POLITICS
04/21/2020 15:16 EDT | Updated 04/21/2020 15:32 EDT

2 Canadian Planes Sent To China For Medical Gear Returned Empty: Trudeau

There are limits to how long an aircraft can wait on the ground in China, Trudeau says.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on April 21, 2020.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says two planes from China were forced to return empty to Canada on Monday, without the protective medical equipment that they were sent there to pick up.

One of the planes was a federal charter and the other was destined for a particular province, Trudeau said Tuesday. 

Trudeau said there are limits to how long an aircraft is allowed to wait on the ground in China.

“Supply lines and truck shipments to the airports are difficult and interrupted by checkpoints and quarantine measures. For the most part, we’ve been able to navigate through those and ensure that Canada has received the equipment that it needs,” the prime minister said during his daily briefing outside his Ottawa residence.

“But these two airplanes were forced to take off empty.”

Watch: Trudeau promises $350M for charities as donations dry up

 

He said millions of pieces of personal protective equipment, or PPE, have entered Canada in recent days, and more is expected.

He said Canadian factories continue to “tool up” so they can manufacture what is needed at home.

“It’s always a challenge to get the PPE into Canada at a time where the global market is very, very competitive,” he said.

Trudeau also unveiled more financial support for vulnerable Canadians struggling to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government plans to provide $350 million to Canada’s charities sector, he said.

Charities have seen a severe drop in donations since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, with donors hurting financially themselves and the charities unable to hold fundraising events.

Seniors and people who are poor, homeless or living with disabilities are among those who’ve been particularly hard hit by the health, social and economic ravages of the deadly virus as Canadians abide by orders to distance from one another and non-essential businesses are shut down.

 

The new measures announced Tuesday were in addition to previous measures to provide financial support to the homeless, women’s shelters, children’s counselling and local organizations that provide practical support to seniors, such as delivering groceries or medication.

Trudeau also provided more details about the timing and rollout of the massive $73-billion wage subsidy program.

The Canada Revenue Agency is setting up a calculator so employers can see how much they can expect to receive from the wage subsidy program, which will provide up to $847 per employee per week, he said. 

Among other things, the government is expected to provide details to businesses on how to apply for the subsidy.

Feds tout wage subsidy plan

Officials told the Commons finance committee last week that online applications are to open April 27. They expect to have processed 90 per cent of claims by May 4, with payments starting to roll out later that week.

The subsidy is retroactive to March 15 and available to companies that lost 15 per cent of their revenue in March or 30 per cent in April or May. The federal government will pay eligible companies 75 per cent of the first $58,700 earned by each employee, up to $847 per week for up to 12 weeks.

The government is hoping the wage subsidy will prompt companies to rehire vast swaths of the millions of Canadian workers who have asked for emergency federal aid since the pandemic brought the global economy to a virtual standstill.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2020.