Mar 25, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 25
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau provided a press briefing on COVID-19 for Canada on March 25, 2020. He provided details for the Canada aid benefit, which will be giving $2,000 per month for 4 months. Read the full speech transcript here with more details.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:05)
[French 00:00:05] Right now, a lot of people are sitting around the kitchen table with bills trying to figure out what needs to be paid and how to plan for the coming months. If you’ve been laid off, had your hours reduced or worried about your industry, these might be really stressful decisions. Far too many Canadians are having these tough conversations about finances and their future. Just look at the numbers. Last week, almost a million people applied for employment insurance. The hard truth is that people are out of work because of this crisis and worried about what comes next. So I want you to know that we’ll be there to help you. Our government is doing everything we can to be there for you.
Justin Trudeau: (00:50)
Justin Trudeau: (03:00)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months for workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19. This will replace the two benefits we announced last week. The Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit in order to streamline the process. Like I said, from the start, we will adapt our approach wherever needed. If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19, whether your full-time, contract, or self-employed, this new benefit will be there for you. If you’re sick or quarantined, looking after someone sick, or at home taking care of your kids, it’s there for you. And even if you’re still employed but not receiving income because of this crisis, the CERB is there for you.
Justin Trudeau: (03:51)
An application portal will launch as quickly as possible and people should start receiving money within 10 days of apply. I know people are concerned about delays. Families are worried about when they’ll get help. It can be hard to get through on the line and that is frustrating. Public servants are working around the clock while dealing with unprecedented demand and all of the same personal stress everyone else is facing. They will get to your application. Help is on the way. In order to speed things up, we’re rapidly deploying workers from different departments to deal with claims. In the last 10 days we’ve boosted the team by close to 13,000 people to take your calls, process your claims, and get you the support you need. And since last Monday, we’ve already processed 143,000 employment insurance claims. That means more money will go directly to people right across the country.
Justin Trudeau: (04:53)
We’re working to get you the support you need when you need it. And if you’re doing okay, there’s a way you can help someone else, as an employer, a landlord, or even just a friend, so you can be part of the solution. It can make all the difference because it’s by working together that we’ll get through this and our team knows that. We’re collaborating with the provinces and territories as well as with First Nations Inuit and Métis Nation communities to coordinate our efforts and ensure that everyone is supported. Earlier this week with the Premiers, we also discussed testing for COVID-19. We know that how long you wait for your results varies widely. The Premiers and I know we need to address that and we are. This is something Minister Hajdu and I discuss with officials every day and we’ll continue doing what’s needed to speed up results for everyone.
Justin Trudeau: (05:53)
But I also want to recognize the incredible work medical professionals are doing on this front. According to Dr. Tam, we’re now testing about 10,000 people a day. That’s a huge increase in numbers in a very short period of time and it’s because people across the country are working tirelessly to make it happen. At the same time, we’re helping companies, labs, and scientific institutions produce and supply what we need most, from masks and ventilators, to vaccines and antiviral drugs. We’re collaborating with airlines to get Canadians home from abroad and instructing everyone that they must isolate at home for 14 days. We’re also working with our international partners on this crisis. This morning I had calls with President Sall of Senegal and President Kagame of Rwanda to share strategies on keeping people safe and addressing the economic impacts of this pandemic. I’ve also spoken to Prime Minister Abiy of Ethiopia and President Kenyatta of Kenya about international coordination. And tomorrow I’ll be speaking with other G20 leaders to discuss further global coordination to our response.
Justin Trudeau: (07:11)
Justin Trudeau: (07:56)
Right now, it’s more important than ever that Canadians have access to the latest news and information. To ensure that journalists can continue to do this vital work, our government is announcing new measures to support them. Minister Guilbeault will have more to say about this shortly, but I want to take a moment to thank our journalists and media for everything they do, today and every day. Above all, the most important way we can work together is by staying apart. Social distancing is our best tool to stop people from getting sick. I know people are seeing different graphs about how effective social distancing can be and new maps tracking the spread of this virus. Every time you turn on the TV or go online, you probably read something new. I know I do and you’ll want to know what’s coming next.
Justin Trudeau: (08:53)
Today, I’ll be the latest modeling from the Public Health Agency of Canada and we’ll discuss how to share this information even more directly with all of you. But you deserve the best information we’ve got about what’s happening today and what tomorrow might bring, because otherwise, the uncertainty can be really tough, not just for your routine, but for your mental health too. We’re facing a once in a generation challenge, and on top of that, you can’t do many of the things that keep you feeling good, getting together with friends or having dinner with your neighbor. If you need help, reach out, to your neighbor, to a sibling, to a friend, to a hotline, but do it from home. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. If you’re already following these rules, thank you for doing your part. If you aren’t, know that you’re making a dangerous choice because ignoring these rules puts every single one of us, yourself included at risk.
