OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today more financial support aimed at helping the most vulnerable Canadians survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new announcement follows Friday’s commitment of $100 million for organizations that help get food to Canadians who can’t afford groceries or who have uncertain access to food and other basic necessities, including Indigenous Peoples and remote northern populations.

That funding is to go to groups like Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada.

Government officials have said several more initiatives to help vulnerable people would follow.

In its first financial aid package, approved by Parliament last week, the federal government committed some $200 million to help shelters for homeless people and women and children fleeing domestic violence.

No details of how that funding is to be dispersed have been provided.

At today’s daily briefing on the pandemic, Trudeau will likely also face more questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s order that Minnesota-based 3M stop supplying surgical-grade face masks, known as N95 respirators, to Canada and Latin America.

Trump wants the masks, which are critical to protect frontline health care workers, reserved strictly for American use.

On Friday, Trudeau said the federal government was making the point “very clearly” to the Trump administration that it is critical not to disrupt the two-way flow of essential goods and services — including Canadian health care professionals who work in American hospitals — that cross the border every day.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said federal ministers and premiers had been deployed to carry that message to their counterparts in the U.S. 

She warned that the federal government is “prepared to do whatever it takes to defend the national interest.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2020.

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