Apr 21, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference April 21
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s April 21 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau promised $350M for Canadian charities and non-profits.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:08)
[Foreign language 00:00:08]. Hello, everyone. I want to begin by noting Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today we remember the six million innocent Jewish men, women and children who were systematically murdered by the Nazis. We also pay tribute to the bravery and resilience of survivors and of all of those who risk their lives to save others during the Holocaust. [Foreign language 00:00:34] Yom HaShoah. [Foreign language 00:00:36] Holocaust. [Foreign language 00:00:40]. This morning I want to again extend my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible Nova Scotia attacks. Since yesterday, I’ve had the chance to speak with Constable Chad Morrison, the RCMP officer who was wounded as well as Constable Heidi Stevenson’s family. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank them for their service and their sacrifice. Yesterday, when I offered my sympathies to the RCMP officers who support me, I was amazed to see how many of them knew Heidi and had incredibly fond memories of her. They’d worked with her on the musical ride. They remembered her as an extraordinary person and it really goes to show just how tightly knit, not just the RCMP is as a force, but how close we are as a country. [Foreign language 00:02:02].
Justin Trudeau: (02:02)
Yesterday, afternoon I visited the Canadian Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial on Parliament Hill to pay tribute to Constable Stevenson and to recognize the contributions of all law enforcement members to keep us safe. I also spoke to a number of colleagues from Nova Scotia both past and present and sought Senator Stan Kutcher’s advice, both as a Nova Scotian and as a mental health expert. These calls reinforced what we all know about Nova Scotia, that it’s a special place where people stick together and look out for each other. This week we are all Nova Scotia. The families of the victims can count on the unwavering support, not only of their neighbors, but of every single Canadian. [Foreign language 00:03:28].
Justin Trudeau: (05:55)
Long before this pandemic, charities and nonprofit organizations were doing crucial work to help our communities. Their mission has always been to support people in their time of need and that hasn’t changed. But COVID-19 is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on those organizations because more people need help. For example, back in March, one United Way partner in Winnipeg made and distributed 1,475 emergency kits for families, seniors, and homeless people in just five days. Organizations have also had to change the way they deliver services because of the rules that everyone has to follow to keep each other safe. Here in Ottawa, there are a number of organizations that are focused on serving isolated seniors. Usually, they have day programs where seniors can socialize, participate in activities, eat well and maintain a connection to their community. That’s no longer possible because of COVID-19 so organizations are now delivering meals and providing support via phone. In Toronto, Tropicana Community Services is now helping vulnerable youth access their COVID-19 benefits. It takes resources to make these kinds of adjustments, resources these groups don’t have because they’re spread so thin trying to help as many people as possible. So to support charities and nonprofits in their important work, our government is setting up the $350 million emergency community support fund. A portion of these funds will go directly to smaller independent frontline organizations and the rest will flow through national organizations like the United Way Community Foundations Canada and the Red Cross that can get funds to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly. This is money for things like training volunteers, increasing at home deliveries for seniors or driving people with disabilities to appointments. With this fund, we’re giving more resources to charities and nonprofits so they can adapt to the new realities and difficulties brought on by this pandemic. [Foreign language 00:08:09]. Our government is also helping business owners and entrepreneurs adapt to a new reality with the Canada emergency wage subsidy. This new measure gives qualifying employers up to $847 per employee each week so they can keep people on the payroll. Today, we’re launching a new calculator on the CRA website so businesses can determine the amount they can expect to claim through the wage subsidy. Employers will be able to apply as of this Monday, April 27th. Later today, minister [Duclos 00:09:41] will be providing more details regarding the rollout of this program.
Justin Trudeau: (09:47)
I want to turn now to some encouraging news on the innovation front. Our super cluster initiative brings together small, medium-sized and large companies, academic institutions and not for profit organizations to generate bold ideas and innovate. So a few weeks ago, the digital technology super cluster challenged its network of over 500 firms to come up with solutions to help Canadians get through this pandemic. They received over 300 submissions and they are now moving forward on a number of key projects. Toronto’s DNAstack is developing a new cloud based network that allows researchers who are looking to improve our ability to diagnose and treat COVID-19 to share their findings. Another company, FOOD-X, is working with its partners to develop an Egrocery management system to make sure our healthcare workers, seniors, and others have access to fresh food during this crisis. Canadian innovators are among the best in the world, and it’s great to see so many of them use their talents to help our communities. This is yet another example of what we can achieve when we work together as team Canada.
