Jun 4, 2021
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript June 4
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided coronavirus and vaccine updates during a press conference on June 4, 2021. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Prime Minister Trudeau: (00:10)
Hello everyone. [foreign language 00:00:11] Today, I want to talk to you about vaccines and what we’re doing for the post-pandemic recovery. I also want to talk about steps we’re taking to continue to move forward with reconciliation. Let’s start with vaccines. I can now confirm that Canada will receive over 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine every week until the end of August. Following our shipments this month, that means more than 9 million doses arriving in July and another 9.1 million in August. Given the demand for these vaccines, we’ve also negotiated an option for 3 million more Pfizer doses to be delivered in September. We’ll keep getting shipments secured until everyone can get their shots, but at the pace we’re going, that target is well within reach.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (01:04)
Sixty-five percent of eligible Canadians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That makes Canada the G20 country with the highest percentage of the population with a first shot. That is really encouraging because the more people are vaccinated, the safer we all are. And the closer we all get to being through this crisis. In other words, you have reason to be hopeful about this summer and this fall. So let’s start looking forward to more of what we love from camping to dinner with friends.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (01:41)
[foreign language 00:01:41] Canada will be receiving over two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week until the end of August. These vaccines will help lead us to a better future. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss with some volunteers from This Is Our Shot, a group that brings together stake holders from commerce and industry, as well as people from unions and all kinds of backgrounds. And their goal is to encourage vaccination across the country. They are doing excellent work and we’re here to support that type of initiative. We’re all working with the same goal. And speaking of working together, today I also want to talk about another very important subject, reconciliation. This has been a painful week for so many indigenous people in communities across the country. On Wednesday, Minister Bennett announced funding that is ready to be deployed immediately to support survivors, families, and communities harmed by the terrible wrongs of the residential school system. Twenty-seven million dollars is now available to indigenous communities to find and honor children who died at these institutions. This is something that communities have asked for, and we’ve long been here to support that. Of course, we also know that residential schools were only one piece of a larger colonial system. And the work to right these wrongs both past and present is far from over.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (03:17)
[foreign language 00:03:17] Yesterday, the National Action Plan was presented in response to the final report on the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous girls. As part of this plan, we also launched our contribution, the Federal Pathway which lays out what our government will do to follow up on the final reports Call Us To Action. We’re accelerating our work and our investments to improve the lives of indigenous people, always in partnership with them.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (03:48)
When we took office in 2015, this was the reality. Indigenous kids were receiving on average, only two thirds of their share of funding for education as compared to non-indigenous students. There was underinvestment in schools, on reserve across the country. Zero Jordan’s Principle requests were granted and in 10 years under Stephen Harper, there was no serious work done on lifting long-term drinking water advisories. In the years since, we have made progress.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (04:22)
[foreign language 00:04:22] Since 2015, around 33,000 children now have new schools or better schools. We supported over 828,000 requests under Jordan’s Principle so that children can remain healthy. We also improved fairness when it comes to primary and secondary school funding for indigenous students while ensuring that young people have access to education in their language, that it’s culturally appropriate and takes into account local priorities. And all across the country, we have made progress in rectifying the shortcomings that have existed for too long by lifting over a hundred boil water advisories. And those are just a few examples of what we’ve done.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (05:14)
Just this week in parliament, we officially created the national day for truth and reconciliation. We’ve moved forward so that our citizenship oath now includes recognition of indigenous peoples. And the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples has made it through the House and I call on the Senate to ensure that it passes very soon. Overall, 80% of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action that fall under our government’s responsibility are completed or well underway. This is progress, but there is much more to do. That’s why we’re giving more control to indigenous communities over healthcare, as well as making sure there are fewer indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system. Indigenous peoples across the country should feel safe and respected and should have a real and fair chance at success. Together, this is the future we must all build.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (06:16)
Finally, I want to talk about this morning’s news that the economy lost 68,000 jobs in May, particularly part-time jobs because of the third wave. If you lost your job, we’re here for you. The wage subsidy, the stronger and more flexible EI, the Canada Recovery Benefit, those were designed for you. We have your back as long as this crisis lasts.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (06:43)
[foreign language 00:06:43] We’re determined to beat this pandemic. And to ensure that we can all emerge stronger. Thank you. I will now be giving the floor to Minister Anand.
Minister Anand: (06:58)
Thank you, Prime Minister. Hello everyone. With the updated Pfizer schedule that the prime minister just announced, we now have the complete schedule from Pfizer for all of our committed doses, including the additional 3 million options announced that we would be purchasing today. That is a total of 51 million doses that will have been delivered from Pfizer before the end of September. I would like to sincerely thank Pfizer for the partnership. We have a complete delivery schedule from Pfizer. Pfizer’s deliveries arrive on time and are stable. Thank you so much.
