Apr 8, 2020

Justin Trudeau Canada Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 8

Trudeau COVID 19 speech April 8
RevBlogTranscriptsCanada COVID-19 Briefing TranscriptsJustin Trudeau Canada Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 8

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau’s press conference from April 8. He gave updates on wage subsidy and aid for Canadian students. Read the full transcript of the speech here.


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Justin Trudeau: (00:00)
There’s a lot of reflections ongoing on that, but as we know, the current measures will be in place for many more weeks so we have time to get that right and to look what other countries that might be earlier in their phase do that is successful or less.

Speaker 1: (00:18)
And just to follow up on that, it seems that we do have some time to think about it, but there’s also … How do you assess the risk of summertime? I mean we’ve been cooped up already for four weeks and people are doing it voluntarily and, as you say, working very well together, but what’s the risk of that falling apart as the summertime comes, and the good weather is there and people are in desperate need of some earnings as well?

Justin Trudeau: (00:44)
We will be talking about modeling in the coming days and what various scenarios are. But what is very, very clear is in order to avoid spiking cases, in order to avoid having to stay in reduced economic activity modes for months and months and months and months and months, we need to keep very, very strong in the measures we have now. That is how we get to the best case scenario, and quite frankly the social distancing and the staying home that Canadians are doing now is being … Is exactly the right kinds of things that we need in order to look at the most optimistic models. There is no question that once we start to get to the other side of this spike and are able to talk about easing off social distancing, there will be a need for continual surveillance, continual attentiveness on testing, on contact tracing, on protecting our most vulnerable.

Justin Trudeau: (01:48)
That means that even as things are able to start getting back to normal, they won’t be back to normal, and calibrating that right and understanding that what people are doing now is essential, what they will continue doing now in the coming weeks is just as essential, but how we ease off and continue to follow the best directions and instructions of our public health officials will be how we manage to get through this in the best possible way. [foreign language 00:02: 26].

Speaker 2: (03:46)
Merci. Thank you. Operator, next question please.

Speaker 3: (03:51)
Thank you. The next question is from Elsie Araj, HuffPost Canada. Your line is open. Please go ahead.

Elsie Araj: (03:57)
Thank you. Good morning. Can you explain why the government chose not to make relief payments, simple, inclusive and universal? We’re hearing from a lot of people who are excluded from the measures that you’ve announced, including the ones this week, for a variety of reasons. Now one of your MPs and telling people who have some income not to take the attestation for the [inaudible 00:04:19] living benefits so literally, there’s another expert telling self-employed workers not to invoice for 14 days in order to qualify, which to me sounds pretty unethical. Why did you decide against, for example, sending $2,000 payment to all Canadians and to collect it back from those who don’t need them next year?

Justin Trudeau: (04:37)
We recognized that we needed to do things quickly and we needed to do things robustly in a way that would allow our extraordinary public servants at Canada Revenue Agency and elsewhere to be able to put in a system that would reach the largest number of Canadians who needed it as possible. We looked at many different designs and we even iterated in the designs that we put forward, but we established that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit was a way of replacing income to the largest number of people who suddenly found themselves without a paycheck and that the wage subsidy at 75% was going to be able to keep people connected to their jobs and ensure that businesses continued to exist so that they can come back quickly afterwards. We recognize that anytime you put out large measure measures quickly and in a way that is solid enough to be certain that it’s going to work through the machine, there are going to be gaps. And what we’ve talked about over these past days is ways of filling those gaps and making sure that more people who are in exceptional or different circumstances are able to access the help we need and we will continue to have more to say on that in the coming days. [foreign language 00: 06:01].

Elsie Araj: (07:24)
Yeah, but with respect, if your goal is to help the widest number of people, to make this as broad as possible and you’re defending it by saying that you needed to have big bold action, wouldn’t the big bold action be to send everybody help, as opposed to rolling out week by week new changes, revised versions of programs in order to fix the gaps that apparently are just coming to the government’s attention? That way you wouldn’t have people who maybe six, seven, eight weeks without any income at all.

Justin Trudeau: (08:00)
We knew from the very beginning that we had to make a choice. Whether we get big programs out quickly to as many people as possible, or else we figure out how to refine them and get the right things to people. We made it a double process, a two program process writ large, where, yes, millions of Canadians will receive the $2,000 every month with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, but we also know that there are many Canadians who are middle-class, for whom $2,000 a month might not be even nearly enough to cover their needs right now because of various costs, because of various issues that they’re facing, which is why we wanted to bring in a 75% wage subsidy that will give them, instead of just $500 a week, up to $847 a week. That is more generous for people who need it, but it is still a significant pay cut for everyone.

Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
We understand this is a situation that is difficult for everyone. We modeled ourselves, these programs on a collection of programs that worked in different ways in different countries, and we’re confident that we came up with the right measures to help the most Canadians. But as I said, there are people we recognize need particular help or don’t quite fall into those categories, and that’s very much what we’re working on now and have been announcing over the past few days in terms of measures that we’re bringing in for people who work a less than 10 hours a week, for example, who will still qualify for the CERB. These are the kinds of things we’re continuing to work on.

Speaker 4: (09:44)
Thank you. Next question, operator.

Operator: (09:47)
Thank you. [French 00:09:47]

Justin Trudeau: (10:10)
[French 00:10:10] Okay. We recognize that this is a significant task, but we know that businesses who are making decisions to rehire are stretched thin and need to know that money is going to come in soon from the government. That’s why we are aiming for three weeks in terms of landing the wage subsidy, getting it to Canadian businesses. It will require a continued Herculean efforts by our public servants, particular at the Canada Revenue Agency, who have done extraordinary work over these past weeks to deliver the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and, as we’ve seen, millions of Canadians are beginning to receive that as of today. This was an unbelievable effort by people who, quite frankly, are facing the same challenges, the same pandemic, the same family issues and worries that the rest of us are facing, but stayed focused on delivering help for Canadians because this was so important at this time. Now they are going to turn their energies and efforts towards delivering the wage subsidy, which as I said, we hope to see within the next three weeks. But that is something that we’re going to continue working on extremely hard. That’s one of the reasons why we are so eager to see parliament passed the legislation necessary. I’m certainly hoping that the opposition parties will join me in moving quickly to get this through so we can get help to Canadians.

Justin Trudeau: (13:07)
[French 00:13:07] Okay. We recognize that these measures are the largest measures passed in decades, if not ever by a Canadian government, that’s why our democratic institutions and the democratic processes, including parliamentary oversight, is extremely important, that’s why we’re working with opposition parties to ensure that this legislation gets passed quickly, but properly, so that we can get this help to Canadians in the best possible way.

Speaker 4: (14:16)
Thank you. One more call please, operator.

Operator: (14:19)
Next question is from Brett Forester, APTN. Your line is open. Please, go ahead.

Brett Forester: (14:25)
Hi, Mr. Prime Minister. With various first nations calling for military assistance, at what point does the military agree to go help? Is it number of cases? Is it deaths? Is it per capita? What’s the threshold for answering some of these calls for help?

Justin Trudeau: (14:42)
Obviously, we are very concerned with the situation in first nations communities across the country. Indigenous communities in general, particularly remote and northern ones, are more vulnerable because they often have difficult circumstances including difficulty around healthcare. We recognize that as something we need to focus on. Decisions on how to best help, first of all, we’ve already allocated millions of dollars to community support programs in indigenous communities. As for further assistance or military assistance, that will always be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual circumstances and how we can best help as a government. That is what we’re always going to be looking at.

Speaker 4: (15:29)
And a follow-up?

Brett Forester: (15:31)
Yep. Thank you. As a follow-up, we know, as you say, these communities really are Petri dishes. For example, [Ubamatong 00:15:37] and the [Nishnabiaska 00:15:40] Nation grand chiefs have been asking for other resources in lieu of military aid. What’s your response to some of their calls to action?

Justin Trudeau: (15:48)
My response to a Grand Chief Fiddler and others is that, yes, we’re there. We want to help. I know Minister Miller and others have been engaging directly with leadership across Canada to ensure that what is needed is worked on together. We recognize the particular and, in many cases, significant needs of indigenous communities. That is something that we are working on together.

Justin Trudeau: (16:22)
Okay. [French 00:16:24]

Justin Trudeau: (18:00)
[foreign language 00:00:01].

Speaker 7: (18:07)
In English.

Justin Trudeau: (18:23)
Okay. We recognize that the two measures we’ve put forward, the wage subsidy, and the Canada emergency response benefit will help millions of Canadians. But at the same time, we also recognize there are people who will not qualify for either, and who need help, that’s why we’ve announced certain modifications already. If you’re working less than 10 hours a week, we will be telling you how you can apply for the CERB. If you’re a student for example, on top of the Canada summer jobs program that we talked about today, we will bring forward more measures. Because we recognize that without your summer job, without a source of income over the coming months, including part time work, you will have trouble paying your rent, you will have trouble paying for your tuition next year.

