COVID-19: Canada to ramp up medical supply production, Canada-US border shut to irregular migrants

Irregular migrants will be turned back at the Canada-US border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, part of a series of new measures to help Canada weather the storm of COVID-19. 

"Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be turning back irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border," said Trudeau, speaking speaking from outside his Rideau Cottage home where he remains in self-isolation, the fifth consecutive day he has addressed the nation about the coronavirus.

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Trudeau also confirmed the border will close at midnight.

On Wednesday, Trudeau announced a joint agreement with the United States to temporarily close the border to all non-essential travel in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while ensuring the flow of critical goods and people who cross the border for work.

The government is also launching it's plan to mobilize Canada's industry to fight COVID-19, said Trudeau, as businesses, such as the auto industry, around the country have asked what they can do to help. 

Trudeau called the measures, which have been compared to wartime and the Great Depression, unprecendented but necessary in the fight against the coronavirus.

The plan will help companies that already produce equipment such as ventilators, masks and hand sanitizer to "massively scale up production," he said. 

Support will also be provided to companies that want to start producing such equipement and retool their facilities to do so. 

"Our government will help these companies shift production from auto parts to medical supplies," said Trudeau. 

The federal government also announced an $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses deal with the financial impact of COVID-19. 

Trudeau said Friday that 500,000 Canadians have already applied for employment insurance benefits, compared to just under 27,000 last week.

Trudeau also announced Friday that a repatriation flight will be picking up Canadians in Morocco this weekend, and that the government remains in talks with airlines to arrange more flights.

"We're in discussion with Canadian airlines to help Canadians stranded abroad," said Trudeau.

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