May 7, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference May 7
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Thursday, May 7 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau announced a wage boost for essential workers during the pandemic.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:11)
Hello everyone. I want to begin with a few words about the terrible helicopter crash that claimed the lives of six armed forces members last week. Yesterday I attended a ceremony in their honor. I was grateful to have an opportunity to pay my respects. I got to speak with mothers, fathers and stepfathers, grandparents, friends, sons and daughters, fiance’s partners and loved ones. All of them were heartbroken but all of them were also immensely proud of the life of service chosen by their loved one, as are we all.
Justin Trudeau: (00:57)
We will never forget their service they will live on in our hearts and I know the thoughts of all Canadians are with the families and loved ones who are going through an incredibly difficult time. We stand with them and we will continue to stand with them. As time and time again, members of the Canadian Armed Forces step up to help those in need, whether it be as a part of the NATO mission in Europe or in the wake of a natural disaster here in Canada, they’re always there for us, eager to help, ready to serve, and this pandemic is no exception.
Justin Trudeau: (01:37)
When our government received requests for assistance from Ontario and Quebec, our men and women in uniform once again answered the call. In Ontario 265 CAF members have now been deployed to five longterm care facilities. They are supporting our frontline workers, caring for our parents and grandparents and bringing some comfort to their families. If you’ve lost a loved one in one of those facilities, or if you have a loved one that you haven’t been able to visit for weeks, you’re worried sick about what tomorrow will bring and you hope that they’re getting the care they deserve. Seeing our CAF members offer their help and talents during these uncertain times is a reassuring site for many of these families. So I want to thank all of those who’ve been deployed and all the frontline workers who continue to work harder than ever to keep our seniors safe.
Justin Trudeau: (03:09)
[ foreign language 00:02:37].
Justin Trudeau: (05:21)
Today I can announce that we have an agreement with all the provinces and territories to provide a wage top up for essential workers, for Canadians who are being called to work to go to work every day. For Canadians who are providing us with essential services so we can continue to keep our families safe and healthy.
Justin Trudeau: (05:43)
Right now we’re finalizing the details with the last provinces and I want to underscore that this has been a truly collaborative effort. Premier’s from across the country all agree that we need to support our essential workers and I thank the Premier’s for the continued team Canada approach. We’re relying on these workers now more than ever and we will be there to support them.
Justin Trudeau: (06:09)
It will be up to each province and territory to determine who exactly qualifies for this wage increase but the bottom line is this. If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you’re making minimum wage, you deserve a raise. I want to close by noting that today, Buddhists in Canada and around the world, will mark Vesak, their most important festival. While this years celebrations will be a bit different, the Buddha’s message of peace, selfless service, and compassion to those in need is more important than ever.
Justin Trudeau: (06:45)
I want to wish a happy and peaceful Vesak to all those celebrating.
Justin Trudeau: (06:49)
I’m now happy to take people’s questions.
speaker 2: (06:51)
[foreign language 00:06:53].
Speaker 2: (06:51)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:07:02].
speaker 2: (06:51)
[foreign language 00:07:07].
Justin Trudeau: (06:51)
[foreign language 00:07:22].
Justin Trudeau: (08:00)
Speaker 3: (08:47)
Speaker 4: (08:52)
Justin Trudeau: (08:53)
Speaker 5: (08:54)
Thank you, operator. Next question.
Thank you. Merci. Next question, Ryan Tumilty, National Post. Line open.
Ryan Tumilty: (09:17)
Good morning, prime minister. I’m wondering if you can give us an idea of what this program will cost the federal government overall. Given that you seem to be leaving this up to the provinces, what sort of guidelines have you given them about how to spend those federal dollars?
Justin Trudeau: (09:35)
We see across the country people working on the front lines, in essential services, in our seniors care systems, in our longterm care, in our healthcare systems, and elsewhere, who are making very low wages while doing extraordinarily important work. That’s why we announced a number of days ago that we wanted to move forward with a top up to be delivered by the provinces to those workers who needed that extra support.
Justin Trudeau: (10:04)
We put forward around four billion dollars from the federal government to be matched three quarters from the federal government, one quarter from the provincial government on helping those workers right across the country. Because of the variants across the country, both of the COVID-19 situation, and of a delivery of essential services including healthcare, we felt that it was best that provinces move forward in choosing exactly how they can best help the workers who are doing such important work right across the country.
Justin Trudeau: (10:38)
This is another great example of how the federal government and the provinces and territories have been able to come together, collaborate, work together to support Canadians through this extremely difficult time.
Speaker 5: (10:52)
Any follow up, Ryan?
Ryan Tumilty: (10:55)
Yeah. What about nonmedical workers, I guess, people who work in grocery stores, and delivery drivers, some of those workers, like you say, are working minimum wage. Are they going to be eligible for this top up?
