May 8, 2020

Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference May 8

Trudeau Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript May 8
RevBlogTranscriptsCanada COVID-19 Briefing TranscriptsJustin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference May 8

Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Friday, May 8 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau announced the wage subsidy program to be extended beyond June.


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Justin Trudeau: (00:00)
[foreign language 00:00:12].

Justin Trudeau: (00:11)
Earlier today, we received the job report for April. These numbers tell us what we already knew, that right now Canadians are hurting because of this pandemic. Everyone has their own story, but it all boils down to a very difficult time for a lot of people. Canadians aren’t alone in this as the world faces COVID-19, but if you’re out of work, you don’t need to hear that other people are out of work too. You need to know that there is a plan to get you through this and get you back on the job and that’s exactly what this government is focused on.

Justin Trudeau: (00:51)
[foreign language 00:00:54].

Justin Trudeau: (00:56)
In the face of this unprecedented challenge, we’ve taken action. Maybe you’re one of the more than 7 million people getting the CERB to help make ends meet or better yet maybe thanks to the wage subsidy, your employer has been able to rehire you. That’s what’s happened for people who work at Pursuit, a Banff tourism company. They’re back on the job because of this program. We created the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to protect jobs wherever possible. Since it launched last week, employers have applied for subsidies for almost 2 million workers and as provinces and territories start to gradually reopened over the coming months and the CERB becomes less and less needed, this subsidy will play an even greater role. That’s why I can announce today that we will be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy beyond June to help kickstart our economic reopening and boost jobs.

Justin Trudeau: (02:24)
We’ll have more details next week, but to businesses hit by COVID-19, know this: the wage subsidy will continue to be there for you to help you keep your employees on the payroll. So fill out the application at if you haven’t already done so, and if you had to let people go, try to bring them back. It’s those workers who will drive our economies short and longterm recovery. On other support, the Canada Emergency Business Account has been accessed by well over half a million businesses to give them much needed loans. Between the CIBA and the wage subsidy, we’re helping employers across the country keep Canadians on the job. Now, even though we’re reaching millions of Canadians, we need to reach even more. We’re working around the clock to update and adjust so that help gets to as many workers, small businesses, families and young people as possible. We also know that some sectors have been hit especially hard, so we’re stepping up on that too. Minister Bains will be leading a new industry strategy council chaired by Monique Leroux, this council will take a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting specific sectors and how to best support them. We’re leveraging expertise from the economic strategy tables we set up in the first mandate as well as looking to new industry leaders. This will be a dedicated forum for industry and government to come together on tackling the effects of COVID-19 and it builds on what we’ve already done for workers and everything from energy to agriculture.

Justin Trudeau: (04:18)
On that note, Minister Guilbeault will have more details at noon about how our $500 million package for arts, culture and amateur sport is now being rolled out to support workers in those sectors. This investment will help people access wage support and help organizations access funding. Our artists, creators, and young athletes inspire us and help us feel connected, even when we’re at home. They’re there for us and we’re going to be there for them. No matter where you work, no matter who you are, these are tough times. But with the right plan, we will get through this and we’ll come back stronger than ever.

Justin Trudeau: (07:03)
[ foreign language 00:05:24]

Justin Trudeau: (07:49)
It’s hard to think of tougher times for our country, but as our elders remind us, Canada has faced challenges before and we’ve always overcome them. Today we mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and the end of the Second World War on the continent. After six years of war, it must have felt like that day would never come, but it did. And it came because of the courage of all who served and because of the sacrifice of all who gave their life. It has been 75 years since our grandparents and great grandparents stood up to do their part. 75 years since they stood united and strong to ensure that we would live in peace and freedom. Today as our generation faces our own battle, let us be inspired by them and their valor as we protect them and all Canadians. This is our challenge and I know we will rise to meet it. [foreign language 00:09:06].

Speaker 1: (09:06)
Thank you, Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phone lines for questions. One question, one follow up. Operator.

Operator: (09:12)
Thank you. The first question is from Jamie Tasha [inaudible 00:09:17] from APTN, line open.

Jamie Tasha: (09:22)
Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. As we all know, indigenous communities in the North are vulnerable due to social conditions like lack of housing and lack of medical facilities and it’s been said that indigenous communities are two weeks behind the curve. Now with provinces relaxing restrictions, some of these communities might see that as a threat. Do you agree with that opinion? And secondly, what would your advice be to those communities?

