Mar 30, 2020

Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Briefing Transcript March 30

Justin Trudeau Press Briefing March 30
RevBlogTranscriptsJustin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Briefing Transcript March 30

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a news conference on coronavirus in Canada on March 30. Trudeu gave details on wage subsidies and loan programs for businesses. Read the full transcript here.


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Justin Trudeau: (00:06)
Still warm from the printer. Apologies. Hello everyone. [French 00:00:12] To help employers keep people on the payroll, we announced that the government would subsidize up to 75% of wages for qualifying businesses. We know what businesses are going through. Over the past weeks, you’ve had to get creative to keep money coming in, and in some cases you’ve had to make the difficult decision of letting your employees go. For people to get through this tough time and for the economy to rebound, people have to keep their jobs. So we announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Justin Trudeau: (01:43)
I said last week that we’d have more details to share, and that’s the first thing I want to talk with you about today. If your business’ revenues have decreased by at least 30% because of COVID-19, you will be eligible for this subsidy. The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support. It will apply to nonprofit organizations and charities, as well as companies both big and small.

Justin Trudeau: (02:14)
This is about making sure that people are still getting paid, whether they work for a business that employs 10 people or a thousand people. So here’s what this means for workers. If you work for a company that has been impacted by COVID-19, the government will cover up to 75% of your salary on the first $58,700 that you earn. That means up to $847 a week.

Justin Trudeau: (02:47)
As I mentioned on Friday, this will be backdated to March 15th. This subsidy will make a real difference in your lives and help everyone affected, bridge to better times. In Quebec is going to help trucking and logistics company Energy Transportation Group to stay in business so they can keep moving essential goods like food and toilet paper. In Calgary, it’ll give a little breathing room to the Benj hair salon, which had to close shop to protect the health and safety of their clients. Minister Morneau and Minister Ng are working hard to give companies the background documents explaining the technical details of this measure. And on that note, I want to thank the public service who is working around the clock to get this done. [French 00:03:37] This subsidy is first and foremost about you, about hardworking employees across the country. It’s about making sure you have money to buy groceries right now and a job to come back to later, once we’re through this. Every business of every size is having to make some difficult decisions because of COVID-19 and that’s why the number of employees is not the eligibility criteria we’ve chosen. This is in line with best practices we’ve observed in other countries.

Justin Trudeau: (05:32)
That said, I want to offer a word of caution to businesses. We are trusting you to do the right thing. If you have the means to pay the remaining 25% that’s not covered by the subsidy, please do so. And if you think this is a system you can take advantage of or game, don’t. There will be serious consequences for those who do.

Justin Trudeau: (05:58)
This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action and it calls for good faith and trust between everyone involved. We are in this together and that’s why our government is stepping up to help all employers keep their employees. But for this to work, everyone has to do their part. Every dollar of this should go to workers. You should make every effort to top up their wages and every effort to hire back those workers who’ve been laid off in the past two weeks because of COVID-19.

Justin Trudeau: (06:36)
That’s why we set up a comprehensive three-point plan to support everyone across the economy weather the storm and come roaring back. With the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy we’re protecting jobs. With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit we’re helping those who lose their job. And with easy guaranteed loans for businesses of all sizes we’re helping people who need it access credit. [French 00:07:04]

Justin Trudeau: (07:04)
Since the beginning of this crisis our top priority is to get you the help you need. To do that our government must be ready for every scenario. Over the past few weeks, the Canadian armed forces have been gearing up to support our efforts and our communities as we fight COVID-19. Our women and men in uniform have always been there for Canadians in their time of need, and this pandemic is no exception. [French 00:09:24]

Justin Trudeau: (10:22)
[foreign language 00:00:00].

Justin Trudeau: (10:27)
I know we’re all looking forward to the day when things are back to normal, but for that to happen, we all need to keep taking the right steps today. It means following public health recommendations. You know the drill. Stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands often, and keep at least two meters from each other.