Justin Trudeau: (11:07)
As I said, those are determinations to be made by the provinces. I know a number of provinces had already put out lists of workers that they considered to be essential, and many of them are drawing from those lists in terms of who gets the top up. We have confidence that the provinces will determine exactly how best to help Canadians in this time. The federal government wanted to be there and we know that offering this money to workers right across the country will make a big difference. And we trust the provinces to make sure that people who need it gets this help.
Speaker 5: (13:20)
Thank you. [French 00:03:44].
Thank you. Merci. [French 00:00:11:48].
Speaker 6: (13:49)
Justin Trudeau: (13:49)
Speaker 5: (13:49)
Speaker 6: (13:49)
Justin Trudeau: (13:51)
Thank you, merci. Next question, Theresa Wright, The Canadian Press. Line open.
Theresa Wright: (14:03)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Earlier this week the Chinese embassy tweeted that the N95 masks, which were rejected by Canada last month, were the result of a contractual issue that has now been resolved. Your deputy prime minister and health minister said that they would look into it, but have yet to respond to explain what happened. Was there a contract problem that led to one million masks from China being rejected? What was the issue and has it been resolved?
Justin Trudeau: (14:30)
We have over the past weeks received millions upon millions of items of PPE from around the world, including from China. Over the course of this time, there have been a small number that have been not to the levels that Canadians expected. We are continuing to follow up and work on it to make sure that the equipment that we deliver to our frontline workers, to our healthcare workers across this country is at Canadian standards.
Justin Trudeau: (15:04)
We will be receiving flights of PPE from China and other places almost daily over the coming weeks. We know that we are needing to ensure enough high quality equipment for Canadians right across the country, and we’re continuing to do just that.
Speaker 7: (16:00)
Justin Trudeau: (16:03)
Justin Trudeau: (16:03)
Speaker 8: (16:17)
[French 00:16:17] Theresa.
Thank you. People working in grocery stores and on farms and in longterm care facilities have often come from marginalized populations and now they’re considered essential workers. Are we placing too high a burden on marginalized people in this pandemic?
Justin Trudeau: (16:38)
I think one of the things that we’re seeing through this pandemic is that there are people who are tremendously economically vulnerable and vulnerable in other ways in our society who are extremely important to the functioning of our society. As we’ve made it through this pandemic so far we’ve been focusing on supporting these most vulnerable people in this top up four essential workers delivered by the provinces, is another piece of support for people who need it in order to get through this time as best we can as a country.
Justin Trudeau: (17:11)
We know, however, that once we get through this in the months and years to come, we’re also going to have reflections about how we manage and how we maintain our longterm care facilities, how we support essential workers who are very low paid, how we move forward as a society to make sure that our vulnerable are properly taken care of, and properly rewarded for the important work they do.
Justin Trudeau: (17:38)
Kevin Gallagher: (17:43)
Good morning prime minister, Kevin Gallagher with CTV news. Cargill meat packing in High River, Alberta, the workers have gone back. Many are still very concerned about the safety of their work conditions, but also outside of the factory, in their communities. Many are experiencing racism and discrimination because they work at the plant. Many of them, of course, are new Canadians. You have said that worker’s safety really falls under provincial jurisdiction, but at what point does the federal have to step in to ensure worker safety at Cargill and other food processing facilities across the country?
Justin Trudeau: (19:07)
I think one of the things that this crisis has shown us is various points of vulnerability, both in our supply chains, but also in terms of people who work in jobs we find extremely important right across the country for feeding Canadians, for allowing our economy to run. There are obviously going to be many reflections we’re going to have as a society in the coming months and years on how we make sure that the country is fair and the country is supportive and protecting everyone in the important work that they do.
Justin Trudeau: (19:42)
In the meantime, we will continue to work with the provinces on assuring both continued flow of food supply chains, but also ensuring that there is a proper support for the people who work in these industries and in this, processing, and in agriculture. That was part of what our announcement yesterday, which was a first and initial installment, our first investment in supporting agricultural workers and producers to be able to be safe while they do such important work for Canadians.
Kevin Gallagher: (20:16)
We are talking about like the largest outbreak in North America here, so how do you evaluate the provincial regulators here? Has the province done enough in your view to keep those workers safe?
Justin Trudeau: (20:31)
I think there are a lot of questions being asked of how various provinces have handled different aspects of this pandemic. I will be talking with the premiers tonight to offer, again, in so many different ways how the federal government can help. What we just announced today is a top up for essential workers, is a great example of the federal government and the provincial governments working together on protecting Canadians.
Justin Trudeau: (20:57)
Obviously, there are always things to learn, always things that we need to do better and as the provinces look to step up and do more and do differently and do better, the federal government will be there to support them.
