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Two Red Cross teddy bears sit on a table as CFB Trenton prepares for the arrival of quarantined Canadians in Trenton, Ont., on Feb. 6, 2020.

ALEX FILIPE/Reuters

The federal government has announced a $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund for charities and non-profits that are helping vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the funding Tuesday during his daily news conference, at which he also answered questions about the shutdown of a huge meat-processing plant in Alberta and continuing talks with the provinces about aid for the hard-pressed oil-and-gas sector.

“A portion of these funds will go directly to smaller, independent front-line organizations, and the rest will flow through national organizations like the United Way, Community Foundations Canada and the Red Cross that can get funds to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly,” Mr. Trudeau said. "With this fund, we’re giving more resources to charities and non-profits so they can adapt to the new realities and difficulties brought on by this pandemic.”

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The money is meant to help fund programs such as volunteer home-deliveries of groceries and medications, groups that drive seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments, efforts to contact vulnerable populations by phone or online, and groups that help individuals access government benefits.

Mr. Trudeau also announced that the Canada Revenue Agency is launching a new online calculator that will help businesses determine amounts they can expect to claim through the federal wage-subsidy program.​ Applications for the program will open on Monday, April 27.

Mr. Trudeau was asked Tuesday about the potential impact of the temporary closing of one of Canada’s largest slaughterhouses. U.S.-based Cargill Ltd. announced on Monday that it was temporarily shutting down its plant in High River, Alta., after hundreds of people connected with the facility were infected with COVID-19 and one died.

“We’ve heard from Canadian beef producers and associations that the priority will be on ensuring Canadians’ supply before they move to exporting. Most of our beef is exported. But right now, the priority will be on domestic supply, so we are not at this point anticipating shortages of beef, but prices might go up. We will of course be monitoring that very, very carefully. At the same time, we know that it is extremely important to do everything we can to keep Canadians safe,” the Prime Minister said.

On the oil-and-gas sector, Mr. Trudeau said the government continues to talk with energy-producing provinces about the economic and fiscal consequences of low oil prices caused by a plunge in global demand during the COVID-19 crisis and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“We recognize that various provinces are facing real challenges in terms of cash crunches, in terms of liquidity, and our Department of Finance and others are engaged closely with different provinces on challenges that they’re facing specifically,” said Mr. Trudeau.

The Prime Minister repeated his assessment that the data trends related to new COVID-19 infections are encouraging, but current restrictions must continue.

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“There is reason for cautious optimism,” he said. “We’re hearing that from medical officers across the provinces and across the country, noting that the increase in cases is getting smaller every day in many places. We’re still seeing more cases every day, but fewer than in previous days, which is a sign that our efforts our working.”

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