Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by offering my sincere condolences to the people of Lebanon following last week's devastating explosion in Beirut. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy and the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Canadians who are worried about their friends and family. Canada is working with the international community to identify how we can support urgent needs and continue to offer emergency supports such as medical aid, food and shelter.
Here at home, the Government of Canada is working with all levels of government to respond to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and to reduce the impact it is having on families, communities and our economy. We have seen a decrease in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and associated deaths over the past few months, which shows that we have really flattened the curve. This downward trend is largely the result of two factors: one, governments working together in a coordinated pan-Canadian fashion, and two, the ongoing efforts of individual Canadians who are diligently following our public health advice.
As we safely and gradually reopen our economy, we need to remain vigilant. We need to learn from the experiences of other countries that are seeing a significant resurgence of cases, and prevent that from happening here at home.
For today's debate, I would like to highlight some of the actions that have been taken by the Public Health Agency of Canada since the onset of this pandemic. As members know, collaboration is the cornerstone of good public health. That is why the Government of Canada has taken a whole-of-government approach to managing this crisis and is committed to working with the provinces and territories and our international partners.
Public Health Agency of Canada officials have been working closely with international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, as well as with public health agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to protect the health and safety of Canadians and the global community.
We have been engaging with our G7 counterparts on a regular basis to share information on public health measures, to learn from their experiences, and to share best practices and identify possible joint actions to tackle this outbreak together. Of course, we have been working very closely with the provinces and territories throughout this time on vital issues such as developing guidance on infection prevention, conducting laboratory testing and ensuring that facilities are equipped with the personal protective equipment and ventilators they need.
It is important to recognize that the science around COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, which means that our public health guidance continues to evolve along with it. Researchers at PHAC are working with scientific experts in various fields across the country and around the world to continually review and evaluate the latest scientific evidence. When they determine that the body of evidence has gained sufficient credibility and acceptability with the scientific community, our advice and guidance is updated as quickly as possible to reflect the best current scientific knowledge and public health practices.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, PHAC officials have worked with provincial, territorial and international partners to detect signals and investigate transmission patterns of COVID-19 in communities across Canada. Multiple data streams are used to monitor and illustrate the current situation in Canada, including daily case information by province and territory in developing outbreak scenarios. PHAC analyzes this data on a daily basis to monitor trends for early detection of new patterns of transmission. PHAC also monitors early warning signs and systems to collect and exchange timely information on public health events with its members.
The Government of Canada, in collaboration with other orders of government and across sectors, has developed a new nationwide mobile app to let users know if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. The app, called COVID Alert, is free and available to all Canadians to download. COVID Alert uses strong measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of any data it collects. The app does not track a user's location or collect personally identifiable information. It is another tool that Canadians can use to help slow the spread of infection, prevent future outbreaks and protect our communities as we ease restrictions and restart the economy. I urge all Canadians to download and use this app. Certainly, the more people who use it the more effective it will be.
The government has also taken strong measures at the border to limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of Canadians.
For example, emergency orders have been enacted under the Quarantine Act to restrict discretionary entry into Canada from abroad and to strengthen measures to reduce the importation risk from other countries. This means that people entering Canada, no matter their country of origin or their mode of entry, are required to quarantine for 14 days. Some exemptions to the mandatory quarantine are allowed so critical infrastructure, essential services and economic supply chains can continue between Canada and the United States.
All travellers entering Canada are required to provide certain information upon entry, including contact information and an appropriate quarantine plan. The government has developed a mobile app called “ArriveCAN” to allow travellers to input their information quickly, easily and securely before, during and after their arrival at the border.
I am pleased to see that thousands of travellers to Canada are using the “ArriveCAN” app. This means they are spending less time with border services officers, public health officers and other travellers and in lineups.
PHAC is increasing its public health presence to 36 points of entry across the country, which cover 90% of all traffic coming into Canada during normal operating circumstances. This positions us well to deal with increasing non-essential travel now that international travel is starting to resume.
I also want to mention vulnerable populations. The government recognizes that while public health measures are essential for stopping the spread of COVID-19, they have taken a toll on Canadians. COVID-19 is creating stress and anxiety for people, particularly for those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. This has had an impact on mental wellness and has increased the risks associated with family violence and substance use. This is why our government created the wellness together Canada portal to connect Canadians with mental health and substance use supports.
PHAC has also announced new initiatives that can help reduce the risk and impacts of family violence, including funding for the Kids Help Phone, shelters and sexual assault services, income support initiatives and support for non-profit and charitable organizations. In addition, PHAC continues to work closely with Correctional Service Canada to strengthen measures to prevent the introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in federal correctional institutions across Canada.
This is just a snapshot of some of the actions that the Public Health Agency of Canada has taken to protect the health and safety of Canadians from COVID-19. As all members in the House can appreciate, an incalculable amount of work is going on behind the scenes across all orders of government and with our many partners in the public health, academic and research communities.
By continuing to work together, we will further our understanding of this novel coronavirus and gain the scientific evidence and data we need to inform our public health planning and response at local, national and international levels. We need to continue to be vigilant; operate based on scientific evidence, which is accumulating; and adapt our public health measures accordingly. This is part of being a responsive government. I am very proud to say I am part of a team that is being really responsive at a time when Canadians need us most.
Last, I would like to commend all our public health agency staff right across the country. We have professionals who are top-notch and they have done an incredible job of helping all our communities.