Justin Trudeau: (11:03)
[foreign language 00:11:05]
Speaker 1: (11:06)
Thank you, Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phone lines for questions. Just one question, one follow up. Over to you, operator.
Thank you, [foreign language 00:12:00]. First question, Kristy Kirkup, The Globe and Mail. Line open.
Kristy Kirkup: (12:06)
Good morning, Prime Minister. How will you help millions of Canadians who now find themselves without medical benefits during a global pandemic?
Justin Trudeau: (12:16)
We know that the way we get through this particular crisis is by pulling together and making sure those who are most vulnerable get the support they need to stay healthy, to stay isolated, and get through this. That’s key, not just to remain true to our values, and protecting people, including the most vulnerable, but it’s also key to being able to recover quickly, once we are through this pandemic. That’s why we continue to work with partners across the country to highlight gaps, and challenges, and things we need to do more to help people afford costs of living that is in many cases going up because of this crisis. We will continue to work with partners to make sure we’re getting that help out there.
Speaker 1: (13:41)
Follow up, Christie?
Kristy Kirkup: (13:42)
Millions of Canadians are finding themselves still without medical benefits, because they have been laid off. Dr. Eric [Hoskins 00:13:51] has said that Ottawa could cover the costs of the provinces and territories bringing Canadians into their formularies as an interim step to help. Is this something your government is willing to do?
Justin Trudeau: (14:02)
We’re going to continue to work with all sorts of experts and smart, smart folks making recommendations from across the country in different ways, to make sure we’re doing everything we need to help Canadians through this crisis. We’re always looking for more things to do. We will continue to do the things that need to be done in order to help Canadians.
Speaker 1: (14:27)
Thank you, next question, operator.
Thank you, [foreign language 00:14:47].
In English, please.
Justin Trudeau: (15:54)
Okay. We recognize the need for support as quickly as possible. That’s why we’re working extremely hard to get help out to people. We started with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which has now helped over eight million people across this country and made a significant difference. We also want other people to get the emergency wage subsidy, which means working with businesses to keep people on the payroll through this, so that they can not only maintain a job, but have a job to get back quickly to as soon as the economy picks up again.
Justin Trudeau: (16:32)
We have announced that on Monday, people will be able to register for this online. As of today, however, they can see what the amount they are likely to be able to get through this and be confident in their ability to access credit from banks, from agencies like BDC and EDC, to be able to support people right now in this time of need. We’re moving as quickly as we can. We moved very quickly on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. We hope to be able to get this help out to businesses to keep employees on their payroll as quickly as possible.
Speaker 1: (17:12)
[foreign language 00:17:12], Michelle?
Speaker 1: (18:07)
[foreign language 00:18:07], operator?
Thank you, [foreign language 00:18:10]. Next question, Charlie Pinkerton, iPolitics. Line open.
Charlie Pinkerton: (18:17)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Yesterday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he intends to introduce stricter gun laws as soon as possible, and you said your government was on the verge of introducing an assault rifle ban before the pandemic caused Parliament to suspend. Will a gun control bill be introduced in the restricted version of Parliament that we see during the pandemic, or will it have to wait until Parliament returns to normal sittings?
Justin Trudeau: (18:40)
Obviously, we are all reeling from the tragedy in Nova Scotia, and our focus right now is on supporting those families as quickly as possible, and as well as we possibly can. On gun control legislation, we made strong commitments to move forward with that rapidly. As you mentioned, we were on the verge of bringing it in before Parliament was suspended through COVID-19. We’re now looking at the right way and the right moment to bring it forward. The tragedy in Nova Scotia simply reinforces and underlines how important it is for us to continue to move forward on strengthening gun control in this country. We will do that at the appropriate time.
