Apr 25, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference April 25
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s April 25 coronavirus press conference for Canada. He said Canada shouldn’t open economy without adequate worker PPE. Read his full updates here.
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Justin Trudeau: (09:58)
[foreign language 00:09:58] Hello everyone. Happy Saturday. Before we get started today I wanted to thank the organizers of yesterday’s vigil for the victims of the Nova Scotia shooting. The pandemic may have prevented us from gathering in person but we still found a way to come together to celebrate the lives of the victims and support their families. It was an extremely moving tribute, and it was just yet another example of how Canadians are there for each other in difficult times. Once again, my thoughts, and the thoughts of all Canadians, are with the families and loved ones of the victims.
Justin Trudeau: (10:36)
This week our government announced more targeted support for Canadians who are going through an especially hard time because of COVID-19. With the Canada Emergency Community Support Fund we’re giving more resources to charities and nonprofits so that they can continue their important work. We also unveiled our 9 billion dollar plan to help students and recent grads get through the next few months. Because of COVID-19 there aren’t as many jobs for students as last year, and without a job it can be hard to pay for tuition, or the day to day basics. So, we launched the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which gives students at least $1,250 a month from May to August. At the same time, we’re creating 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, are on the frontline of the pandemic. If students prefer to volunteer and help in the fight against COVID-19, they’ll be eligible for a $1000-5,000 Grant through the new Canada Student Service Grant.
Justin Trudeau: (12:12)
Justin Trudeau: (12:44)
From the very beginning of the outbreak, our objectives as a government have been clear. Help those who need it most, protect jobs, support the small businesses that make our communities better place to call home, and lay the groundwork for our economy to come roaring back once this crisis is over. In the past few weeks, our government introduced a series of measures to do just that, but we know there are more people to help, more work to be done. So today we’re announcing $62.5 million to support fish and seafood processors through this crisis.
Justin Trudeau: (13:24)
As we fight COVID-19, people who work in fish and seafood processing plants across the country are playing a crucial role when it comes to getting food to our tables. This funding will help ensure that they can safely continue their important work. We’re giving more money to processors so that they can purchase personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols, and support other social distancing measures. For example, fish processing plants could buy new equipment like freezers or storage space so that their product, food for Canadians, can stay good while they respond to a changing market. With this announcement, we’re giving fish and seafood processors more resources to adapt to the many challenges brought on by the pandemic, and above all, keep workers safe. Our fish sector is interconnected, so these investments will also have a positive impact on fish harvesters. On that note, I want to take a moment to recognize the tremendous work that is being done by every person who makes Canada’s food system possible, including our food producers and fish harvesters.
Justin Trudeau: (14:34)
You keep our grocery stores stocked and our families fed. I know that the past few weeks have been really tough on you too, whether it be financially or emotionally. I want to thank you all for everything you do for us. You’re providing an essential service to the country. We know that you have specific needs and asks right now, and we are actively exploring additional ways to support you as we move forward.
Justin Trudeau: (17:44)
Yesterday I had a call with the first ministers and we talked about putting together a joint statement outlining what needs to be done to reopen the economy. We’re working together with Canada’s Chief Medical Officers to establish principles and guidelines for us all. We have to be mindful that the economy and the realities of each province and territory are unique, so the timing and specific measures will be different across jurisdictions. We need a coordinated approach nationally to avoid any confusion amongst Canadians. We’re working together on a plan based on science, data, and expert advice that lays out our common ambition to see our country through this. If we don’t get the next phase right, we risk losing all the progress we’ve made so far. These conversations are ongoing and we will keep working together for all Canadians.
Justin Trudeau: (18:39)
Tomorrow there won’t be any press conferences either by doctors or myself, so I want to close this morning to talking directly to young Canadians as I do every weekend. To all the kids watching out there, you’re doing great. Keep helping out around the house, try to keep up with your school work, and above all, stay positive. This is a tough time, but we’re going to get through this together. And to young people out there, many of you are students who need extra help and we’re here for you.