Minister Anand: (07:41)
[foreign language 00:07:41] As I’ve said frequently during these updates, the second quarter of this year would be marked by ever increasing deliveries. And that is exactly what we have seen. Right now we have had 29 million doses delivered to Canada. Twenty-five million of which have been administered by the provinces and territories. And more than two thirds of eligible Canadians have had at least one dose.
Minister Anand: (08:13)
[foreign language 00:08:13] But the work is not done yet. I continue to work with Moderna as well as the U.S. Government to stabilize its delivery schedule to Canada. Once that schedule is confirmed, I will of course share the details. In the meantime, we know that Moderna will be delivering millions more doses this month and in the weeks ahead. At least 1.5 million doses will be coming during the week of June 14th, for example. And let us not forget that Pfizer is going to continue to deliver more than 2 million doses per week until at least the end of August.
Minister Anand: (08:56)
[foreign language 00:08:56] By early next week, Canada will have received more than 30 million doses of vaccines. Millions of Canadians have already received their first dose. And I strongly encourage any eligible person who has yet to receive the first dose to do so.
Minister Anand: (09:19)
In fact, all of my family members, including my four children, have now had their first shot. One final note. The other day I had the privilege to meet with representatives from this Is Our Shot, a group of dedicated volunteers working hard every day to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated. I want to thank them and congratulate them on the amazing work that they are doing. In closing, Canada is now first in the G20 and the G7 for the percentage of our population with at least one dose. The vaccines are here. With millions more on the way, that is my sole focus. That is our government’s focus to bring vaccines to Canada for Canadians. Thank you. [foreign language 00:10:11].
Speaker 1: (10:15)
Dr. [Tim 00:19:03].
Dr. Tim: (10:19)
[foreign language 00:10:19] Good morning everyone. Nationally COVID 19 disease activity and severity trends continue to decline. The latest seven day average for daily cases is just over 2,300, which is 73% lower than the peak of the third wave. The latest seven day average for the number of people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day has dropped 47% since the peak to just over 2,300 daily. Of these on average, 1000 were being treated in the intensive care units down 31% since the peak and average daily deaths are down 35% to 34 deaths being reported daily. As of today over 25 million doses have been administered across Canada with close to 2.8 million Canadians getting a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the past week alone.
Dr. Tim: (11:19)
As of May 29, 65% of the population aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose. As of May 30, there have been 44 national reports of rare, but serious blood clots with low levels of blood platelets following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccines in Canada. Of those 30 have tested positive for the PF4 antibodies meeting the definition of vaccine induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenic or VITT. Laboratory testing on the remaining 14 individuals is ongoing. Sadly, among those confirmed cases of VITT, there have been five deaths reported. We offer our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who have passed away.
Dr. Tim: (12:11)
Every week, we get closer to 75% of eligible Canadians having received a first dose of vaccine protection against COVID-19. As we pass that goal in the coming weeks, provinces and territories are also accelerating their second dose programs to get more people in Canada fully vaccinated for optimal protection against COVID-19. If you don’t have your first shot or haven’t booked an appointment yet, now is the time. This includes those who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as those with an autoimmune condition or who are immunosuppressed.
Dr. Tim: (12:50)
If you’ve already had your first shot. Thank you. It’s win-win. You’re now better protected and you’ve taken an important step to bring us closer to end the crisis phase of the pandemic in Canada. You can now keep an eye out for when you’ll be eligible to receive your second shot. Even if you already have an appointment, be sure to monitor local public health information as appointment dates may be moved up as supply increases. Getting that second dose is important, both for your own protection and for building immunity in your community. This is a double-double win-win. While your first dose provides priming immunity, providing most of us with good protection and reducing the likelihood of severe illness, the second dose is crucial for boosting immune our systems to build strong and longer lasting immunity. We’re on the right path to get back to the things that we miss. Let’s keep going steady as we go and not let complacency hold us back from a safer summer sooner. Thank you. [foreign language 00:13:56]
Dr. Tim: (13:56)
[foreign language 00:13:56] Good morning, everyone. Nationally, COVID-19 disease activity and severity trends continue to decline. The latest seven day average for daily cases was just over 2300 which is 73% lower than the peak of the third wave. The latest 7 day average for the number of people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals every day has dropped 47% since the peak to just over 2300 daily. Of these, on average 1, 000 people were being treated in intensive care units down 31% since the peak. And average daily deaths are down 35% to 34 deaths being reported daily. As of today, almost 25 million doses have been administered across Canada with close to 2.8 million Canadians getting a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the past week alone.
