The health and safety of all Canadians outside and those in Canada remain our top priority. Coronavirus is now shortened to COVID-19. Attached are some posters in English and Chinese which may be helpful for stakeholders and community partners to post. While this update is admitted long, I feel it contains a lot of useful information.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and their teams have been working hard to ensure our health systems are prepared to assist Canadians at home and those returning to Canada. Thank you for working around the clock. It is a huge undertaking involving not just other ministries but also the collaboration of other levels of government both at home and internationally. We continue to work closely with the World Health Organization as part of the global effort to reduce the spread of this virus.
Over the past weeks, I have received many questions and concerns regarding COVID-19. My office and I have been actively working to answer these questions and in assisting constituents and their family members overseas. While the risk Canada’s public health remains low, it is essential that Canadians are informed of the facts.
Federal government resources include:
- ca/coronavirus page is being updated on a regular basis. Current situation updates, consular links, frequently asked questions, downloading of posters are available in English, French, and now in Simplified Chinese.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada has (PHAC) a toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) for callers across the country with live agents are ready to answer questions. Service is available in English and French every day from 7 am to midnight. You can also email them at email@example.com. My office staff can answer calls or emails in Cantonese and Mandarin.
- Follow Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Twitter at @CPHO_Canada.
As of February 16, 2020, 8 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. There has been 5 confirmed cases in British Columbia and 3 confirmed cases in Ontario. Canada’s first confirmed case of coronavirus was discharged from a hospital in Toronto on January 31, 2020. Both the patient and his wife have recovered but and will remain in isolation. The third case in London recovered in three days and was cleared this past Wednesday.
On February 11, 2020, Canada’s second chartered plane arrived at CFB Trenton and repatriated 130 Canadians and 58 accompanying family members. They join the 213 Canadians who returned from Wuhan on the first Canadian chartered flight and a U.S. flight that landed in Canada last week. This was the last planned flight from Wuhan. Canadians in China outside of Hubei province whose presence is non-essential should consider leaving while commercial means are available. Consular officials remain in contact with Canadians in China who have requested assistance.
The Government of Canada has also chartered a plane to repatriate Canadians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. They will be assessed at CFB Trenton and will then undergo a 14-day quarantine at the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario.
There are 279 Canadians reported to be on board the MS Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. At this time, there is one passenger reported to have tested positive for the virus. Canadian health officials are asking passengers who are returning to Canada to isolate themselves for 14 days after they return and to report to local public health authorities within 24 hours to be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19.
For more information on affected cruises and for cruise-specific travel advice, visit the Diamond Princess quarantine and coronavirus-affected cruises web page.
- Canadians anywhere outside of Canada can also call the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I have personally called this line at 3:00 am and can confirm you will reach a live person. If Canadians overseas are unable to establish contact with these numbers, they can contact their local Member of Parliament.
- In China, Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. If unavailable, contact the above Emergency Watch line.
The government has increased staff providing consular services and support in China, on the ground, and full services remain available. There is a call centre staffed with over 50 people receiving calls on a 24/7 basis.
- We encourage Canadians travelling to consult our Travel Advice and Advisories and Travel Health Notices and register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration.
- If you have travelled to Hubei province in the last 14 days, limit your contact with others for a total of 14 days from the date that you left Hubei. This means self-isolate and stay at home. It is also recommended that Canadians avoid all travel to the province of Hubei, including the cities of Ezhou, Wuhan, and Huanggang.
- Air Canada is extending the suspension of its flights between Canada and Beijing and Shanghai from February 1, 2020, until March 27, 2020. From March 1 until March 27, 2020, Air Canada will temporarily suspend its daily non-stop Toronto-Hong Kong flights, reflecting reduced market demand. Flights to and from Taipei remain unaffected.
Air Canada will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada, and Global Affairs, and will adjust its schedule as appropriate.
- Canadian Visa Application Centres across China will remain closed until further notice. For non-biometrics applications, customers can submit mail-in applications. For further updates, please visit our website.