Justin Trudeau: (19:11)
This week we announced a series of measures to support you during this crisis, but we need your help too. This is a moment in our country’s history that we will look back on and ask each of ourselves what we did for our community, for our country. What did we do to serve our country? To help the world? And as you look at what you can do this summer, please remember that there are seniors who need your help. There are frontline workers, including in our medical professions, who could use a helping hand. And there are agricultural farmers and producers who’d love to see you step up to help feed Canadians.
Justin Trudeau: (19:59)
Look at how you can use your energy, your drive, your vision for making the world a better place, and make it so. How we get through this as a country depends on each of us, the choices we make, the actions we take. So this weekend, stay home, keep washing your hands, and if you need to go out for groceries, keep at least two meters apart from each other. And think about what you can do in the fight against COVID-19 to support our frontline workers, to help your community. I know that we will help each other to get through this because that’s just who we are as Canadians. Merci beaucoup. Have a great weekend.
Speaker 1: (20:46)
Thank you Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phone lines for questions. One question, one followup. Operator?
Speaker 2: (20:53)
Thank you. Merci. [ French 00:08:58].
Speaker 3: (22:29)
[French 00: 08:58].
Justin Trudeau: (22:31)
Justin Trudeau: (22:35)
I’ve been very clear that I have no intention of seeing the federal government take over or get involved in provincial areas of jurisdiction. And I think Canadians are asking themselves very, very important questions right across the country about how we care for our elders, how we support the most vulnerable in society. We have to answer those questions. We have to work very hard to come up with better answers than we’ve had until this point. And yes, that means talking about transfers to the provinces. We sent a half a billion dollars in health transfer to the provinces at the beginning of this crisis. But there is always more to do. So over the coming weeks, months, years, including beyond this COVID crisis, we need to do a better job of supporting our elders, supporting those who built this country. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Speaker 1: (23:53)
Speaker 3: (23:54)
Justin Trudeau: (23:54)
Speaker 4: (25:03)
[French 00:25:03] Operator?
Speaker 5: (25:03)
Thank you. [French 00:25:07].
Speaker 6: (25:03)
Justin Trudeau: (25:03)
Speaker 4: (25:03)
Speaker 6: (25:03)
Justin Trudeau: (25:03)
Speaker 4: (25:03)
Thank you. Next question, operator.
Speaker 5: (25:42)
Thank you. [French 00:27:34]. Next question. Justin Lang, freelance. Line open.
Justin Lang: (27:40)
Good morning, Prime Minister. I want to ask you about a report that came out yesterday from the correctional investigator. He wrote that prisons across the country facing COVID-19 were throwing inmates who are symptomatic or who had tested positive for COVID-19 in what they were calling medical isolation, but what he describes basically as solitary confinement, and said basically it was not justifiable or tolerable. I’m wondering if you’re comfortable with federal prisons throwing inmates in what is essentially solitary confinement in the midst of a pandemic.
Justin Trudeau: (28:13)
We have taken a number of strong measures in corrections facilities to protect inmates and staff members from the spread of COVID-19. I am aware of the report put out yesterday, and we are following up on the details.
Speaker 4: (28:27)
Follow up, Justin?
Justin Lang: (28:29)
Yeah. Frankly Prime Minister, it’s been frustrating asking you about this. Your public safety minister is, of course, the one responsible for Canada’s prisons, but he hasn’t really been seen in the past month, aside from a brief press conference on a different matter. Where is Public Safety Minister Bill Blair?
Justin Trudeau: (28:46)
Minister Blair is working extremely hard on keeping Canadians safe. Whether it is dealing with the Nova Scotia tragedy, as you all know, or working with the public, with the Border Services Agency to make sure that our border measures are strong in place. He’s been working with provinces on preparation for floods and forest fires as they come up this season. He’s also continuing to work on the strong gun control measures that we’ve had to do. We have been incredibly fortunate to have Minister Blair work on the corrections file, as well as all the other files that keep Canadians safe, and I’m very proud to have him by my side.
