Apr 23, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference April 23
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s April 23 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau announced $1.1B for vaccine development. Read his full updates here.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:07)
Today at sundown marks the beginning of Ramadan. For many Muslim Canadians, the coming month will be different than normal with Iftar online and virtual Friday prayers. But that won’t change what this special time is all about: generosity, compassion, and service to others. Across the country, Muslim Canadians are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as nurses, doctors, and essential workers. So thank you. And Ramadan Mubarak.
Justin Trudeau: (00:39)
[foreign language 00:00:40]. This will be another difficult day for many families and communities across the country. We’re all thinking about those in Nova Scotia who are grieving the loss of loved ones, friends and neighbors. Yesterday I spoke with the families of some of the people we lost. They shared stories about their loved ones and their dreams and plans. In the face of such tragedy, their strength is remarkable. I spoke also with RCMP members from the area and on behalf of all Canadians, I thank them for their service. And I spoke with some local mayors as well to express my condolences.
Justin Trudeau: (01:50)
For Torontonians, I know it’ll be a hard day as well as we remember the victims of the van attack on Young Street two years ago. Together we mourn and together we heal because, just as Canadians were there for each other two years ago, we’re there for each other today. Across the country, people are hanging tartan, blue ribbons and scarves from windows to honor those who died. With acts of kindness and donations, people are standing with families who are grieving and tomorrow with the virtual vigil, we will all have the chance to show the people of Nova Scotia that they are not alone.
Justin Trudeau: (02:35)
[foreign language 00:02:35]. These are tough times but there is reason to hope. When it comes to COVID-19, what we’re doing is working. To continue on the right track, we need to be thinking not just about the next weeks but about the next months. We need medium-term and long-term solutions. On that front, I can announce today that we’re taking another step forward. We’re putting in place an additional $1.1 billion for a national medical and research strategy to address COVID-19. This plan has three pillars: research on vaccines and other treatments, supports for clinical trials and expanding national testing and modeling.
Justin Trudeau: (03:50)
Let me start with the first pillar on research. Under this plan we’re investing close to $115 million for research into vaccines and treatments being developed in hospitals and universities across the country. This is on top of the funding we’ve already provided to support vaccine development in Canada.
Justin Trudeau: (04:12)
The second pillar of the plan is to make sure that once we have potential vaccines and treatments, we can test a wide range of options. Under this plan we will invest over $662 million for clinical trials led by Canada. A vaccine is the long-term solution to this virus, but these drugs will take months to develop, test, fabricate and rollout. So until we have something ready, we need to control the spread of the virus. And that’s where the third pillar of this plan comes in.
Justin Trudeau: (04:48)
We’re investing $350 million to expand national testing and modeling of COVID-19. This includes creating the COVID-19 immunity task force. The task force will operate under the direction of a leadership group, which will include Dr. David Naylor, Dr. Katherine Hankins, Dr. Tim Evans, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Dr. Mona Nemer.
Justin Trudeau: (05:14)
We are bringing together top health experts and scientists from leaning institutions across the country. Canada’s best and brightest will be working on serology testing, blood testing to track and understand immunity to COVID-19. They’ll be looking at key questions like how many people beyond those we’ve already tested have had COVID-19, whether you’re immune once you’ve had it, and if so, how long that lasts. Over two years, we will be testing at least a million Canadians as a part of this study. The findings of the research will help with everything from rollouts of a potential vaccine to determining which public health measures are most effective going forward. We will get valuable data including disaggregated data to understand the impact on vulnerable populations and we will also leverage new and existing lab capacity for research. The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it and eventually defeat it.
Justin Trudeau: (06:21)
While this vital research is happening, we’re also staying focused on what we can do right now to control COVID-19 and get back to normal as soon as possible. Testing is key. We’ve now reached 20,000 tests daily, almost double where we were earlier this month, but testing must increase even further before we can reopen and restart our normal activities as a country. You’ve been doing your part by staying home and practicing physical distancing. It’s working and we can’t afford to waste this progress.