Justin Trudeau: (10:51)
And our government will keep doing everything we can to make sure workers are getting paid, and companies are supported. The measures we’ve announced will help do just that, and ensure that our economy is well positioned to recover from this. We’re going through a tough time right now altogether, but you know your government has your back. And as always, if we need to do more, we will do more.

Justin Trudeau: (11:22)
I want to close this morning by thanking all first responders across the country who are doing an incredible job for all Canadians. Medical professionals, first responders, custodial staff, farmers, people who work along the supply chain, thank you. Going to work right now is stressful and I know you’re worried, but we are doing everything we can to keep you safe. You are doing essential work, and we cannot thank you enough. As always, Canada and Canadians, we’ll get through this by leaning on each other, and everyone doing their part. [foreign language 00:02:03].

Speaker 1: (12:06)
[foreign language 00:02:05].

Speaker 2: (12:10)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:02:12], the first question is from Ryan [inaudible 00:02:17], National Post. Your line is open.

Ryan: (12:21)
Yeah. Good morning Prime Minister. I’m wondering with the wage subsidy, do you have a estimate right now as to what that’ll cost the treasury, what the overall costs of that will be?

Justin Trudeau: (12:31)
We have been making changes to what we’ve been doing over the past days and weeks. These costs keep climbing, but I can assure people that our focus right now is on making sure that Canadians keep their jobs, even if they’re not working at them right now, and keep their paychecks rolling in, that people who lose their jobs get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to them, get through this difficult time, and that there is credit to access for companies and businesses who need to bridge through in the coming weeks. Our focus is on making sure that Canadians are safe now, and that our economy can bounce back strongly after this time of slowdown, of stoppage, is done.

Justin Trudeau: (13:24)
Fortunately, Canada has taken responsible decisions over past many years to have one of the best balance sheets in the G7. We have been making sure that we have money aside for a rainy day. Well, it’s raining, and we are now able to invest in Canadians, to support Canadians, as we make the difficult decisions needed to get through this and come back stronger than ever before.

Ryan: (13:51)
But do you even have sort of a ballpark estimate? Is this going to be in the tens of billions, hundreds of billions?

Justin Trudeau: (14:00)
The Finance Minister will be addressing Canadians, alongside the Minister of Small Businesses and others, tomorrow with many more details, including detailed costings and expectations. Right now our focus is on creating a program that is going to help Canadians keep their jobs, stay in their jobs, even if they’re staying at home, so we can all do the things we need to do to keep ourselves safe, to keep our families safe, to keep our health workers safe, and to keep all Canadians safe. We will get through this. That’s what this is about.

Justin Trudeau: (14:36)
[foreign language 00: 04:37].

Speaker 1: (15:21)
[foreign language 00:05:29].

Speaker 2: (15:32)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:15:33].

Speaker 3: (15:33)
[foreign language 00:15:39].

Justin Trudeau: (15:33)
[foreign language 00:15:49].

Speaker 3: (15:33)
[foreign language 00:16:57].

Justin Trudeau: (15:33)
[foreign language 00:17:12].

Speaker 1: (16:38)
[foreign language 00:08:06].

Speaker 2: (16:42)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:08:10].

Speaker 4: (16:43)
[foreign language 00:18:15].

Justin Trudeau: (16:43)
[foreign language 00:18:35].

Speaker 4: (16:43)
[foreign language 00:18:57].

Justin Trudeau: (16:43)
[foreign language 00:19:20].

Justin Trudeau: (20:00)
[French 00:00:01].

Speaker 5: (20:12)
[French 00:00:21].

Moderator: (20:21)
Thank you, merci. The next question, Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun. Your line is open.

Brian Lilley: (20:28)
Prime Minister, I’m wondering with the economic hardship that so many Canadians are facing, even once this wage subsidy does kick in, have you or other MPs thought of forgoing your raise that kicks in on April 1st or pausing the carbon tax that is said to go up by 50% on April 1st?