Justin Trudeau: (09:47)
From the very beginning of this pandemic, we have seen and known that indigenous communities, particularly Northern and remote ones, are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, given existing challenges around medical facilities-

Justin Trudeau: (10:03)
… things like overcrowding and other social economic realities. That’s why from the beginning we have made specific investments to support Indigenous communities as the country grapples with this pandemic. Right across the country, as certain regions are reopening, there is a recognition that other regions are going to need continued adjustments and continued protections and we will ensure that we continue to work all together on protecting Indigenous communities who are indeed more vulnerable even as other parts of the economy are looking at opening up.

Speaker 1: (10:43)
Follow up, Jamie.

Jamie Tasha: (10:46)
Okay, so they’ve been doing pretty well so far, but like I said, they’re two weeks behind the curve. So with provinces opening up, what would you suggest that they do?

Justin Trudeau: (10:55)
I think we need to make sure we’re keeping extremely vigilant and preventing outside cases from entering those communities. We’ve seen, for example, Nunavut be very successful, not just remaining two weeks behind the curve, but months behind the curve as they continue to have no cases because of very strong travel restrictions that were brought in immediately and have served to keep the vulnerable and remote communities in our far north completely COVID free. But right across the country, various communities will take appropriate measures and we will be there as the government and other orders of government as well to support them in doing the things that need to be done to keep elders and all in those communities safe.

Speaker 1: (11:46)
Thank you. Next question, operator.

Operator: (11:50)
Thank you. [foreign language 00: 01:51].

Speaker 2: (12:52)
[foreign language 00:02:00].

Justin Trudeau: (12:55)
[foreign language 00: 02:07].

Justin Trudeau: (13:08)
From the beginning, we recognized that we needed to constantly adjust and improve the delivery of these unprecedented mechanisms to support Canadians who are suffering through this particular crisis. That’s why we recognize that there are many different things we need to do as the economy starts to reopen. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit had always been planned to last longer, had a timeline that was already longer than the wage subsidy, but we recognize that as the economy starts to reopen, people will be getting back to work, leaving the Emergency Response Benefit and perhaps going on to the wage subsidy as employers bring people back on and get them back to work as our economy picks up over the coming weeks and months. That’s why we will constantly be adjusting to make sure that Canadians are getting the support they need as we look to carefully and gradually restarting our economy.

Speaker 2: (14:21)
[foreign language 00:04:15].

Speaker 3: (14:22)
[foreign language 00:14:14].

Justin Trudeau: (14:22)
[foreign language 00:14:37].

Speaker 2: (14:22)
[foreign language 00:15:39].

Operator: (15:43)
Thank you. Next question, Mike Blanchfield the Canadian Press. Line open.

Mike Blanchfield: (15:51)
Hello, Prime Minister. Two successive job reports are showing that women in service roles have been disproportionately effected by the pandemic. In light of that, what specific measures do you think are needed to strengthen Canada’s economic recovery?

Justin Trudeau: (16:07)
This is one of the first recessions we’ve ever seen that has so hard hit vulnerable workers in the service sector, particularly women, new Canadians, and young people. And that was evident in the March numbers and continues to be the case in the April numbers. What we’re seeing even beyond these reports and these numbers is the reality on the ground, that people who are already vulnerable in the workforce, people who are already disadvantaged or facing extra barriers, are always the first to get hit when we have a difficult situation like this. That’s why as a society not only do we need to do what we are doing in the short term to give extra supports to vulnerable people, but we need to make sure that as we move forward to rebuilding and creating a more prosperous Canada in the coming months and years, we think very, very carefully about how important the work is that is being done by women and vulnerable Canadians and how we need to make sure we’re better supporting them, not just for potential future crises, but for business as usual as our country comes back to normal.

Justin Trudeau: (17:26)
[foreign language 00:07:25].

Speaker 1: (18:14)
Follow up, Mike.

Mike Blanchfield: (18:17)
Yes, Prime Minister. Give that reality on the ground that you’re talking about and that vulnerable people, as you say, are the first to get hit, how will you ensure that government stimulus money helps those people first and does not go into the bottom line for big corporations?

