May 14, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 14
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Thursday, May 14 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau urged Canadian consumers to “buy Canadian” as the government pledges $470M for Canadian fisheries. Read the full news briefing speech transcript.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (00:01)
[foreign language 00:00:00:00]. Over the last two months, a lot of Canadians have faced very challenging situations and very difficult choices, just take workers in the fisheries industry, you can’t harvest lobster from inside your house. So that leaves you trying to figure out how to either space people out on a fishing boat or cancel your operations. It’s not an easy call to make. On top of that prices and demand have gone down putting financial pressure on fishers and their families. Taken together, this adds up to a really tough time. So I want you to know that we’re listening, that your local MPS are making sure your concerns are heard, and above all that help is on the way.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (00:51)
Today I can announce that we are investing almost $470 million to support fish harvesters. First of all, we are creating the Fish Harvesters Benefit. If you’re expecting a 25% drop in income, this season you’ll get support to cover 75% of your losses up to about $10,000. And as a reminder, if you qualify for the Canada emergency wage subsidy instead, remember that we’ll be extending it beyond June. We’re also introducing additional non repayable grants of up to $10, 000 for fish harvesters who own their own business, and need support to bridge to better times. And for workers who are worried about next year, we will change employment insurance rules so that fish harvesters can apply for EI benefits based on the earnings of previous years.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (01:51)
This all builds on the investments we’ve made for fish and seafood processors. And for farmers and agriculture fisheries, we’re also launching a hundred million dollar agriculture and food business solutions fund through Farm Credit Canada. This is yet another option to help agrifood companies facing unexpected financial strain. Whether you’re a Fisher, a food processor or a farmer, we’ve got your back, and I know all Canadians do too. And to everyone who wants to show their support by Canadian, pick up some Canadian cheese to help out a local dairy farmer, have a fish fry or buy Canadian lobster. Not only will it taste great, but it will help the people who keep putting food on our plates. [foreign language 00:02:42].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (04:52)
Since day one, our government has been engaging with First Nations Inuit and Maytee Nation leaders in the fight against this virus. In places like Northern Saskatchewan that are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, it’s become very clear that communities need this work to continue. That’s why yesterday we announced support for the Meadow Lake tribal council and Maytee Nation Saskatchewan, for their pandemic response plan. Through this plan, we’re partnering with communities to provide over $2.3 million for everything from food to supplies. We all want the same thing to keep people safe, and we will continue coordinating to make sure that happens.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (05:38)
I want to end today by recognizing that the May long weekend is coming up. It’ll be different than normal because lots of places, including our national parks are still closed, but this isn’t forever. Canadians have been doing the right things these past many weeks, and that’s why we can announce today some good news for the weeks ahead. As of the beginning of June, some national parks will be partially reopening so that people in the area can use trails and green spaces where physical distancing is possible. Getting fresh air is important, but we all have to be responsible about it. And we have to be prepared to make adjustments as needed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (06:23)
That’s why with the weather getting better, we’re bringing in new regulations on boating as of June 1st to protect vulnerable communities in the North. No pleasurecraft will be permitted to operate in Canada’s Arctic coastal waters or in the coastal areas of Northern Quebec and Labrador. Of course, this ban does not include boats used for essential fishing and hunting or for local community use. [foreign language 00:06: 50].
Speaker 1: (07:35)
Thank you Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phones for questions from the media. Just one question, one follow up. Operator.
Speaker 2: (07:42)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:07:43]. First question, Janice Dickson, The Global Mail. Line open.
Janice Dickson: (07:50)
Hi prime minister. My question is about the Canada U.S. border. A Canadian and an expectant mother living here says border guards have twice refused her partner, an American citizen and the father of her baby, from crossing into the U.S., and the border guards told him being here for the birth of his son was non-essential. Do you think someone in this circumstance should be able to cross?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (08:15)
We know Canadians are making extraordinary sacrifices through this difficult time, loved ones who are saying goodbye to their parents and grandparents via FaceTime, because they can’t see them in person, people living through very difficult distancing that is causing a real impact on people. Obviously, we’re trying to make sure that people can do the things that are most essential, but even as we were grieving over the past weeks in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, we needed to make sure we’re respecting the rules in place to keep people safe. I can understand the difficulty and the challenge that closing the borders to all but non essential travel is causing on many, many families. We need to make sure that the decisions are taken that are.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
… families. We need to make sure that the decisions are taken that are going to protect people. I understand that different decisions could be made on a case by case basis, but what we are doing now is what we need to do to keep Canadians safe for the coming months and years.
Speaker 3: (09:18)
Yes. The American man I mentioned was told by an officer that the only way he could see his son is if his expecting partner was hit by a car and they needed someone to take care of the baby. Is there not any room for compassion in cases? He wants to try again after his son is born. Do you have any advice for this specific example?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:46)
So we’ve seen families split up even internally in Canada because of COVID-19. It is difficult on everyone, and I can’t comment on every case, obviously, but I do know that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are making tremendous sacrifices in order to protect their loved ones, their communities, their parents, their grandparents, and preventing our healthcare systems from getting overloaded.