Enhanced screening measures have been implemented at 10 Canadian airports to:
- identify any travellers returning to Canada who may be ill; and
- raise awareness among travellers about what they should do if they become sick.
Any travellers coming to Canada who may have been in the province of Hubei would typically enter Canada through 1 of 3 international airports: Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal.
Travellers going through these airports will see additional signage in French, English and Simplified Chinese, asking them to alert a border services officer should they have any flu-like symptoms.
Travellers will need to respond to a screening question that has been added to electronic kiosks for all international travellers at these airports. This question is available in 15 different languages.
Travellers who do not show signs or symptoms of illness will receive a handout advising them to follow up with their health care provider and provide their symptoms, travel history, and any high-risk exposure history (such as contact with animals or close contact with a sick person) if they develop symptoms.
These measures complement routine traveller screening procedures already in place to prepare for, detect and respond to the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada. In general, when a traveller shows signs of an infectious disease upon arrival in Canada, border services officers or airport and airline staff contact a PHAC quarantine officer. The quarantine officer then performs a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the quarantine officer will address the potential public health risk, such as:
- ordering the traveller to be transported to the hospital to undergo a medical examination; or
- reporting to the local public health authority.
Last Tuesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu toured Toronto Pearson International Airport. From there, she met with the frontline workers of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency and saw firsthand the enhanced screening measures in place at our ports of entry. There are now 14 additional public health officers among the three international airports in Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal. If there are concerns, travellers are referred to a Public Health officer who will take them aside and perform a temperature scan and further assessments. If necessary, a Quarantine officer will be contacted and is available 24/7. At the Toronto Pearson International Airport, there are 20 new information officers from Public Health to be on-site to assist arriving international travellers with any questions.
These measures are working as the risk of spread remains low.
We are also closely monitoring global economic developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including impacts on trade. The direct economic impact so far on Canada’s economy is minimal as the virus has mostly only affected China and neighbouring countries. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has stated: “there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade.”
Any businesses experiencing import/export-related issues, please email your regional trade commissioner’s office at Ontario.TCS-SDC@international.gc.ca.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has stated publicly that there will be some economic impact, but we cannot know for certain at the moment. Some of the impacts will be felt across Canada from declining tourism, dropping of oil prices, to supply chain challenges. The government is listening to businesses and monitoring any potential impacts as the situation evolves.
Businesses have indicated some concerns relating to short-term loans for rental, utilities and salary expenses. While some businesses have reduced business, and a few companies have reduced hours, they have not laid off any workers. There are signs that things are slowly getting better. The more people are aware of the facts, the more they will return to shopping and eating at restaurants more frequently. There have been campaigns such as Asialicious and initiatives by the Confederation of Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association to support local businesses by generating demand and interest with contests and restaurant promotions.
In Markham- Thornhill
Over the past month, I have visited local stores and restaurants to show my support to the business-owners and people in our community, and I encourage to do the same. So, Markham-Thornhill, let’s continue to be an example for communities across the country. Let’s continue to come together in moments like this, supporting one another, and stay hopeful about the future.
Our Canadian Businesses are at the heart of our communities & the backbone of our national economy.
Met with the incredible Tina Lee today – CEO of T&T and member of Canada -US Council Advancement of Women in Business– about the importance of supporting local businesses in the Chinese-Canadian community.
I had a wonderful time stopping by the Pacific Mall to support some local businesses and restaurants, as we combat discrimination and misinformation around coronavirus. I encourage everyone to do the same in their communities!
Discrimination rooted in misinformation and fear around #COVID19 has been tough on many over the past weeks — but we continue to see our community come together just like Canadians always do!
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Canada doing to support the global response to COVID-19?
- To support China’s ongoing response to the outbreak, Canada has deployed approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves to the country since February 4, 2020. This equipment has been provided in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross and the Red Cross Society of China.
Part of the 16-tonnes of supplies deployed to China
- The federal government has also agreed to provide $2 million to the World Health Organization to help vulnerable countries prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak beyond China.