Justin Trudeau: (19:12)
So these are the things that we’re continuing to work on, we just needed to get the two big measures that would help millions of Canadians out as quickly as possible, and chose to work on refining them later. There is always a fundamental choice to make in a crisis around whether you want to move fast, or whether you want to get everything absolutely perfect. In this case we understood that getting help out to Canadians as quickly as possible, in a way that is as solid as possible, was extremely important, and we continually work in terms of making sure we’re getting people who find themselves in gaps.

Speaker 8: (19:51)
[foreign language 00:01:51].

Justin Trudeau: (19:58)
[foreign language 00:02:09].

Marieke Walsh: (20:01)
In English, please.

Justin Trudeau: (20:29)
Okay, we will … I will continue to work from home day in and day out as we’re asking most Canadians to do. There will be moments for strategic meetings, or particular issues where I will go into the office for meetings, taking all proper precautions, but most of my work will continue to be from home on the telephone.

Marieke Walsh: (20:52)
Marieke Walsh with the Globe and Mail. For the past two weeks you’ve been saying that the models that cannot will release are coming in the coming days, when will they actually be released?

Justin Trudeau: (21:02)
We’ve seen over the past few days, a number of provinces putting forward more data, and more modeling on their issues. At the federal level, we continue every single day to put forward updated numbers, to be fully transparent with Canadians on the national picture. But in order to have a national picture in terms of modeling and forecasts, we need to draw on what the provinces are doing, what modeling work they’re doing. Provinces are have been releasing this week, much more information around their models. And as we collate those and look at those, and integrate those into a national model, we will have more to say in the coming days.

Speaker 9: (21:52)
[foreign language 00:03:39]

Justin Trudeau: (21:54)
[foreign language 00:21:42].

Marieke Walsh: (21:54)
So, is it more reasonable to say that it would be in the coming weeks then at this point? And the conservatives are calling for a daily question period with the return to parliament, do you support that?

Justin Trudeau: (22:47)
I think it’s extremely important that parliament continues to do its work, particularly in a time of crisis. It is going to be extremely important that we gather to pass important legislation, to allow Canadian businesses and workers to be helped by the Canada, the a wage subsidy. These are things that we’re gathering for, and working together on. I think that as we asked the speaker a number of days ago, we should look at gathering a virtual parliament. I think it’s important that parliamentarians from every corner of the country, not just those within driving distance of Ottawa, should be able to weigh in on the working of our democracy. That’s why we’re looking at virtual models to doing that. In terms of my own engagement, and I’m happy to take questions every day, and I’m happy to work with parliamentarians, as I take questions everyday as I do here from media, but I’m also happy to work with parliamentarians to make sure that we’re continuing to get accountability, and get the measures right for Canadians. I believe deeply in our democratic institutions, particularly in a time of crisis, and I look forward to continuing to work with all opposition parties to make sure that we have working systems in place.

Speaker 9: (24:00)
[foreign language 00:24:01].

Justin Trudeau: (25:08)
[foreign language 00:06: 02].

Tom Perry: (25:10)
Prime Minister, Tom Perry with CBC News. I know you’re going to be talking about your modeling in the coming days, but from what you’ve seen, do you have any idea when the virus is going to peak nationally? And also are you concerned about the virus coming in waves that Canadians are going to be dealing with for many months?

Justin Trudeau: (25:27)
Excellent question Tom. I think we are very much trying to figure out where we are on the curve within the various models. What is very, very clear is, there are significant differences across the country in where the various provinces are on their own curves. Overall as a country, I can say we have reached the point where we are, later than many other countries. So, we have a glimpse into what is effective, and what is working to bend those curves in other countries that we are doing now. Our social distancing over the past weeks and staying at home has been very effective, and regardless of the model in place, it is clear that the best outcomes come when there is maximal social distancing, as we are pretty close to doing right now.

Justin Trudeau: (26:19)
As we ramp up testing, because that’s an important piece of it, and we’re continuing to do more testing every single day, and as we do aggressive contact tracing to ensure that people who are possibly exposed, are put into self isolation. These kinds of things are what give us the best chance of getting there. We don’t know exactly when we’re going to be peaking, but we do know if we continue to do this, if we continue to keep the measures in place that we have right now, we will get through this much, much quicker. Once we are through this initial phase, we will then be in a mode, until there is a vaccine which could take …

Justin Trudeau: (27:03)
… many months, if not more than a year to get to. We will be calibrating very carefully, our behaviors, as a country, as a society, as an economy to managing the existence and persistence of COVID-19. Better testing, careful isolation of vulnerable communities, measures of gradually bringing back the economy will come. So if there are spikes, as the data and documentation tells us that we can expect, we are quickly able to adjust and react. So none of those spikes over the coming many months that are possible, will be anything as serious as this one.

Justin Trudeau: (27:51)
But in order to do that, we have to keep following medical advice. Knowing that what Canadians are doing right now, staying home, keeping two meters apart, not going out unless you absolutely have to, is what is getting us through this and will ensure that Canadians are kept as safe as possible, and our economy comes back as quickly and as strongly as possible. So let’s keep doing what we’re doing.

Speaker 10: (28:17)
[French 00:28:19].

Justin Trudeau: (28:17)
[French 00:28:22].

Kevin Gallagher: (29:42)
Hi, Prime Minister, Kevin Gallagher with CTV National News. As you spoke about the importance of testing for these models and numbers we’re talking about, are you at all concerned that Canada’s most populous provinces, the lowest per capita rate in terms of testing, but also according to reports is falling well short of Ontario’s own testing goals? So what more can the federal government do? Why hasn’t the federal government stepped in and to increase testing in Ontario and in other provinces?

Justin Trudeau: (30:11)
We’re working very closely with all provincial health authorities to ensure that they have the equipment and the ability to do as many tests as possible. This is an essential part of getting through this phase of the pandemic, and indeed keeping us out of further phase, or minimizing further phases of the pandemic over the coming many months. We continually do more testing every single day in this country. We’re already doing better than many, many countries in the world that we compare ourselves to. But at the same time we recognize there is more to do. We will continue to work with jurisdictions that are facing challenges, and we will work together to make sure that we’re doing what is needed right across the country to keep Canadians safe.

Janet Silver: (30:59)
Prime Minister, Janet Silver, Global News. Public Health Canada told the government in early February more resources for local public health officials were needed to contain the outbreak and enforce a quarantine order. Why did the federal government not act at that time to do more, to bolster resources and to stop the spread?

Justin Trudeau: (31:20)
We recognized early on that this was a challenge, and we did take many measures to try and control, or prevent, or ensure that at Canada was less vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 that we were seeing elsewhere in the world. With hindsight, I’m sure there are lots of things that we would have done differently, could have done differently. But I can tell you that every step of the way we took the advice of our medical professionals and our public health experts seriously and did as best as we could.

Justin Trudeau: (31:51)
Obviously once this is all through, there will be many, many people reflecting on different countries’ responses and what we need to do to ensure that we are even better prepared next time. It was something we certainly did and benefited from because of the SARS outbreak of 2003, that allowed us to have a number of measures in place that were more effective than some other countries. But at the same time there’s always more to learn and more to do.

Janet Silver: (32:20)
And an Ipsos poll is out today for Global News that shows one quarter of Canadians report they are still not strictly following physical distancing. And cities are also logging thousands of complaints from residents about people flouting the rules. I’m just wondering, do you have any tools that you’re willing to use to crack down on these people?

Justin Trudeau: (32:40)
I think one of the things that we have to recognize in this situation is that much of the ability of Canada and of Canadians to get through this in as short amount of time as possible, and as healthy as possible, requires citizens to be doing their part. And we see millions upon millions of Canadians following the instructions of Health Canada officials, of their public health officials, in terms of social distancing, in terms of staying at home in terms of not going out, unless they absolutely have to have, of doing everything they can to keep our frontline workers from a grocery store cashiers to surgeons as safe as we possibly can. These are the things that Canadians are doing. Unfortunately, we do see that there are some people who are not choosing to follow these instructions. And they’re putting everyone else at risk. And we continue to impress upon everyone that we need to do what is necessary to get through this as quickly and as safely as possible. We will continually work with jurisdictions, with cities, with provinces on new measures or extra measures that they feel are necessary. As it goes, we’re continually monitoring what is needed and what we might need to do as next steps.

Justin Trudeau: (34:08)
[French 00:07: 09].

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