Justin Trudeau: (12:49)
Justin Trudeau: (13:18)
We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation with an overwhelming amount of demand by Canadians to get money as quickly as possible. We need to make sure we’re getting that money out quickly but also reliably to Canadians and that means doing things that government hasn’t done before and scaling up our processes extremely quickly. We need to do that in a way that is going to be both reliable and quick and that’s why we’re pulling together people from across government to get this done.
Justin Trudeau: (13:51)
We are hopeful that this system will be up and running by the 6th of April and the checks or the direct deposits will be flowing days after that. We recognize that that is a ways off still and there are people who stopped working a week and a half ago, two weeks ago that are now receiving their last paycheck and not knowing when the next money is kind of coming in. We recognize that. We’re looking for ways to help people bridge through credit or other measures, their ability to make it to the arrival of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, but we will continue to work diligently and rapidly to make sure we’re helping every Canadian we can.
Marico Walsh: (14:33)
Prime Minister, Marico Walsh with The Globe and Mail. 60 business groups are calling on Canada to launch a wage subsidy that’s in line with the UK and Denmark, so 70 to 80%. They say it would be much more efficient than the slow process that you’re rolling out right now. You’ve been asked about this for several days now. Your question keeps being, things are still on the table, but people are laying off workers now. Now you seem to be saying that struggling businesses could choose to simply not pay their employees rather than laying them off and the workers could then receive payments under this new benefit. Is that what you’re urging struggling businesses to do and why not go with the higher wage subsidy?
Justin Trudeau: (15:11)
We are absolutely looking at more direct help for businesses. We recognize that in an ideal situation businesses wouldn’t have to lay off people and people wouldn’t have to feel like they’ve lost their job and don’t have a job to come back to after this crisis. So we are working with business groups. We are working with small businesses, hearing their concerns, looking very carefully at the models put forward in other parts of the world like Denmark and Germany and others and looking at how we can make that work or make equivalent things work here in Canada. We will have more to say on that in the coming days.
Annie Bergeron-Oliver: (16:31)
Hi, Prime Minister. It’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver with CTV National News. I know you just talked about more direct support for businesses, but can you be more specific in the meantime? You said it will come out later this week. There are many businesses that have already laid off people. There are people at home who cannot afford to pay their rent and those checks are due very soon. What specific aid is available right now for people who are sitting at home who cannot afford any of their bills?
Justin Trudeau: (16:56)
Well, for businesses, we moved very quickly to make credit available for them to help them bridge through this time, to help them get the liquidity they need at a time of crisis and significant slowdown in the economy. For people at home, we recognize that loosening up rules around credit is also a possibility. We’ve taken certain measures on that. We know people are anxious. We know that their final paychecks from two weeks ago, from last week are starting to come in now and they don’t know where the next one is going to come in or when the next one is come in. That’s why the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is going to flow as a way of giving them $2,000 every month for the next four months so that we can get through this together.
Speaker 5: (17:49)
Janet Silver: (18:25)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Janet Silver, Global News. With more than a million Canadians returning from overseas, especially in hotspots like Europe in New York City, why are we relying on the honor system and not using the Quarantine Act to isolate them, given we know that some people have boarded flights with symptoms just so desperate to get home?
Justin Trudeau: (18:47)
It is extremely important that everyone returning to Canada isolate themselves for 14 days. This is a measure that will both keep them safe and prevent further spread of coronavirus through Canada. This is something that we require of every single Canadian coming to this country. We will continue to tell people that. We will continue to highlight that. We will continue to require that of anyone coming into Canada, that they isolate at home for 14 days in order to protect everyone in the country.
Speaker 7: (19:27)
How can you required it if it’s not mandatory?
Justin Trudeau: (19:29)
It is required for people to stay at home for 14 days.
Speaker 7: (19:33)
But it’s not mandatory.
Olivia Stefanovich: (19:38)
Olivia Stefanovich, CBC News. Prime Minister, we’ve learned that sick Canadian travelers are masking COVID-19 symptoms to get through airport screening. Why does Canada not test temperatures, screen air passengers for fever, or use thermal screening at airports? Should there be thermal screening and consequences for those who mask their symptoms?