Justin Trudeau: (06:58)
[foreign language 00:06: 59]. Right now, we’re seeing terrible tragedies in long term care facilities across the country.
Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
This is unacceptable. If you’re angry, frustrated, scared, you’re right to feel this way. We can do better. We need to do better. Because we are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders, the greatest generation who built this country. We need to care for them properly. Canadians need to pull together.
Justin Trudeau: (09:34)
There have been requests for military assistance by both Ontario and Quebec which, of course, we will be answering. Our women and men in uniform will step up with the valor and courage they have always shown. In the short-term, we will be there with support so that provinces can get control of this situation. But this is not a long-term solution. In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors.
Justin Trudeau: (10:06)
Going forward, in the weeks and months to come, we will all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this. We will all have to do more to get through this terrible situation.
Justin Trudeau: (10:21)
[foreign language 00: 01:23].
Speaker 2: (11:54)
Thank you, Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phone for questions. One question, one follow up. Operator?
Speaker 1: (12:00)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:12:01]. First question, Althia Raj, Huffington Post. Is the line open?
Althia Raj: (12:08)
Good morning. Yesterday you said you were going to continue working with the finance department and business associations to ensure that small businesses would get the support they need. Many self-employed individuals feel like they have been forgotten. They can’t apply for interest free loans because they have no payroll and many have thousands of dollars in fixed costs every month. So the CRB changes really do nothing for them. They feel that your government has been more focused on employers and employees and many face the real possibility of losing their businesses or going bankrupt. So could you tell us what changes you are envisioning for them?
Justin Trudeau: (12:44)
As we said from the very beginning, we worked on measures to help as many people as possible. We brought in targeted measures to help people who’d lost a paycheck, including people who were self-employed. We’ve moved forward with a wage subsidy that ensures that people who can, can remain connected to their jobs while receiving 75% of their paycheck up to $847 a week. We know that these are measures that got out quickly, are getting out quickly, and are broad and are helping millions of Canadians. But we also know that there are people who are falling through the cracks. That is why we continue to work with industry groups, with stakeholders, with MPs and community members across the country who are feeding us challenges and possible solutions. And of course we are working with an extraordinary public service to deliver those solutions to Canadians.
Speaker 2: (13:45)
Follow up, Althia?
Althia Raj: (13:46)
Okay, but that doesn’t… Well, that’s your answer. Do you regret this patchwork approach regarding the CRB? It’s clear that the need is a lot greater than the government anticipated when it drew up the program weeks ago. And I know that there are a number of people in your caucus who argued that it would have been far easier and it would be far easier to give everyone who’s lost income or lost the opportunity to earn income the ability to apply for help and just tax it back from those who perhaps didn’t need it as much next year. Did you make the right call and are you so stuck on this current course of action that you will not deviate from it?
Justin Trudeau: (14:27)
We knew from the very beginning that targeted support to the people who needed it was the best way to do it and that’s why we moved forward with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that has delivered benefits to over eight million Canadians. Why we moved forward with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that is ensuring that people can stay connected to their workplace, even if they’re not actually doing the work anymore so that we can bounce back quickly. But every step of the way we’ve said we will continue to expand, we will continue to fill gaps. We never expected that we’d get it perfect from day one. Indeed, we knew we wouldn’t, but we couldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We needed to get things out as best we could as quickly as we could to help as many people as possible, and then we’d continue every day to make further announcements that fill gaps, that explain how we’re going to help those people who aren’t hit by the broad measures there to help. We will continue to work on making sure that everyone who needs help gets it.
Speaker 2: (15:36)
Thank you. Next question, operator.
Speaker 1: (17:17)
Speaker 1: (17:18)
[foreign language 00:06:43].
Speaker 3: (17:55)
[foreign language 00:06:46]?
Justin Trudeau: (17:57)
[foreign language 00:16:25].
Speaker 3: (17:57)
[foreign language 00:17:35]?