Speaker 3: (10:13)
Thank you. Next question. Operator?
Speaker 4: (10:16)
Thank you. [French 00:10:17]. Next question, Jamie Pashagumskum, APTN. There’s a line open.
Jamie Pashahumskum: (10:25)
Hi. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. You mentioned something in French about the students and indigenous women. I’m sorry, I missed it. I was expecting a translation. Could you tell us what was said there?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (10:38)
We’re making sure that students in First Nations Metis and Inuit communities get extra support. We’re also investing in support for families, women, and children fleeing domestic violence in indigenous communities. We’ve made a large number of investments in supporting indigenous communities across this country through this pandemic, because we recognize the level of vulnerability, and I can tell you that Minister Miller will be at the noon update as he is every week to highlight the initiatives we’re moving forward on with indigenous communities.
Speaker 3: (11:20)
Jamie Pashahumskum: (11:22)
Thank you. Yes. My followup is concerning the rapid tests that were supposed to be coming out a couple of weeks ago. I know indigenous communities have tests, but they’re not the rapid tests. What happened to them?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:36)
As was highlighted last week I believe, there have been challenges around the rapid test that I believe an Ottawa company had put forward. They’ve gone back to and improve them or repair them. We’ve seen many, many new technologies come forward in terms helping, and we’ve moved very quickly on them, but it also requires us to adjust when things aren’t working exactly the way they were hoped to be working. So I know people are working very, very hard to make sure that indigenous communities and indeed remote northern communities, get the testing capacity they need as quickly as possible, but we need to make sure they are reliable tests.
Speaker 3: (12:21)
Thank you, operator. Next question, please.
Speaker 4: (12:24)
Thank you. [French 00:12:27].
Speaker 5: (12:24)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:24)
Speaker 3: (12:24)
Speaker 5: (12:24)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:24)
Speaker 3: (14:27)
[French 00:05: 35].
Speaker 4: (14:38)
Thank you. [French 00:14:39].
Speaker 6: (14:39)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (15:47)
[French 00:05: 58].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (15:49)
We know that this pandemic has hit very differently across the country, and therefore there will be different phases or different steps in reopening of national parks across the country. We will try and align with the local jurisdiction what the provincial parks nearby are going to be doing, so that it is clearer for people in terms of what they can do in their own particular region. But, for example, our Arctic parks won’t be reopening anytime soon. Certain parks that are in close proximity to indigenous communities will take a little longer to open because of vulnerabilities. We will have more to say in the coming week in terms of which parks will be opening up, but we know people are going to want to get outside. They’re going to want to do that safely, so as of June 1st, we will be facilitating that to a certain extent, always staying careful and responsible in the way we do it.
Speaker 3: (16:54)
Speaker 6: (16:55)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (16:55)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (18:00)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (18:22)
I think people remember well, the job numbers that came out just last week that showed that millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. We made the choice as a government from the very beginning that we would help those millions of Canadians. And getting that help to 99% of the Canadians who needed it quickly and rapidly, if it meant even accepting that one or 2% might make fraudulent claims, was the choice that we gladly made. We needed to get help to Canadians immediately. And that’s what we did.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (19:02)
If we had asked the public service to perform background checks on everyone applying for the CERB, we’d still be waiting to get those checks out. And people needed that money now, they needed that money last month when we delivered it. So saying we have put in strong measures to ensure that anyone who is trying to defraud the system will get caught and there will be consequences, but that was not our priority. Our priority was helping people immediately and the fraud measures will kick-in in the coming months.
Kevin Gallagher: (19:40)
Kevin Gallagher with CTV news. Could you expand on what those measures or mechanisms are? And also, you said yesterday the CRA would be responsible for a lot of that with the CERB, they’re also responsible for the wage subsidy. So, is the CRA going to need more resources to tackle the potential fraud that has come from these vital federal programs during this pandemic?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:03)
Well over seven million Canadians have applied for the CERB. Millions of Canadians are receiving the CERB. Millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. We needed to help them rapidly and efficiently. That means to get the CERB, people simply needed to fill out an attestation to make commitments that they were in a situation that they deserve to get the CERB. Of course, there’s going to be a few people who will misrepresent themselves and try and defraud the situation. But we know that the priority was getting help to people who needed it. And that’s exactly what we did, including by increasing the capacity of the federal government to deliver these checks and support CRA and other government workers. The choice we made was to get the money out to people immediately when they needed it, so we could do the social distancing, so we could stay home in the way we needed to. And make sure that the fraudsters get caught as we move forward.
