COVID-19: Canada’s response
On this page
- Support to provinces and territories
- Economic and financial support
- Border measures and travel
- Support for Canadians abroad
- Digital tools and apps
- Public education
- Health care preparedness, guidance and ethics
- Diverse communities
- Helping people who use substances
- Research and technology
- Wastewater surveillance
- International response
- Clinical trials and sponsors
- Drug and medical device supply monitoring
- Critical Drug Reserve during the COVID-19 pandemic
Support to provinces and territories
We're working to support provinces and territories in responding to COVID-19, such as with:
- contact tracing
- testing assistance
- testing equipment
- laboratory services
- outbreak management
- voluntary safe isolation sites
- vaccination administration IT programs
Economic and financial support
Learn more about Canada's actions to help Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Border measures and travel
- COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders
- Travel advice and advisories
- COVID-19: Exposure notices from select cruise ships
- COVID-19 measures, updates, and guidance issued by Transport Canada
We're continually assessing travel risks for Canadians. All international passenger flight arrivals have been redirected to certain airports:
Since May 21, 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada, under the Quarantine Act, has gradually increased its presence at key high-volume ports of entry across Canada, including land borders. We have added more:
- screening officers
- quarantine officers
- clinical screening officers
- environmental health officers
- identifying travellers who may be ill
- implementing emergency measures to require travellers entering Canada to quarantine for 14 days
- asking travellers to monitor their symptoms and take appropriate action if they experience symptoms
Support for Canadians abroad
We created this program to help Canadians without financial means and whose plans to return to Canada before the COVID-19 pandemic were interrupted. This emergency repayable loan can cover the costs to return home or short-term needs while they make efforts to return to Canada.
Global Affairs Canada is providing 24/7 consular support to Canadians abroad affected by COVID-19 through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and through consular staff at its network of missions.
Digital tools and apps
Canada has developed apps and tools including the free COVID Alert app which notifies you if someone you were near in the past 14 days tells the app they tested positive.
Public education plays a critical role in our response to COVID-19 by providing timely, accessible and evidence-informed information that:
- increases awareness and understanding of the disease
- explains prevention and what to do if you develop symptoms
- addresses misinformation
We've developed printable resources in many languages, on topics such as handwashing, making a mask, and how to isolate, so that Canadians can better understand and take steps to protect themselves and their families.
We've launched a national public education campaign that provides Canadians with evidence-based information on COVID-19, and encourages behaviours that protect individuals and our communities. This campaign includes:
- social marketing
- social media posts
- information resources
- targeted outreach to at-risk populations
Free vaccines are available to everyone in Canada.
We're working at all levels of government to be ready to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to everyone who wants one.
How governments will approach decisions on COVID-19 immunization in their respective jurisdictions.
Health care preparedness, guidance and ethics
This framework offers guidance on:
- long-term and critical care settings
- clinical management of patients
- COVID health sector preparedness
This ethical and technical guidance was developed for health professionals and a broad range of sectors in collaboration with:
- health authorities
- public health experts
- provincial and territorial governments
We developed this framework to help guide policy makers and public health professionals when making decisions in the context of COVID-19. The framework outlines ethical principles and values for public health authorities to consider. It also sets out questions to help clarify issues, analyze and weigh relevant considerations and assess options to support decision making in real situations.
To help communities across Canada, we have mobilized resources where needed, such as:
- public health resources, including:
- infection prevention and control
- environmental health officers
- personal protective equipment
- medical equipment
- laboratory supplies
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence are working with civil authorities at all levels of government. While helping communities, we're doing everything possible to protect armed forces members from exposure.
- sending medical staff to support long-term care facilities
- deploying Canadian rangers to deliver food, supplies and assistance to northern communities
We're engaging across government and directly with equity-seeking groups to ensure the federal response to the pandemic is informed by diverse community needs. These groups include:
- racialized communities
- Indigenous communities
- religious minority communities
Helping people who use substances
We're taking a number of targeted actions to address these issues. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the ongoing public health crisis related to high rates of opioid overdose and deaths, as well as acute substance use harms. These crises are made worse in communities where there is chronic overcrowding, including a shortage of housing or other shelters.
Research and technology
- International efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic
- Government of Canada's Research Response to COVID-19 Report
- Short-term data priorities to support the COVID-19 response
- COVID-19 virtual library of health data and evidence
Canadian researchers are working hard to support international efforts. To slow, and eventually stop, the spread of COVID-19, we need to advance research and technology development.
