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Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation as many parts of the country enter a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge as many parts of the country enter a second wave.

And it’s likely Thanksgiving gatherings will be out of the question as cases spike across the country following the recent lifting of many social restrictions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to their social bubbles, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from other people as the country faces down a looming second wave of the virus that has already claimed 9,238 lives.

Read more: Trudeau dangles national childcare system in throne speech with few hints of fiscal restraint

In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Wednesday evening, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.

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In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.

“The numbers are clear — back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000,” Trudeau said.

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces' Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces

 

“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s — those were already decided by what we did, or didn’t do, two weeks ago,” he continued.

“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.

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“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again' Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again

 

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The televised address pre-empted regularly scheduled programming on all major networks in a rare move that was billed by the Prime Minister’s Office as an opportunity to “address Canadians directly on the urgency of fighting COVID-19 as we face down the prospect of a second wave of the virus.”

But the address — both from Trudeau and from the opposition leaders who also spoke — took on an openly political tone and touting political agenda items in the government’s throne speech.

READ MORE: More than half of Canadians think coronavirus deficit too big but split on election need

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Trudeau doubled down on a pledge to keep spending even as more than half of Canadians report concern about the size of the federal deficit, currently at $343 billion from emergency spending.

He also pointed to government commitments to build towards a national pharmacare program and highlighting the government’s pledge to go further with climate change action.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians' Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians
Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians

 

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took a highly partisan approach in his speech, which was recorded from the driveway of his home where O’Toole and his wife are in isolation after contracting the virus.

“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead,” O’Toole said before criticizing the government.
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“We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage,” he continued.
“Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes, and too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided.”
Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response' Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response
Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation, also recorded an address.

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Blanchet spoke in French and stressed his party will not support the government’s throne speech because it does not do enough to support Quebec.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke and said he understands that many Canadians are feeling worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their lives and their futures.

“I know that you’re worried,” he said. “And, I know you’re seeing the numbers rising and you’re worried about a second wave. I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”
Click to play video 'Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed' Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed
Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed

He said the party plans to push the government to make concrete policy changes including creating a national sick leave and making sure those transitioning off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a new model of Employment Insurance can maintain the same level of benefit payment.

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Singh has not yet said whether he will support the throne speech.

The Trudeau Liberals need the support of at least one other party to remain in power when they put the throne speech to a vote and both the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have ruled out voting in favour.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “disappointed” by the speech.

“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening.

-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson