As you may be aware, the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Many people have legitimate concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and I don't want to add to the anxiety.
The job of a Member of Parliament requires frequent travel all over the country, meeting with individuals and groups from all over the world, as well as working in close proximity to hundreds of other Members of Parliament, Senators, and staff, some of whom have recently put themselves in self isolation.
As a result, I have decided to cancel my Spring Tour of the riding which was planned for next week (March 17 - 20).
At this time, my constituency offices will remain open. However, if your concern can be handled over the phone or by email rather than in person, my staff and I would greatly appreciate your consideration in communicating with us in this way.
Also, earlier today a unanimous consent motion was adopted in the House of Commons to suspend Parliament for two weeks (March 23 to April 3).
Given the Constituency Weeks that were built into the Parliamentary Calendar, this means that Parliament won't sit again until April 20th. Scheduled committee meetings will also be cancelled.
All Parties have agreed on strong accountability measures to ensure that Parliament’s oversight duties are maintained.
This is a precautionary measure to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19 while communities across the country are seeing increased rates of infection and other large national organizations are taking significant steps to promote social distancing and flatten the curve of this virus.
Parliament Hill will remain open to pass holders but access will be closed to visitors.
To my knowledge, government departments are still operating.
Health Canada has active travel health notices posted for seven regions at the moment: China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore and South Korea. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also recommending Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Government has introduced an initial $1 billion response to help fight the virus. Included in that package is the elimination of the one-week EI Benefits waiting period for those quarantined due to COVID-19.
The virus poses a particular risk for seniors and those with underlying health issues such as cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses.
It is important to remain calm, look out for one another, and plan for the possibility of self-isolation. That plan should include having two weeks’ worth of food, household supplies, and medication.
For more information on COVID-19, including prevention methods, please to go to: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html
For information specific to Saskatchewan, please go to: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus
We will continue to update you as information comes in.
Kelly Block, MP