Justin Trudeau: (18:31)
Well, we are not yet talking about stimulus. We are still very much in the support and emergency phase right now, and that’s why from the beginning the measures we put forward have been entirely focused on Canadians. With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, that’s over seven million people across this country who have benefited from that. With the wage subsidy that goes to workers, employers don’t keep a penny of that. They pass it through to their workers so that workers have that continued link with their job and get a paycheck that will ensure that as the economy reopens they will be able to come back to work quickly and smoothly. Our focus, every step of the way, even on supporting small businesses, has being ensuring that people are able to keep jobs going for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Justin Trudeau: (19:26)
We will, over the coming days, start looking at specific sectoral supports for various industries that been hit particularly hard by COVIDF-19. But even then our focus will be on the workers, on the supply chains that involve many, many small businesses across this country for many of these industries and not on the corporate wellbeing of an industry or of a sector, but indeed staying focused on helping Canadians because it is Canadians who are at the heart of our economic success, at the heart of-

Justin Trudeau: (20:03)
… our economic success, at the heart of our success as a country. And as a government, we will always stay focused on them.

Speaker 1: (20:09)
Thank you. We’ll take one more question on the phone. Operator?

Operator: (21:12)
Thank you. [French 00:00:13].

Speaker 4: (21:53)
[French 00:00:19].

Justin Trudeau: (21:56)
[French 00:21:02].

Speaker 4: (21:56)
[French 00:02: 00].

Justin Trudeau: (22:01)
I think one of the things that is fundamental in Canada is that no one, whether in crisis times or in regular times should be working in a job, in conditions that are unsafe or put them at risk. That is a fundamental principle of Canada that we will always ensure to uphold. In this particular situation, there are heightened concerns about health for a large number of people, or for everyone, but particularly and even in essential work sectors. We need to make sure that we are putting in place all the necessary measures so that people can feel confident about their own safety, about having minimized the risks as they get back to work.

Justin Trudeau: (22:50)
That’s why we put that as one of the fundamental principles that needs to be in place before any sector talks about reopening the economy. That was part of the principles agreed to by the provinces and the federal government on relaunching our economy.

Operator: (25:54)
[French 00:03:08].

Speaker 4: (26:54)
[French 00:03:10].

Justin Trudeau: (26:56)
[French 00:23:39].

Speaker 5: (26:56)
[French 00:24:26].

Justin Trudeau: (26:56)
[French 00:24:42].

Speaker 5: (26:56)
[French 00:25:55].

Justin Trudeau: (26:57)
[French 00:06: 04].

Tom Perry: (27:03)
Hi, Prime Minister. Tom Perry with CBC. Just like to ask you about the jobs’ numbers again. You were talking about just how some groups are getting hit disproportionately hard, thinking young people, thinking women. What specifically can the government do as the recovery begins to make sure that these groups aren’t permanently set back?

Justin Trudeau: (27:21)
I think the idea of permanent challenges is particularly poignant for young people where we know that a summer without work experience, a summer where they are struggling to pay their groceries or their rent is a significant setback in their march towards economic independence and successful outcomes after their schooling. That’s why we put in place the Canada Emergency Student Benefit to help them this summer make sure that there aren’t longterm impacts. Women particularly, that we’ve seen, have been extremely impacted by this economic challenge as well as a health challenge.

Justin Trudeau: (28:07)
We have moved forward on supports for them, particularly more emergency supports for women who are facing challenges of domestic violence, but at the same time we know we have to do more. The importance of childcare has been yet again emphasized. That as we move towards economic restarting, there needs to be more and secure childcare spaces for people to get back into the workforce. These are the kinds of things that we’re going to have to think about, both in the immediate, but also for the longer term, to make sure that equality in this country is more than just a goal, but is a concrete reality.

Speaker 5: (28:51)
[French 00:08:49].

Justin Trudeau: (28:52)
[French 00:28:51].

Justin Trudeau: (30:00)
[foreign language 00:00:00].

Tom Perry: (30:15)
And I’d like to ask you about transit in Toronto. The TTC is going to be making some historic cuts to its service, because of the pandemic. Transit groups have been calling on the federal government to provide emergency funding, keep buses, trains rolling. Get emergency or essential workers to their jobs. Is that something that the government could look at?