Speaker 4: (29:29)
Thank you. Next question. Operator?
Speaker 5: (29:32)
Thank you. [French 00:29:33]. Next question. Teresa Wright, Canadian Press. Line open.
Teresa Wright: (29:40)
Good morning, Prime Minister. The World Health Organization has issued a statement saying there’s no evidence people who recover from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection, and that was in response to countries discussing the possibility of issuing immunity passports to people who have recovered. How wise is it to be discussing plans to lift restrictions with provinces if it’s possible that people could get sick more than once from COVID-19?
Justin Trudeau: (30:08)
In the approach that we’re taking very carefully around the provinces and across the country on looking at reopening, I don’t believe that there are any of the plans that hinge on certain people or individuals being immune or having immune to COVID-19. The focus we have is on continuing to prevent spread through social distancing measures, through PPE in workplaces, through various measures of protecting Canadians as we move forward. There is still an awful lot of science being done on the idea of immunity, on protections, which is why we’ve invested significant amounts of money in a new Canada Immunity Task Force that will be examining these issues.
Justin Trudeau: (30:59)
But it is very clear that the science is not decided on whether or not having had COVID once prevents you from getting it again. We know it is something that we need to get clearer answers to, and until we have those clear answers, we need to assume that an err on the side of more caution.
Justin Trudeau: (31:22)
Okay. [ French 00:07:23].
Speaker 4: (32:17)
Follow up, Teresa?
Teresa Wright: (32:20)
What lessons do you take for Canada from the disunity that we’re seeing in the COVID-19 response in the United States? And what worries do you have about how we might ultimately be affected?
Justin Trudeau: (32:33)
I think first of all, Canadians can take great comfort in the fact that all of our orders of government have been working together in a very strong and aligned way. That we have, as a country, focused on listening to experts and scientists as we move forward, as we make decisions on how to keep Canadians safe. We have seen extraordinary medical health professionals and public health officials across the country sharing with the citizens in their provinces how they can keep safe, and we have a great team at the national level that is helping coordinate and inform the decisions taken across the country.
Justin Trudeau: (33:14)
As we move forward with a framework and guidelines that will impact on the direct decisions taken by the provinces, that the provinces themselves are working with us to generate, we’ve seen that this unity that Canada has, despite tremendous variants in impact of the virus, in nature of the economies, in the kind of situations people live in, has been deeply reassuring to Canadians. We will continue focusing on that. As part of the way forward, we will continue to make sure that Canada and Canadians are protected from external sources of the virus. Whether that’s keeping up international border measures or moving forward on specific measures around quarantine for anyone who arrives in this country, these are the things that we’re going to continue to do.
Speaker 7: (34:02)
Justin Trudeau: (34:02)
Speaker 7: (34:02)
Justin Trudeau: (35:41)
[French 00:11: 28]. I don’t think we should be talking about reopening any parts of the economy if we do not have a strong plan to protect people working there, and prevent the spread of COVID-19
Rachel Hanes.: (35:56)
Prime Minister, Rachel Hanes from CTV National News. Yesterday, Doug Ford appealed to you directly in his press conference saying, “If you’re listening, they-”
Beckford appealed to you directly in his press conference saying, if you’re listening, they need help. In your call last night, what specific offers did you give to Ontario when it comes to the longterm care home crisis that they’re facing right now?
Justin Trudeau: (36:13)
We’ve put forward measures that have allocated billions of dollars to go to the provinces to support on top-ups for essential workers, particularly in longterm care facilities. And we look to have more announcements on that soon. But we’ve also responded to very direct requests by the provinces to send in military support. Obviously that can’t be more than a short term answer, but we will be there to help Canadians who are going through extraordinarily difficult times. The situation in our longterm care facilities in different parts of this country is absolutely unacceptable. And all of us as Canadians need to do whatever we can to support our elders.
