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Hello,

The federal government announced its major economic aid package today to help Canadians and businesses that are being hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The most direct money is $27-billion, much of which will flow through the government’s regular channels for giving Canadians money, such as the Canada Child Benefit, but also includes the new $10-billion Emergency Care Benefit.

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The government is also deferring the collection of some $55-billion of taxes.

At the same time as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the money, he and U.S. President Donald Trump also said they had, by mutual consent, agreed to mostly close the Canada-U.S. border.

The Canadian and U.S. governments said trade should still be allowed to pass across the border, such as the truckers that bring billions of dollars of goods into Canada. Some details on the border closure, including timing, are not yet available.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It 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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

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

Many Canadians travelling abroad may not be able to make it back to Canada before borders close and airlines shut down.

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Asylum seekers are still making their way across unprotected portions of the Canada-U.S. border, though the government says they are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

B.C., too, has now shut its schools.

And how MPs and Senators of all parties came to an agreement late last week to shutter Parliament and pass some emergency measures.

Ashleigh Tuite and David Fisman (The Globe and Mail) on how the coronavirus spreads: “In Canada, the past several weeks have represented what a colleague has referred to as our ‘golden time.’ We have seen how quickly the situation has progressed in other countries and increasingly understand what is to come here. Despite the time we’ve had to prepare, there remains inconsistency in messaging and until Tuesday, some indecision on how stringently and comprehensively to engage in social distancing measures in Ontario. Ironically, it was also on Tuesday that one of us had his first experience participating in the care of a patient with respiratory failure due to COVID-19.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on national co-ordination: “Enough of this nonsense of every jurisdiction – Ottawa, 10 provinces, three territories, hundreds of regional health units and countless cities and municipalities – having different messages. Enough of the pussyfooting around in the name of provincial autonomy and constitutional division of powers.”

Chris Selley (National Post) on the Conservative leadership race in the midst of all this: “The party, which insists the campaign is full steam ahead with all hands on deck, is out to lunch. Delaying the process might be better than soldiering on. Better still, however, would be to abandon the campaign, refund everyone’s money and hold a vote for leader among the declared candidates as soon as possible.”

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