Speaker 9: (21:10)
Justin Trudeau: (21:55)
[ French 00:00:21:25].
Speaker 9: (21:57)
Justin Trudeau: (23:12)
Salimah Shivji: (23:24)
Good morning. Prime minister, Salimah Shivji, CBC, as a lot of governments are looking towards recovery from this, the economic recovery here in Canada, how will you be able to help the Canadian economy get back on his feet from this reduced spending and yet also respect some of the promises that you made in the elections on big ticket items like pharmacare and infrastructure spending?
Justin Trudeau: (23:43)
Obviously this situation has become the new priority that we have to deal with. It is an economic impact the likes of which hasn’t been seen in over 70 years on Canadians from coast to coast to coast, on families, on sectors, on businesses, and the measures we have put forward that are historic-
Justin Trudeau: (24:03)
… and without precedent in terms of supporting families and supporting workers, supporting communities, supporting small businesses. These are the things that are going to help us get through and our priority right now is helping people hold on while we have to stay isolated because of COVID-19 and then start restarting carefully the economy in a gradual and progressive way with the right measures in place. Once we get through this, there will be plenty of time to talk about what the longer term looks like, what the future of Canada looks like, what is needed for various sectors for various Canadians. We’ve seen a whole bunch of new needs popped up that we had not paid much attention to over the past years, like the plight of most vulnerable workers. We had as a government invested massively in reducing poverty over the past five years, we’ve seen over a million people lifted out of poverty, but there’s obviously much more to do and we’re going to continue to focus on that. I think there is going to be time to talk about longterm plans as we get through this. Right now our focus is on getting Canadians through this.
Salimah Shivji: (25:15)
Right, but other governments are also focused on recovery and what they will do as part of that recovery. The UK, for example, it’s climate advisers are saying that “All recovery will have a green focus.” They have a net zero by 2050 commitment just as your government does. So how will the recovery take into account your climate change promises in the last election?
Justin Trudeau: (25:35)
I think one of the things that we’re very much thinking about is how do we build back better? How do we look at what this pandemic has challenged us with, what it has highlighted around needs or gaps in Canada, and how do we look to rebuild and recover in a way that advances us in the right direction? Obviously less pollution, greener outcomes are going to be a part of it. More digital, more connected is going to be a part of it. Better supports for vulnerable Canadians and more equality across this country needs to be part of it as well. These are principles that we’re looking at right now and reflecting on how we go forward and we’re going to continue to.
Janet Silver: (26:18)
Prime minister, Janet Silver, Global News. Yesterday, Green Party parliamentary leader, Elizabeth May said the oil sector in Canada is basically dead and the block leader went on to say putting more money into that business is a very bad idea. I’m just wondering if you would share this assessment and will your government give more money to this industry given the opposition and given how low oil prices are and is expected to continue for the unseeable future?
Justin Trudeau: (26:43)
I don’t share that assessment. I know that if we are to move forward in transforming our economy towards lower emissions and cleaner processes, workers and innovators in Alberta and across the country in the energy sector are going to be an essential part of that transformation. As we move forward towards a different energy mix, as we move forward to lower fossil fuel emissions, a lot lower greenhouse gas emissions. We need the innovation, the hard work and the vision and the creativity of people working right now in the energy sector. We need to support Albertans and other people working in the energy sector through this incredible difficult time as families, as workers, as communities, not just because that’s what we do as Canadians, but because we need their capacity to innovate and figure out how we’re going to move forward towards our greater greener goals. We can’t do it without them and that’s why we’re going to keep supporting them in the right ways.
Justin Trudeau: (27:56)
[foreign language 00: 04:03]
Janet Silver: (29:09)
Prime Minister, you previously indicated that you would look at other nations, for example, France and Australia and what they are doing when it comes to tech giants like Google and Facebook being forced to share ad revenue with Canadian news content providers. Given how many news content providers are struggling, especially in small towns and in some cases closing and how vital those are to those small towns. You said you would address the matter. I’m just wondering are you prepared to do so now especially at such a vital time for truth and news?
Justin Trudeau: (29:40)
It is extremely important that we support our news sector because Canadians need the information to keep them safe, to plan for their futures, to lean on each other. We need the media now during a crisis more than we ever have and that’s why as a government that has put forward significant measures to support news media, we’re going to continue to work to do just that. I can assure you that Minister Guillebeau is working very hard and very closely with allies around the world to see what they’re doing and with the sector here in Canada, to ensure that Canadians get top quality information, that decision makers and politicians continue to be held to account, and that we continue to make decisions based on facts and a shared understanding of the reality we’re facing. The work that the media does is essential. We will continue to support it.
Justin Trudeau: (31:20)
[foreign language 00:06:58]