Kevin Gallagher: (21:12)
Didn’t really answer if there was going to be more resources for the CRA to do this. I’m also wondering, as provinces start to reopen their economies, non-essential businesses start to open up, there are likely to be workers that are concerned about returning to work for their own safety. Either they’re immuno suppressed, they have difficulty finding adequate childcare options, or perhaps they’re unsatisfied with their workplace safety protocols because of the coronavirus. Will those workers have an option to remain on the CERB, for example, or other federal programs? What will happen to workers that have concerns over their safety, but now might have to go back to work?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (21:54)
On the first part of your question, the measures we’ve put in have required the public service across this country to step up in extraordinary ways. We’re making sure that they get the support they need as they deliver in a rapid way, in a reliable way the support that millions upon millions of Canadians are needing, and we need to thank them for the work they’re doing. And of course, we will always make sure that they have the resources necessary to do the things that Canadians need them to do, and do them as incredibly well as they have been.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (22:29)
As the economy begins to reopen. As people start looking at going back to work, there are going to be lots of questions about safety, about childcare, about next steps. We’re going to work very closely with the provinces, with industries, with employers, with people to give as much clarity as we possibly can. We’re in an unprecedented situation. We’re figuring this out step by step as we move forward, as we get into the next phases of this. But every step of the way, our focus is going to be on keeping people safe, first and foremost. That needs to be the priority that all Canadians put at the top of the list.
Speaker 7: (23:06)
Speaker 8: (23:06)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (23:06)
Speaker 8: (23:06)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (25:56)
[French 00:07: 02].
Janet Silver: (25:58)
Prime Minister, Janet Silver, Global News. I just want to pick up on talking earlier about workers and safety. More than 40 inspectors with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are getting sick going to work and meat packing plants. I’m just wondering what the federal government is doing to protect these inspectors?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:16)
Yeah. We know the situation is extremely difficult in many meat packing plants across the country. That has been a real challenge. And we always are trying to find that balance between assuring a safe and reliable food supply for Canadians, which is fundamental and necessary, while at the same time ensuring the protection of the workers who are there. That obviously includes the food inspectors, and we need to make sure that they have access to the right kinds of personal protection equipment and the right conditions to keep them safe. As important as it is to keep our economy going and get food on the table, we also need to make sure we are prioritizing worker safety.
Janet Silver: (27:02)
The Union, just to follow up on that-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:03)
We are prioritizing worker safety.
Speaker 9: (27:03)
The union, just to follow up on that, the union representing these meat inspectors, they say that they’ve been giving a work or else order from the agency and if they refuse to go to work, they will be disciplined. So I’m just wondering why they are being ordered to go to work, if they don’t feel safe.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:19)
I think getting that balance right is extremely important. We need to ensure that essential services like the food supply continue to float to Canadians, but we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep workers safe. And we will continue to work with labor, with industry, with provincial partners to make sure that both of those things are being done.
Speaker 10: (27:43)
[French 00:00: 41].
Tom Parry: (28:16)
Hello Prime Minister, Tom Parry, CBC. The WHO’s Emergencies Chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, was quoted today saying that this virus may never go away, that it could become just another endemic virus in our community. So I want to know as a government, how do you plan for that kind of scenario? And you’re loosening up some restrictions on national parks today, what do you say to Canadians who might hear this and think, “Well, things are never going to get back to normal.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:40)
I think we know that there are things that we took for granted last year and years before that have changed. We have seen this world change rapidly over the years. You used to be able to get on a plane without taking off your shoes first. We have seen measures brought in that have made shifts in our society, some for the better, some for the worse. COVID-19 will be one of those things that creates changes in our society. Our responsibility as a society, as governments, is to try and figure out how to minimize the negative impacts of those changes while maximizing the safety of Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:19)
There will be adjustments, but reopening national parks for example, on June 1st, means that we know that you can’t prevent Canadians from going outside when the weather is nice, you just have to help them do it safely. Continue to impress upon them the need for physical distancing, recognize that certain areas are more vulnerable than others and will need to remain closed, but create opportunities for Canadians’ wellbeing, for their mental health, while at the same time protecting their physical health. Getting that balance right is something we’re doing in the short term, but obviously there’ll be plenty of reflections over the coming months and indeed years about how we make sure that Canadians and people around the world are kept safe from this pandemic or from potential next pandemics.
Speaker 10: (30:11)
Tom Parry: (31:38)
And you’ve announced support for First Nations in their fight against COVID-19 today. I’d like to ask you about something that happened on Sunday in Saskatchewan. A First Nation there says that the RCMP interrupted an important ceremony over concerns about physical distancing. Premier Scott Moe says there can be no exceptions to the province’s rules about public gatherings. What do you say?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (31:57)
I think indigenous community leadership knows that we need to be keeping people safe and we should be able to work with them to develop ways of continuing with important customs and practices for them in a way that abides by health recommendations. I think that’s something for the leadership of the community to take on and we of course will be happy to work with them.