Justin Trudeau: (17:57)
[foreign language 00:18:03].
Justin Trudeau: (18:00)
Speaker 4: (18:27)
[foreign language 00:00:40]. Operator.
Thank you. [French 00:00:43]. Next question. Ryan Tumilty, National Post. Line open.
Ryan Tumilty: (18:49)
Yep. Morning prime minister. I’m wondering, there are a number of US states that are starting to ease restrictions, opening up businesses again, starting on as early as tomorrow. I’m wondering if you’re concerned about jurisdictions that are so close to Canada easing their restrictions so much even while, in some cases, their virus numbers are still going up?
Justin Trudeau: (19:11)
We have a strong border measures in place to ensure that we’re doing what we need to do to protect Canada. As provinces look at their own situation and how we can move forward on beginning to reopen our economies, I know that their decisions and our decisions will be informed by what is working and what is perhaps not working as well elsewhere in the world.
Justin Trudeau: (19:38)
[French 00:01: 37].
Speaker 4: (20:09)
Follow up Ryan?
Ryan Tumilty: (20:11)
Yeah. I’m also wondering about the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is out today with a request for $10 billion in emergency funding because their revenues have fallen so steeply during this crisis. Are you starting to work with municipalities on a package for something like that?
Justin Trudeau: (20:29)
We recognize that levels of government across the country, orders of government across the country, are facing distinct challenges. We’ve had a number of conversations with the provinces on their financial challenges and as we know, municipalities are governed by the provinces. We will continue to work with the provinces, but we’ll also continue to work directly with municipalities to make sure that Canadians get the services they need, get the support they need. Regardless the orders of government we all serve the same people, Canadians, and we need to work together to be there for them.
Justin Trudeau: (21:20)
Speaker 4: (21:31)
Thank you. One more question on the phone please. Operator.
Thank you. [French 00:03:35].
Speaker 5: (24:07)
Justin Trudeau: (24:08)
Speaker 4: (24:10)
Speaker 5: (24:10)
Justin Trudeau: (24:11)
Molly Thomas: (24:14)
Hi, prime minister Molly Thomas CTV National News. The race for personal protective supplies allows for a way out of China. It’s been 500 days since Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Spavor were arbitrarily detained. Are you any closer to getting them released and when was the last time they had a chance to meet with consular officials?
Justin Trudeau: (24:34)
We have been working extremely diligently on the issue of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig who have been detained for 500 days in China. This is something that we have taken seriously from the very beginning. I can highlight that the minister of foreign affairs spoke to his counterpart, very recently to express our continued concerns and desire to see them released soon. The COVID-19 crisis has them … It has the Chinese system in a position of not allowing consular visits, but we have been assured that they are in a facility in a region that is not particularly affected by COVID-19, although we are continuing to press both for more details and for better access.
Molly Thomas: (25:29)
Also, prime minister, we’ve seen a spike in anti-Asian violence in different parts of our country. In BC, an elderly man with dementia was shoved out of a store by an assailant that brought up remarks about COVID-19, we now have a conservative leadership candidates that is asking for Dr. Tam to be fired and is accusing her, the WHO, and China of being in cahoots. What is your message to Canadians as they see this?
Justin Trudeau: (25:53)
Intolerance and racism have no place in our country. Canada has succeeded because of our diversity. It is one of our greatest strengths and the millions of Canadians of all different backgrounds who are working together, many, many of them on the front lines to help their fellow Canadians deserve better than this from all of us. We need to continue in our resolve to be an open, welcoming, respectful country. And I think all Canadians expect that of every politician.
Justin Trudeau: (26:34)
Justin Trudeau: (27:09)
[foreign language 00:00:02].
Julie Van Dues: (27:16)
Prime minister, Janet Silverglow, with one meatpacking plant already closed in Alberta and the NDP in that province calling on two more to be shut down, I’m just wondering, what is the federal government doing to protect Canada’s food supply from the effects of COVID-19 and are you worried about federal inspectors going into these plants?