Speaker 1: (20:12)
Follow up, Charlie?
Charlie Pinkerton: (20:16)
Which of your government’s promised gun control measures will it be that it introduces first? Will it be the assault rifle ban or something else, perhaps influenced by what happened over the weekend?
Justin Trudeau: (20:25)
The legislation on the assault rifle ban was ready, almost ready to go when the Parliament suspended. I expect that’ll be the first measures we bring forward. Of course, as we learn more about this terrible, terrible tragedy in Nova Scotia, we will keep reflecting on ways that we need to help Canadians stay safe in their communities, in their homes, and across the country.
Speaker 1: (20:53)
Thank you. One more question on the phone, please, operator.
Thank you, [foreign language 00:20:57].
Justin Trudeau: (22:00)
[foreign language 00:00: 00]. I got more information on the issues around the two planes that landed empty yesterday. One was a Government of Canada charter. The other was chartered by a specific province for one of their orders. There are severe restrictions on the ground in China in terms of how long a plane can actually stay in their airports before having to leave, whether it’s full or not. And at the same time, supply lines and truck shipments to the airports are difficult and interrupted by checkpoints and quarantine measures. For the most part, we’ve been able to navigate through those and ensure that Canada has received the equipment that it needs. But these two airplanes were forced to take off empty. We will continue to work through a very difficult situation to ensure that as we have been, we make sure that Canadian provinces, Canadian institutions get the equipment that they so desperately need. We’re continuing to receive millions of pieces of PPE over the past days. We expect many more over the next days and weeks, as well as Canadian industrial facilities tooling up their ability to deliver PPEs.
Justin Trudeau: (24:04)
It’s always a challenge to get the PPE into Canada and at a time where the global market is very, very competitive for these. But we have managed so far to get the equipment that provinces have asked for and we will continue to make sure we’re prioritizing support for our frontline workers who are going into a battle every day against this virus.
Speaker 4: (24:32)
[ foreign language 00: 02:36].
Justin Trudeau: (25:09)
[foreign language 00:03:00].
Molly Thomas: (25:16)
Hi, Prime Minister Molly Thomas, CTV National News. I want to ask you a question on behalf of Nick Beaton who lost his wife Kristin from the senseless violence in Nova Scotia this weekend. He just spoke with our Chief Anchor [Lisa Flam 00:00:25:31], his wife Kristin died. She was a front line worker, a dedicated nurse and was also pregnant and she was forced to reuse her personal protective equipment because there was not enough. So on behalf of Nick, let me ask you this question. Why aren’t there enough PPEs for nurses and other healthcare workers not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country and where is the supply chain broken and what are we going to do about it?
Justin Trudeau: (25:54)
Okay. First of all, to Nick and to all the families going through a heart wrenching loss right now, looking for answers, looking for reasons, looking for support. We are there for you who we will be there for you. Like so many people across the country who are worried about what the next days will bring and what the challenges are facing, our frontline workers have been worried about the continued availability of personal protection equipment.
Justin Trudeau: (26:28)
We’ve seen a number of provinces talk about possible shortages a number of days away, a number of days away. We’ve managed to cover those, but we are in a situation where people were having to make choices to try and stretch out our PPE as long as possible. Different provinces are managing their stockpiles differently. The Federal Government is there to support provinces in their requests and up until this point and beyond this point, have been able to respond to the specific requests that provinces have made. At the same time, we have been fighting in a very competitive international environment where everyone is looking for PPE, which is why we’ve made significant investments in domestic capacity to make the kinds of equipment that is going help frontline health workers safe across the country.
Molly Thomas: (29:16)
Prime Minister, you said there that you’ve been able to deliver personal protective equipment to what the provinces have needed, but isn’t the supply chain broken if a pregnant nurse has to reuse masks and gloves?
Justin Trudeau: (29:27)
Mike Liqiter: (30:01)
Mike [Liqiter 00:30:37] with Global National. Prime Minister, when you were talking about the gun control legislation, you brought up the tragedy in Nova Scotia. I wanted to know if you’ve been briefed on what kind of gun or guns were used in Nova Scotia. Do we know that they were legal and based on that, how would your proposed gun control legislation have potentially prevented this shooting?