Justin Trudeau: (20:49)
The price on pollution has been designed as to put more money in households’ pockets, more money in the pockets of the middle class while we do the things that are necessary to fight pollution and protect our planet. That is something we are going to continue to do because we know that we need to do things to make sure that we’re both supporting families through ordinary times and through difficult times and moving forward on continuing the fight against climate change, which remains even at a time of immediate crisis and pandemic. In regards to salaries, I haven’t heard the Parliament of Canada having those discussions, but I’m sure they will reflect on it now that you’ve asked the question. Okay.

Justin Trudeau: (21:37)
[French 00:01:37].

Brian Lilley: (21:40)
The travel screening measures that you talked about on Saturday, you had previously dismissed those for international flights. You had dismissed calls for banning travel earlier on even just less than two weeks before you eventually did. At that point, most of the cases of COVID-19 were travelers coming into Canada. Now it’s 63% community spread. Do you regret not acting sooner on travel restrictions at airports for international flights from hotspots?

Justin Trudeau: (22:31)
I think there are going to be lots of analyses after the fact around what happened when, what could have happened a few days earlier, what only needed to happen a few days later. Our focus every step of the way is doing what was necessary at every moment based on the recommendations of experts, based on science, and doing what we can to keep Canadians safe. We’re obviously not, in an unprecedented situation, always going to get things perfectly right, but we are going to continue to be committed to doing the right things as best we can and figuring out what works, what doesn’t work, and moving forward in a way that is both nimble and focused on helping Canadians in so much as a government can be nimble and agile. I think we’ve demonstrated that we’re going to stay focused on Canadians and doing the right things and that’s what we’ll do.

Julie Van Dusen: (23:25)
Prime Minister, Julie Van Dusen, CBC. Hi. How can you get an accurate picture of the extent of COVID in this country without more testing, a lot more testing, especially of those who work in essential services who may be out there without symptoms and spreading the virus and not even know it?

Justin Trudeau: (23:44)
Over the past few weeks we’ve been ramping up massively our testing capacities and that continues both with more tests, with better tests, with different kinds of tests, with tests that return results more quickly. These are the kinds of things we know are an essential part of managing the spread of the disease and indeed reducing the spread of this disease. We will continue to ramp up our testing efforts but at the same time the measures around self-isolation that have been put into place are also going to be extremely effective for keeping people at home. If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate, take measures to not spread and whether or not you get a test back immediately or tested right away, you can take measures through self-isolating yourself that will prevent the spread. As we move forward, we will get more and more measures to test more accurately, test more rapidly, get those results back and keep Canadians safe. But right now these self-isolation measures are an extremely important thing while we ramp up our testing capacities. Okay.

Justin Trudeau: (24:54)
[French 00:04:56].

Julie Van Dusen: (25:52)
And it’s not clear where you stand on the energy sector and if there will be help for the energy sector, and with Canadian oil opening up at less than $ 5 a barrel today, is there going to be any specific help for the energy sector? And if so, when?

Justin Trudeau: (26:06)
Well, first of all, the emergency wage subsidy that we’ve announced will help companies large and small across all sectors of the economy and that will go a long way towards reassuring Canadians and workers that they’re going to be able to get through the coming weeks. At the same time, we recognize there are certain industries that have been extremely hard hit by both the drop in oil prices and the COVID-19 challenge, whether it’s airlines or oil and gas or tourism, there are significant areas where we’re going to have to do more. And as I’ve said from the very beginning, we will be doing more. Okay.

Justin Trudeau: (26:44)
[French 00: 07:22].

Janet Silver: (27:23)
Good morning Prime Minister, Janet Silver, Global News. Why isn’t the federal government releasing their modeling numbers. In addition, what about predictions there could be a second and third wave, and if you could answer in French please. Thank you.