Research is taking place to enhance our capacity to:
- test antivirals and other treatments
- develop vaccines
- support clinical trials
Research is also underway to quickly detect, manage and reduce the transmission of COVID-19, including:
- diagnostic testing
- clinical management
- transmission dynamics
- social impacts
- unintended consequences of physical distancing (such as family violence, mental health impacts, food insecurity)
Public health organizations are looking for the latest scientific evidence to inform the COVID-19 response in Canada. Evidence is the available body of facts or information on a topic. There are different types of evidence: research-based, experience and opinion. Optimal evidence is based upon well-designed research studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses found in the published scientific literature.
The Public Health Agency of Canada aims to rapidly identify, categorize and briefly summarize the most recent evidence around various aspects of COVID-19. Our aim is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date scientific intelligence to decision makers. Access a list of the Public Health Agency of Canada's COVID-19 evidence.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is also working with the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, which houses a repository for COVID-19 related evidence reviews. The repository helps to minimize duplication and facilitate collaboration among public health partners.
People infected with COVID-19 can shed the virus through their stool, even if they don't have any symptoms. Testing a community's sewage (wastewater) can tell us if COVID-19 is increasing or decreasing in that community.
Our scientists have developed a pan-Canadian wastewater network to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. This is in collaboration with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and academia across Canada.
Some communities and local health authorities are collecting wastewater samples for analysis by Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory. Analysis helps detect the virus that causes COVID-19 and variants.
For more information, please refer to:
- COVID-19 wastewater surveillance dashboard
- Science of Health blog: Harnessing the power of wastewater testing to detect COVID-19 outbreaks
- National Microbiology Laboratory
The response plan was created to ensure a coordinated response across Canada.
This committee was established to advise Federal/Provincial/Territorial Deputy Ministers of Health across Canada on the coordination, public health policy and technical content related to this outbreak. This committee consists of the members of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network Council and the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, and is co-chaired by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, and Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer. On May 1, 2020, the committee released: Foundations for Living with COVID-19 in Canada: Lifting of Restrictive Public Health Measures. On May 20, 2020, the committee released a fact sheet on mask wearing for community settings.
Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose COVID-19 from clinical specimens. The NML is working collaboratively with Canadian provincial public health laboratories through the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network to ensure there is additional testing capacity in multiple jurisdictions.
At this time, the NML also supports the use of other publicly posted international assays.
Further collaborative scientific studies to investigate the virus are underway.
Since February 11, 2020, the Government of Canada has supported the global effort to beat the pandemic. To date, Canada has committed over $3.4 billion to the global response to COVID-19. We've made an additional $1 billion available for International Monetary Fund loans related to COVID-19. Since May 2020, Canada has also provided more than $70 million in temporary debt service relief for the poorest countries through the G20 and Paris Club agreed Debt Service Suspension Initiative.
- Minister Morneau concludes productive meetings for the G7, G20, International Monetary Fund and World Bank
- Prime Minister concludes productive meeting for G7 leaders
Canada is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. This ensures that people worldwide have equal and affordable access to COVID-19 health products like:
- tests for diagnosing the disease
- treatments, therapies and drugs (therapeutics)
Prime Minister Trudeau participated in 2 Coronavirus Global Response pledging events. The European Union, Canada and other global leaders co-hosted the first event on May 4, 2020. On June 27, 2020, he participated in the second virtual event hosted by the European Union and Global Citizen. These events raised 15.9 billion euros for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as the global recovery effort.
In September 2020, the Prime Minister announced Canada's participation in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility. This initiative develops and deploys safe, effective and accessible COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians and low- and middle-income countries.