Justin Trudeau: (30:36)
This government has made historic investments in transit over the past years. We recognize that public transit is an essential part of growing the economy, of helping our cities and mostly helping people to be able to get to work from home in a reliable way. That’s why we believe so deeply in transit. Operation of transit is more of a municipal and provincial responsibility, and we hope to see the provinces stepping up on supporting this essential element of the economic relaunch. People are going to need to be able to get to and from work, as we want to get the economy going again. But the federal government is always looking to be a partner in helping out, in terms of economic relaunch, wherever we can.

Rachel Haynes: (31:26)
Prime minister, [Rachel Haynes 00:00:31:28] from CTV National News. Last week you were saying that help is coming for seniors. They have been asking for the last few weeks, where the help for them is. You’re talking about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which gives $2,000 to the people who you say need it most. But seniors are still vulnerable, and they still need to pay their rent and their groceries. And they’re saying that the government programs that they receive, still don’t add up to $2,000. So, why do some people deserve $2,000 from the government and other people don’t?

Justin Trudeau: (31:58)
First of all, we have worked very, very hard to help all Canadians with replacement of income that has been lost during this. We knew that workers who were expecting to get a paycheck, to be able to pay for their groceries, to be able to pay for their rent. And suddenly, because of COVID-19, lost their job and there were millions of them, as we saw, in the recent job numbers today, needed to get that income replacement. And we did that with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Justin Trudeau: (32:26)
Seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes, did not see that disappearance of their income, at the same time. Although, some did and many qualify for the SERB, even as seniors. And therefore, are getting the support. At the same time, however, we recognize that there are additional costs and additional vulnerabilities that seniors have been facing. And that’s why we have made investments, whether it’s through increasing the GST supplement that hits many, many vulnerable seniors. Whether it’s through new programs that are supporting seniors in vulnerable situations. And like I said, we’ll have more to say, very soon, on how we continue to support the seniors who built us this extraordinary country and to whom we owe so much thanks.

Speaker 6: (33:13)
[inaudible 00:03:11].

Justin Trudeau: (33:21)
[foreign language 00:03:14] revenue [foreign language 00:03:20] revenue fix [crosstalk 00:33:54] program specific [foreign language 00:34:25].

Rachel Haynes: (33:54)
And, prime minister, a few minutes ago in response to a colleague’s question, you said that people don’t have to go back to work if they don’t feel safe there. Yesterday workers outside of the cargo meat plant, which is the largest outbreak in Canada, are saying that they don’t feel safe going to work, even though their employers are saying that they’ve put measures in place. Should these workers be staying home, and what do you say to them if they’re not feeling safe?

Justin Trudeau: (35:07)
I’m not going to weigh in on specific cases in provincial jurisdiction, but I will say that it is a well-established principle in Canada, and a hallmark of our values as a country, that no one should be asked to work in unsafe conditions. That applies during a pandemic as well. We have put in many measures, across various industries to minimize the risk, particularly around essential work. But we’re going to have to be very careful to ensure that we’re doing what we need to do, right across the country. Businesses, orders of governments and all Canadians, to ensure the safety of the people who are working to provide for the rest of us.

Brian Mullen: (35:52)
Good morning, prime minister. [Brian Mullen 00:00:35:54], Global News. Taiwan has donated 500,000 surgical masks, needed by Canadian healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. Your foreign minister wouldn’t thank the country by name, will you?

Justin Trudeau: (36:05)
I’m happy to thank Taiwan for its generous donation. It is important at this point, that Canadians and all people around the world pull together to be there for each other, because this is a global challenge that is going to face a global response. And we need to do this together, and we will.

Maurica Walsh: (36:24)
[Maurica Walsh 00:06:24] with the Globe and Mail. The former prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, says China is a bully and that the way for Canada to deal with China is to stand up for it instead of backing down. Is your government standing up to China or is it backing away from China?

Justin Trudeau: (36:40)
My responsibility as prime minister is to make sure that we are providing for Canadians, and keeping Canadians safe. That’s the job people expect me to do, and that is exactly what I’m doing. We’re going to ensure that Canadians have the equipment, the supplies, the support they need to make it through this pandemic. Of course, at the same time, we will be asking difficult questions about how we’re making it through this pandemic, how this came to happen, how we can learn from this. There’ll be plenty of time for questions in the months to come. My focus rightly, is on doing everything I can to help Canadians through this.

Maurica Walsh: (37:16)
So are you standing up to China?

Justin Trudeau: (37:17)
[foreign language 00:37:19].

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