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The federal government is tapping the private sector to help provide urgently needed medical technology to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, bringing in both startups and some of the biggest names in corporate Canada to help.

Speaking during his daily press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government has finalized deals with three Canadian startups to provide innovative solutions that will allow for one million tests for coronavirus in the next year and the production of 500 ventilator units in the coming months.

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Mr. Trudeau also thanked companies for their donations of personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies to health-care workers in Canada, naming Magna International, General Motors of Canada Company, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd, Linamar Corp., Shell Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy, Alibaba Group, and the Home Depot.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, usually written by Chris Hannay. Michelle Carbert is taking over for a couple of weeks while Chris helps with other important duties at The Globe. The newsletter is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


News is currently dominated by the COVID-19 outbreak. For a full rundown, you can subscribe to our Coronavirus Update newsletter (sign up here). Here are some stories that speak to the political and governmental response.

The Ontario government says it will probe a “tragic situation” unfolding at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where 12 residents have died of COVID-19, but won’t commit to further transparency or testing at seniors’ facilities. As of Monday, 24 staff have also tested positive for the virus, with results pending for another 10.

Canadian transit agencies are seeking immediate access to more than $1-billion in emergency federal funding and another $400-million per month to cover fare-box losses as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate ridership. The request to federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna was made by the Canadian Urban Transit Association, an umbrella organization that represents more than 100 Canadian transit operators.

The emergency coronavirus legislation the federal government passed last week bolsters Ottawa’s ability to step in and purchase troubled assets from financial institutions or other companies if necessary, building on measures Ottawa put in place during the 2008-09 financial crisis. Government officials, who were granted confidentiality because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, say the kind of actions envisioned under the new bill would only be employed in a worst-case scenario.

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The Globe takes a look at why Quebec’s coronavirus cases have skyrocketed. Montreal, with about 5 per cent of Canada’s population, has about one-quarter of the country’s COVID-19 cases, according to the latest data published by public health authorities. The province of Quebec, with 22 per cent of Canada’s population, has about half of the country’s cases.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says he is “deeply concerned” about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on refugees and communities that host them, prompting him to call for additional financial support and a co-ordinated international effort. In a report Tuesday, Filippo Grandi said the agency is “sparing no effort” to help refugees, many of whom live in overcrowded camps or poor urban areas, without adequate access to soap and clean water.

Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations says now is not the time to campaign for a Security Council seat. Marc-André Blanchard said he and his team are instead focusing their efforts on the country’s international response to COVID-19. Although the race is still technically underway, he said it’s “all hands on deck” in the fight against the coronavirus.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the pandemic’s winners and losers: “When the pandemic subsides, priorities will change, creating winners and losers in both the private and public spheres. The losers could include schools and landlords, while incumbent politicians may emerge as winners. Canada’s reputation may emerge as a winner as well.”

Bob Rae and Mel Cappe (The Globe and Mail) on keeping the pieces together during the pandemic: “A health crisis does not mean economic collapse. While we must keep our eyes firmly on the fight against the disease, we need to do everything we can to maintain the economic and social ties that are so important. We can’t just pick up the pieces in two or three months. We need to keep the pieces together.”

Miles Corak (The Globe and Mail) on Ottawa’s struggle to be a just-in-time government: “There is no doubt that the income-support programs the federal government moved quickly out of the drawing room and into legislation last week were designed with an eye, not simply to whether they were big enough, but to how they would be delivered. The cheques won’t be in the mail for weeks. In a time of pandemic, that’s a lifetime."

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Tina Park (The Globe and Mail) on lessons Canada can take from South Korea on flattening the curve: “The geographical realities of Canada and South Korea are not the same, but COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and saving human lives is a collective responsibility. If a country of 52 million people with a population density about 100 times that of Canada’s – and so close to China – can flatten its curve, then Canada can too.”

Éric Grenier (CBC News) on partisan divisions on COVID-19: “For the most part (and particularly when compared to our neighbours to the south) it seems that Canadians are not letting politics get much in the way of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The fact that formerly implacable foes like Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau can put their differences aside is perhaps the clearest sign of all.”

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