will consider re-opening Canadian economy' Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says it will be ‘weeks still’ until government will consider re-opening Canadian economy
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says it will be ‘weeks still’ until government will consider re-opening Canadian economy

The prime minister came under fire for his cottage trip to Harrington Lake, Que., over the weekend, despite pleas from provincial governments to avoid them.

When asked why an exception was made for him, he said he’d announced last week he was going to visit his family, who were already staying there.

“My family has been living there for three weeks. This is where my wife and my children live,” he said.

— With a file from Maryam Shah