- Renowned Canadian epidemiologist and emergencies expert, Dr. Bruce Aylward, is leading the WHO international expert mission in China to investigate the COVID-19. He has almost 30 years of dealing with infectious diseases like Ebola, Zika and polio.
- The Government of Canada launched a rapid research response to contribute to global efforts to contain COVID-19. The $6.75 million in research funding is aligned with the priorities of international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). This is a collaboration between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). It is hoped that the grants will be in place before the end of February and that the researchers will be able to meet and work collaboratively with our international partners.
- Why hasn’t Canada declared a public health emergency?
While the World Health Organization has called the COVID-19 a global health emergency, here in Canada, we have processes and measures in place different than other countries such as the United States. For example, we do not need to call a public health emergency here because we already have the structures, the systems, and the authorities to spend appropriate dollars necessary to respond, treat, and maintain our public health systems.
- Why isn’t Canada implementing a travel ban and quarantining those coming from China?
Travel bans and the closing of borders is an extreme measure that is not effective in preventing the spread of the virus nor is it conducive in the context of working with international partners in developing a vaccine. It discourages countries from being transparent about their own outbreaks and could diminish a country’s willingness to share data. There should be an international focus on increasing collaboration and the preparedness of public health providers. Also, it will be difficult for researchers to travel and present samples if their country has banned travel.
Borders cannot stop infectious diseases and the closing of borders increases stigmatization and discrimination around the world. Banning travellers from one particular country is also ineffective as they can travel through multiple countries before arriving in Canada.
- How do you talk to children about the Coronavirus?
I would encourage a calm and open discussion about any fears and misconceptions that they may have heard and provide answers that are factually based. It is also a good opportunity to discuss and practice proper precautions they can take to prevent respiratory illnesses like frequent handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds and sneezing in their elbows.
- Should the general population in Canada wear masks to protect themselves from this virus?
If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not necessary.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms of an illness that spreads through the air, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the infection to others. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading around you when you cough or sneeze. Your health provider may recommend you wear a mask while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures put in place so that people with an infectious respiratory illness do not transmit the infection to others.
If you are caring for a sick person or you are in direct contact with an ill person, wearing a mask can help protect you from catching the virus, but it will not fully eliminate the risk of illness.
When wearing a mask, make sure to:
- properly cover your mouth and nose
- avoid touching the mask once it’s on your face
- properly discard the mask after each use
- wash your hands after removing the mask
Masks are not recommended for healthy people OR people who have not travelled to a COVID-19 affected area (e.g. Hubei Province). Wearing a mask when you are not ill and are not at high risk for developing symptoms may give a false sense of security. Masks can easily become contaminated and need to be changed frequently and fitted properly for them to provide adequate protection.
You can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:
- washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and not your hands
- staying home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others
- Can the COVID-19 be spread on airplane armrests, packages, and chairs?
In general, because of poor survivability of the coronaviruses on surfaces, this is considered to be a very low risk of spread.
- What can we do to fight back against the misinformation and the anxiety raising on social media or in the community?
First and foremost, we want to reassure Canadians that we are being proactive and have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in Canada. It is important to seek out and present evidence-based information, actual facts, and state that the spread of risk is low in Ontario, in Canada. Social media, while it allows for information to be communicated quickly, can be inaccurate. Use information from only reliable sources such as all levels of Canadian government, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, and the World Health. Our measures are working. The very low case numbers speak for itself.
As this situation rolls out globally, and in Canada, I encourage you to seek out information from credible sources and continue to support local businesses in Scarborough—Agincourt and in the GTA. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available. I was heartened to hear that evacuees at CFB Trenton released an open letter to appreciate the efforts made by the Government of Canada and during their stay, they have raised more than $33,905 for the Canadian Red Cross.
I hope that a stop to this virus will be discovered soon. If you have concerns, please do reach out to my office.
Hon. Mary Ng
Member of Parliament