Justin Trudeau: (30:57)
There is still a tremendous investigation going on by the RCMP right now. There are many, many different sites, many different questions that a lot of people have and I’m going to trust the RCMP on releasing information as they they feel it is important to.
Mike Liqiter: (31:17)
But with regards to the gun control, why you joining the two?
Justin Trudeau: (31:20)
We have gun control legislation ready to move forward on. We were almost ready to move forward on it a number of weeks ago. We continue to see it as a priority. We had every intention and have every intention of continuing to move forward on it when things restore to order. It did not need or take this tragedy for us to be committed to gun control. We’ve long been committed to it. This is just another tragic reminder of the fact that we need to do more to keep Canadians safe.
Mike Liqiter: (31:53)
I’m sorry. Just as my followup on the World Health Organization, Ireland had said it’s going to quadruple funding for the WHO amd Australia and the UK are calling for an independent investigation into China’s handling of the crisis. All of them are Canadian allies, so is Canada going to up our contribution to the WHO and are we going to be calling for an investigation?
Justin Trudeau: (32:12)
We have been increasing our contribution to the WHO in order to deal with this pandemic. We fund them to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year. At the same time, we do need to find answers to how this happened, so we understand how to ensure that it never happens again, and that is certainly something Canada is going to be part of.
Tom Perry: (33:00)
Tom Perry with CBC, Prime Minister, we’ve seen outbreaks of COVID-19-
Tom Perry: (33:03)
… at meat-packing plants in Alberta. Should Canadians be concerned about the security of their food supply chain? What more can the government do to protect that supply chain?
Justin Trudeau: (33:13)
We have heard from a Canadian beef producers and associations that the priority will be ensuring Canadian supply before they move to exporting. Much of our beef is exported, but right now the priority will be on domestic supply. We are not at this point anticipating shortages of beef, but prices might go up. We will of course be monitoring that very, very carefully.
Justin Trudeau: (33:40)
At the same time, we know that it is extremely important to do everything we can to keep Canadians safe, to keep workers in all industries across this country, essential or not, as safe as we possibly can. I’m pleased to see measures being taken to reflect on how to keep people safe.
Speaker 5: (33:59)
Tom Perry: (34:08)
On oil prices, is there going to be further support for the oil industry? Beyond that, will there’ll be support for provinces that rely heavily on oil revenues and might need help with their finances, their debt to recover from this downturn?
Justin Trudeau: (35:05)
Our focus from the beginning has been on helping Canadians, families, workers across this country and we have put in place a significant measures that have an impact on all industries, including the oil industry, with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the wage subsidy which have helped thousands of workers across Alberta, across the oil sector in this country. We’ve moved forward on other measures as well to help out that sector specifically. We’re always open to working more on helping particular industries or particular areas that to need support to get through this COVID-19 crisis. We will continue those discussions.
Justin Trudeau: (35:48)
On supporting provinces, we recognize that various provinces are facing real challenges in terms of cash crunches, in terms of liquidity, and our department of finance and others are engaged closely with different provinces on challenges that they’re facing. Specifically
Justin Trudeau: (36:07)
Speaker 5: (36:07)
In English, on the encouraging signs.
Justin Trudeau: (38:26)
As I’ve said a couple of times, I think there is reason for cautious optimism. We’re hearing that from medical officers across the province, across the country, noting that the increase in cases is getting smaller every day in many places that we’re still seeing more cases every day, but fewer than in previous days, which is a sign that our efforts are working. We are continuing to do the right things as a country that is getting this virus under control. However, we need to continue to do those things because as soon as we loosen up, if we loosen up too quickly or if we’re not careful, we could see a return spike of COVID-19 that would be problematic for citizens and for the economic recovery. We’re going to focus on making sure we’re doing things very, very carefully. But it is encouraging to see that the things Canadians are doing from coast to coast to coast to help each other out to stay safe are working. That’s why we need to continue them.
Speaker 6: (39:33)