Canada's pandemic response also supports critical areas of international development, including:
- food security
- nutrition initiatives
- humanitarian assistance
- women's rights advocacy
- health and global health security
- sexual and reproductive health and rights
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service
The Trade Commissioner Service helps Canadian businesses grow by connecting them with:
- international opportunities
- its funding and support programs
- its network of trade commissioners in over 160 cities worldwide
The service is using its network to support our pandemic response efforts by:
- helping businesses resolve exporting issues
- supporting Canadian companies impacted by supply chain disruptions
- assisting clients and partners in sourcing supply for medical devices and personal protective equipment on behalf of the Government of Canada
- these efforts include supporting procurement and purchasing, logistics, cargo flights, permitting and customs procedures
The Trade Commissioner Service also revamped its CanExport SMEs program to lessen the effect of travel restrictions on international business development. It gives small and medium businesses up to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of development activities like:
- attending virtual trade shows
- developing and expanding their e-commerce
Our work with partners
Canada is working with like-minded partners and international organizations to respond to COVID-19.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization plays an important leadership and coordination role in the pandemic response. We work with them to:
- reduce risks to Canadians and the global community
- lessen the pandemic's impact on at-risk populations
- use the Access to COVID-19 Accelerator initiative for quicker access to the development, production and equitable distribution of new COVID-19:
World Trade Organization: Ottawa Group
We work closely with our international partners, including as chair of the Ottawa Group, to:
- address the economic impacts of COVID-19
- support a rules-based international trading system
- addressing transparency as per the joint statement on focusing action on COVID-19
- intensifying work on e-commerce
- keeping agri-food markets open and predictable
- exploring options for an initiative on trade and health
This will ensure there are no disruptions to supply chains for essential health care goods and services.
Federal G7 health and finance ministers hold regular calls to share approaches and discuss responses, aiming to:
- protect the health of their citizens and the global population
- reduce the effects of other issues related to the outbreak
We're working with the G20 to implement its Action Plan on Trade and Investment. This will support people and businesses by lessening the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade and investment. It will also contribute to global economic recovery based on strong, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Development Ministers' Contact Group on COVID-19
This group is co-led by Canada's minister of international development and the United Kingdom's counterpart. They coordinate international assistance responses and focus on the sustainability and effectiveness of our efforts.
International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities
Health Canada is an executive committee member of the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA). This global coalition of regulatory authorities provides strategic leadership to address current and emerging regulatory and safety challenges in human medicine.
Health Canada plays an integral role in setting strategic direction for this committee. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee has expanded its scope of work to provide a global approach for regulators in relation to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
The Access Consortium promotes collaboration to address emerging scientific and regulatory issues on health products. The consortium also helps access resources and expertise. Access regulators have published a statement pledging support to tackle COVID-19.
We also work closely with international regulatory partners to:
- help fast-track clinical trials and applications for:
- tests for diagnosing COVID-19
- share information on any signals of global supply disruptions
These partners include the:
- European Medicines Agency
- Therapeutic Goods Administration
- United States Food and Drug Administration
- help fast-track clinical trials and applications for:
Clinical trials and sponsors
Companies and researchers with drugs, medical devices, or natural health products that may be effective in treating or diagnosing COVID-19 are encouraged to contact us to facilitate clinical trials.
Clinical trials are studies to find out whether a drug or medical device is safe and effective for people. We can authorize a clinical trial quickly in urgent situations.
Please contact us at:
- trials using pharmaceutical drugs: OCT_BEC_Enquiries_Enquetes@hc-sc.gc.ca
- trials using biologics or radiopharmaceuticals: firstname.lastname@example.org
- trials using natural health products: NHPD-CTA.DEC-DPSN@canada.ca
- investigational testing of medical devices: email@example.com
Drug and medical device supply monitoring
The Government of Canada is actively monitoring the novel COVID-19 and its impact on the supply of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, natural health products and medical devices in Canada. We do this through regular contact with:
- drug, medical device and natural health products manufacturers and importers
- provincial, territorial and international partners
We're aware that there may be supply disruptions related to COVID-19 and are monitoring the situation closely.
Companies that market prescription drugs for human use in Canada must report anticipated or actual drug shortages on Drug Shortages Canada. We've contacted companies to remind them of this requirement. We've also asked industry stakeholder associations to notify us of any early signals of shortages related to COVID-19. The provinces and territories, health care professionals or the public can also report drug and medical device shortage signals.
We'll continue to use all available tools to help manage critical national shortages when they happen, and work with partners so that Canadians have access to the medications they need.
Critical Drug Reserve during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Government of Canada has been working with provinces/territories and other partners to establish a COVID-19 Critical Drug Reserve that focuses on the drugs that hospitals are using to treat patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. The reserve will be a safety net, helping to increase the supply of key drugs used to treat COVID-19. It's an additional tool and part of our collective pandemic response efforts to support the health and safety of Canadians.
- Digital factsheets, printable posters and shareable videos on COVID-19 (multilingual products available)
- COVID-19: Social media and promotional resources for Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada
- COVID-19: Updates on laws, corrections and parole
- Special measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Backgrounder: Government of Canada takes action on COVID-19
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