Justin Trudeau: (27:37)
We will continue to release the information we have in as accurate a way as possible for Canadians to see how we’re doing and where we are going. At the same time, we recognize that what’s going to happen a week from now, two weeks from now, a month from now is extremely dependent on how people are behaving today and with the built-in lag in COVID-19, around two weeks, with the delays in getting test results and in getting results from provinces, we know that there’s not always an accurate picture today of what’s happening today. That’s why we’re going to keep modeling the different scenarios that could happen and continue to emphasize to Canadians how important it is that they abide by the rules and recommendations and guidelines set forward by Health Canada, by Public Health Agency of Canada.

Justin Trudeau: (29:01)
[ French 00:08:34].

Kevin Gallagher: (29:07)
Prime Minister, Kevin Gallagher, CTV National News. Today, new screening measures are coming in place for airlines and trains. I’m wondering, many of these people who are conducting these tests to screen passengers for symptoms of COVID-19 are not medical professionals. So how are they expected to adequately do their jobs and what type of training and protective equipment will these people have?

Justin Trudeau: (29:30)
The fundamental principle we’ve put forward is if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you feel you might have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home, self-isolate, don’t go outside, don’t travel. That is what we’re asking of all Canadians and these measures we’ve brought in for airlines and railways is an additional measure, an additional encouragement and expectation that people who have symptoms of a cold or of COVID-

Justin Trudeau: (30:03)
19 will not travel. That is extremely important and it’s something that, like so many of these measures we put in place, is going to rely on people stepping up, doing what is right and not traveling if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Speaker 6: (30:17)
Last week, the business loan of, excuse me, many pubs and bars and cannabis industry businesses are wondering why they don’t qualify for that extended credit for businesses.

Justin Trudeau: (30:34)
What we’re putting forward right now is a wage subsidy that will help restaurants and bars and a range of businesses that have seen significant declines in their revenues because of COVID-19 and who’ve, in many cases, had to or are about to have to lay off their workers. Now, they will be able to keep them on the payroll at 75% or more if they can top it up of their salaries so that when we are through this, they will be able to pick up again where we left off and get our economy roaring back. That is our focus right now. In terms of access to credit. There are many mechanisms out there for businesses of all different sizes to access credit. For small businesses, there’s a $40,000 loan of which $10,000 will not have to be repaid if they meet certain conditions. There are many things we’re doing out there with low interest or no interest loans to help businesses get through this, but the wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who lose their jobs are going to be there to make sure that we come through this strongly.

Speaker 7: (31:49)
[foreign language 00:01:49]

Justin Trudeau: (31:50)
[foreign language 00:32:12]

Speaker 7: (31:50)
[foreign language 00:32:59]

Justin Trudeau: (31:50)
[foreign language 00:33:08]

Speaker 8: (33:59)
Thanks, Prime Minister. Nick Taylor [Gracie from McClain’s 00:34:00]. It’s nearly April 1st and thousands of candidate’s smallest businesses are wondering how they’re going to pay rent. Their workers are now covered largely by measures you’ve already announced, but the business owners themselves simply just can’t take on more debt, even interest free loans. Is rent relief on the table for them?

Justin Trudeau: (34:20)
We know that the significant part of business expenses are around payroll and our focus is right now on supporting workers, supporting Canadians so they can stay home, so they can make sure we’re doing the things we need to get through this as quickly and as well as we possibly can. Our focus right now is on this wage subsidy of 75% for employers who need it. That’ll give Canadian workers up to $847 a week, depending on what their salary is. These are measures that will make a huge difference in relief for businesses and relief for workers in ensuring our capacity to bounce back, to rush back strongly when this is all through.

Justin Trudeau: (35:12)
That is our focus right now. But as I’ve said, these are measures we’re doing now. We are always going to look at, are there more things we need to do? Are there other ways that we can and must help people get through this difficult time? We will continue to listen and work with people to make sure that we’re able to come through this as strongly as possible and get out the other side as strongly as possible.

Speaker 9: (35:36)
[foreign language 00:05:37].

Justin Trudeau: (35:40)
[foreign language 00:35:40]

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