Justin Trudeau: (37:00)
[ foreign language 00:01:01]
And in your answer just now to my colleague, you said that Canada won’t reopen its economy if we don’t have enough PPE and enough masks, but we know right now that we don’t have that. We just had to return some masks that came from China because they are not up to standards. We also know that there is this crisis that’s going on in longterm care homes. Is it too early to even have these conversations about reopening the economy when there are still so many issues that we’re dealing with right now?
Justin Trudeau: (38:04)
I think there are a really important conversations to be had in advance of opening up our economies. As we say, we have to be very, very careful and very gradual about it and ensure that we have the measures in place to control and prevent any further spread of COVID-19. Adequate PPE supplies will be a part of that, but I can assure you that we are very much on that. Whether it’s the plane loads of PPE supplies that will be coming in almost every single day next week or the domestic production capacity, which is ramping up rapidly, and we’ll be ready to support Canadians as we move forward on steps towards reopening. These are the things that we need to make sure we’re getting right so as to ensure that all the sacrifices we’ve made over the past weeks won’t be for nothing.
Justin Trudeau: (38:56)
[foreign language 00: 02:57]
Ashley Burke: (39:50)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Ashley Burke, CBC News. You said that the science hasn’t decided yet on whether or not someone can become immune to COVID-19 if they already have caught it. You said Canada is studying this, but what other concerns do you have about immunity, passports or certificates that might be needed down the line to prove that you are immune to COVID-19 at mass gatherings or sporting events, even to attend work, when the economy eventually does reopen?
Justin Trudeau: (40:19)
I think any such discussions or decisions need to be based on very strong and very clear scientific evidence. And that’s why our scientists are looking very, very carefully, as are people around the world, at what kind of immunity, the presence of antibodies, could deliver to Canadians, to people who’ve already been affected and what impacts that has. We’re not there yet on being able to make a pronouncement on that. So all the other elements are not discussions to be had now.
Ashley Burke: (40:52)
The European Union is planning a major funding event for the World Health Organization at the beginning of May. Will Canada be part of that event? And would you consider attaching some sort of conditions to that funding, like a review of the WHO’s handling of this pandemic?
Justin Trudeau: (41:05)
Canada will always be there to support science and the work done internationally on keeping our planet and our citizens safe. This is something that we are looking to participate in. I think like many countries there are questions around how to ensure that we learn from this situation and we get better at dealing with these things with a level of transparency and rigor that I think citizens expect.
Audience 2: (41:30)
Hi, Prime Minister. [inaudible 00:41:32] with Global News. Can you speak a bit more about what the federal government responsibility on rulemaking falls when it comes to reopening the economy, and where it will be up to the provincial government so far as responsibility and rule making and on the reopening of the economy?
Justin Trudeau: (41:46)
Our constitution lays out very clear areas of a federal, of provincial, of municipal by extension responsibilities. And of course, other provinces will have a lead role in determining how their economies will reopen. But that’s why we’ve been working with the provinces who are very varied in their realities, in what they are being challenged with to establish a base level of criteria, a checklist, a set of guidelines that will ensure that right across the country the decisions being made by each province will be based around a shared understanding of the science and the steps necessary towards reopening. But of course, every province has its responsibility and its decisions to make on how it reopens.
Audience 2: (42:40)
And I understand that some premiers last night indicated that a renewed infrastructure program will be vital to restarting the economy. With construction season upon us, can you tell us about the federal plans in this regard and whether or not the federal government will allow municipalities in particular to contribute a small percentage of cost to any municipality project?
Justin Trudeau: (42:56)
We understand the importance of getting our economy going again as quickly as possible. But that as quickly as possible depends very much on ensuring that we are arresting the spread of COVID-19 and in an ability to prevent further spread. That is why, yes, we are in discussions with the provinces around infrastructure investments to benefit from this construction season. But we need to make sure we’re doing that safely and responsibly. And that is also a part of the conversations we’re having with the provinces.
Justin Trudeau: (43:29)
[foreign language 00:43:31].
Justin Trudeau: (43:29)
Thank you, all.