Justin Trudeau: (19:59)
We recognize that there are many concerns about passengers returning to Canada, which is why we’re asking people to immediately isolate as soon as they get home. It is a requirement. We also know that there are different countries using various technologies and we will continue to look at what is the best way to keep Canadian safe. There have been a lot of discussion around thermal screening and taking temperatures and spot checks. One of the lessons learned from SARS is that it is simply not effective the way people would like it to be and it can sometimes give a false sense of assurance. This is what the best medical advice and best science advice we are getting is, but we are always open to hearing stronger or different science that says or different recommendations that say its worth. But we will make sure that what we choose to do, how we choose to deploy our resources are in the right way to actually help Canadians and actually arrest the spread of this virus.
Olivia Stefanovich: (21:04)
But, Prime Minister, should there be testing and should passengers who are returning to Canada, should there be consequences for those who mask their symptoms, and should these passengers also be forced to sign a document to make sure they self-isolate? How can you ensure that?
Justin Trudeau: (21:16)
We know that people need to isolate when they land in Canada. They agree to an attestation on their processing when they arrive, that they will self-isolate for 14 days. That is an important thing. And Canadians with symptoms will not be allowed to board flights coming home. That is a difficult measure, I know, for many people, for many families, but we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep Canadians safe.
Olivia Stefanovich: (21:46)
But some passengers are masking their symptoms. What are the consequences for that.
Justin Trudeau: (21:50)
Okay. We will continue to do what is necessary and have been explaining to people what it is they need to do in order to keep themselves safe and keep Canadians safe.
Speaker 9: (22:11)
Speaker 10: (22:12)
[French 00:22:12] Thank you. If you have any questions, please press star one on your telephone keypad.
Speaker 10: (22:14)
Speaker 10: (22:19)
The first question is from Levon Sevunts from Radio Canada International. Please go ahead.
Levon Sevunts: (22:26)
Yes. Hello, Prime Minister. Canada, when you came to power, you announced that Canada is the back. The United Nations is asking for $2 billion in emergency funding for COVID-19. Is your government prepared to join this [inaudible 00:22:50] and is Canada setting aside equipment to send to countries that are very hard hit and not buy this equipment on the markets?
Justin Trudeau: (23:03)
In our billion dollar COVID-19 response announced last week, we had already set aside money for international efforts. We, of course, will work with the UN, continue to work with international partners on financial support to ensure that we can respond to this global pandemic with global resources. Canada will be there to participate. And I can also highlight on your second question that we are ramping up production of necessary equipment of emergency medical equipment of medications. We know that there is a potential need for much more in Canada, but there is certainly a need for much more around the world and Canada will be part of the solution, not just to make sure that Canada has all the equipment and supplies needed for our citizens should the situation get worse, but we will have hopefully, equipment and supplies to share with the vulnerable parts of the world that will desperately need help.
Speaker 9: (24:09)
Speaker 10: (24:09)
Thank you. [French 00:24:13].
Speaker 10: (24:15)
The next question is Frasios Karabane. [French 00:24:19] Please go ahead. Your line is now open. [French 00:24:21].
Speaker 9: (25:49)
Speaker 10: (25:49)
Thank you. [French 00:26:07] The next question is from Justin Ling from Freelance. Please go ahead, your line is now open. [French 00:26:14]
Justin Ling: (26:16)
Hi there, Prime Minister. Last week I asked you about the possibility of reducing the prison population to help combat a potential spread of COVID-19. Since then, I’ve heard from prisoners, inmates, and guards who’ve said that prisons are not ready, that their release is not being contemplated, that there’s not enough soap, that sanitary conditions are even worse and the guards are being allowed into the prisons even after returning from abroad. What, if anything are you going to do to continue reducing the risk in Canada’s federal institutions and in releasing inmates, non-violent offenders on the table?
Justin Trudeau: (26:51)
We recognize that the incarcerated population is at greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. That is why we are working closely with Corrections Canada to ensure that we’re looking at a broad range of measures to keep both those who work in our correctional facilities, but also those who are residents there to make sure that we’re doing things that will keep them safe. I have said multiple times, we are not taking anything off the table in terms of options in order to keep Canadians safe, and we will continue our discussions with Corrections Canada to look at options and to look at ways that we’re going to keep people safe right across the country, wherever they be.
Speaker 9: (27:34)
Justin Trudeau: (27:36)
Speaker 10: (27:41)