Justin Trudeau: (27:35)
We are of course very alert to the issue of food supply in Canada. Food security for Canadians is a continued essential priority. We will work with the agricultural industry. We are strengthening processes around the CFIB to ensure both protection for our inspectors and effectiveness in assuring the safety of our food supply and of the conditions in which workers find themselves. We will continue to work with provinces and various jurisdictions to ensure that we are making sure that Canadians get the food that they need.
Julie Van Dues: (28:18)
And in terms of vaccines, you announced earlier funds for vaccine development. I’m wondering if your plan is to have vaccines manufactured here in Canada for Canadians.
Justin Trudeau: (28:30)
We know that developing vaccines is a really important step, and that’s why there are brilliant researchers working across the country in coordination and in collaboration with the international community as we all make efforts to develop a vaccine. But once we’ve developed a vaccine, whether it be in Canada or elsewhere around the world, we’re going to need to produce it and we will see the same kinds of pressures that we’re seeing around obtaining PPE around the world to obtain vaccines, which is why part of the investments we’re making today is to establish the capacity of developing vaccines and producing vaccines, mass producing vaccines here in Canada. [foreign language 00:29:15].
Speaker 6: (29:12)
[foreign language 00:29:42].
Justin Trudeau: (31:03)
[foreign language 00:30:02]. We know that everyone wants to know when this is going to be over, when we’re going to be able to get back to normal life. Well, until we have either a vaccine or significant treatments for COVID-19 we’re not going to be able to talk about getting back to normal, but in the coming months we will be able to loosen a number of the restrictions and rules that we have right now on personal ability in certain sectors on the economy. Different provinces are in very different postures related to COVID-19, and we’ll be taking decisions that are appropriate for them. What we’re doing at the federal level is attempting to pull together and coordinate all different provinces so that we are working from a similar set of guidelines and principles to ensure that Canadians right across the country are being kept safe as we look to those next steps.
Speaker 6: (32:00)
[foreign language 00:05:05].
Justin Trudeau: (32:26)
[foreign language 00:05: 16].
Julie Van Dues: (32:35)
Prime minister, Julie Van Dues from CBC. You’ve talked about the fact that it’s unacceptable what’s going on in Canada’s seniors’ homes. You’ve also discussed the idea of making sure people make more money in those homes, but that of course would be a short term solution. In terms of a longterm solution, will you be talking to the premiers about putting seniors homes under the Canada health act, which would set national standards and hopefully make sure that seniors don’t go through such a terrible ordeal again?
Justin Trudeau: (33:05)
I think they’re going to be an awful lot of Canadians asking questions of all their politicians about what we’re going to do to make sure a situation like this could never happen again. What COVID-19 has done has highlighted and brought forward failings in our system, in our country where the people who take care of our most vulnerable are themselves extremely vulnerable economically. We need to do better and there will be a lot of conversations that Canadians are going to demand and that politicians will have about what is the best way to ensure that we are properly protecting our elders.
Julie Van Dues: (33:48)
On the issue of the vaccine, which you’ve said in the past could take a year to 18 months, will we have to wait for a vaccine to hug our family and friends who are outside of our bubble?
Justin Trudeau: (34:02)
The process around reopening the level of freedom we’ll have to visit friends and to work and to go outside will depend on the decisions and the advice that scientists give us around how to keep ourselves safe. We know it may be a long while before a vaccine. There are discussions around treatments for COVID-19 that might work as well as a vaccine. I mean, we’ve been waiting for and looking for and searching for a vaccine for AIDS for decades now, and it still hasn’t come, but there are treatments that mean quality of life for people with HIV have been massively improved. There are different ways of moving through. We will take the best ways we possibly can as we move forward. A vaccine, obviously, arriving soon would be the best solution, but we need to make sure we are exploring all different ways of ensuring that Canadians quality of life and safety and protection is upheld in the best way we possibly can going forward. [foreign language 00:35:21].