Dr. Tim: (14:07)
As of the end of May, 65% of the population age 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of May 30, there have been 44 national reports of rare but serious blood clots with low levels of blood platelets following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada. Of these, 30 have tested positive for PF4 antibodies. Meaning the definition of vaccine induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia or VITT. Laboratory testing on the remaining 14 individuals is ongoing. Sadly, among these confirmed cases of VITT, there have been 5 deaths reported. We offer our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who have passed away.
Dr. Tim: (14:07)
Every week we get closer to 75% of eligible Canadians having received their first dose of vaccine protection against COVID-19. As we pass that goal, in the coming weeks, the provinces and territories are also accelerating their second dose programs to get more people in Canada fully vaccinated for optimal protection against COVID-19. If you don’t have your first shot, or haven’t booked an appointment yet, now is the time. This includes those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As well as those with an autoimmune condition or if you are immunosuppressed.
Dr. Tim: (14:22)
If you’ve already received your first dose, thank you. It’s win-win. You are now better protected and you’ve taken an important step to bring us closer to ending the crisis phase of the pandemic in Canada. You can now keep an eye out for when you will become eligible to receive your second shot. Even if you already have an appointment, be sure to monitor local public health information as appointment dates may be moved up as supply increases. Getting that second dose is important both for your own protection and building immunity in your community. This is a double-double win-win. While your first dose provides priming immunity, providing most of us with good protection and reducing the likelihood of severe illness, the second dose is crucial for boosting our immune systems, to build strong and longer lasting immunity. We are on the right path to get back to the things that we miss. Let’s keep going steady, as steady as we go and not let complacency hold us back from a safer summer. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (16:19)
Brigadier General: (18:21)
I am pleased to say that as of this week, sufficient doses of Moderna have been delivered to the territories to fully vaccinate 85% of their 18 and older populations and transient workers. In the next week, the territory’s will receive Pfizer Biontech for all their 12 and up youth populations. This is a significant milestone. In total, we have shipped more than 29 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines across Canada. Earlier this week, Canada received its largest single shipment of Pfizer Biontech. Deliveries of-
Brigadier General: (19:03)
… single shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech. Deliveries of 2.4 million doses were completed yesterday.
Brigadier General: (19:10)
[Foreign language 00:19:10].
As mentioned in our last technical briefing, early June shipments of Moderna will be arriving in Canada in two separate batches. On Wednesday, over 400,000 doses of Moderna arrived in Canada. Those shipments are concluding today. A smaller shipment of 100,000 doses should arrive in Canada next Tuesday and will be distributed to the provinces in the following days. This will bring the total number of Moderna doses delivered to 500,000 for the first half of June. The next shipment of 1.5 million doses should arrive in Canada in mid-June.
Brigadier General: (20:07)
We are continuing our regular discussions with the provinces and territories. This week we met with each province and all territories in order to better understand their respective vaccination programs and how best we can support their immunization campaigns as we look forward to the summer and beyond.
Brigadier General: (20:32)
[Foreign language 00:20:32]
We are on track to distribute over 40 million doses by the end of this month. The national operation center continues to work with our provincial, territorial and indigenous partners across the country to ensure that all Canadians who want to get vaccinated can do so safely and as soon as possible.
Speaker 2: (21:07)
Thank you. Before we take questions, I’ll just point out that both the prime minister and minister will have to go for votes at a certain point, but just the doctors and brigadier general will be available. We’ll start with questions on the phone. Operator?
Thank you. Merci. You may press star one, if you have a question. [Foreign language 00:21:36].
[Foreign language 00:02:30]
Thank you. Happy Friday, Mr. Trudeau. The Commons will be adjourning for the year in a few days, will you be calling an election before the return in September?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (21:52)
[Foreign language 00:21:52]
As you know Raymond, our priority remains getting through this third wave of the pandemic and supporting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We know that the economic recovery is starting but there’s still a lot to work to do and we’re focusing on that. As far as the elections are concerned, I know nobody wants an election right now, so we are focusing on helping Canadians with our work in the House of Commons and we know that we are in a minority government situation and there may be an election eventually.
[Foreign language 00:22:17].
What would lead you to call an election this summer? What might lead you to do that?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (22:24)
[Foreign language 00:22:24].
Answer: well, Raymond if you look at the positions of the other parties, notable the conservative party, it’s clear that they have a very different vision of the economic recovery, the strong, green economic recovery that we want. We’ve been there to support Canadians at every step. We’ve been investing in women who were very hard hit by this pandemic. We’ve made a promise to be there for workers, families, small businesses, young people and seniors. And we’ve done that. And throughout this pandemic the conservatives criticized us. They said that we were investing too much, helping Canadians too much.
But what we’ve seen is that we’ve been able to weather this pandemic better than many other comparable countries around the world. And we will continue to invest in a greener, stronger, more innovative and more effective recovery for everyone. There are significant differences between our vision of a strong recovery and the conservative’s vision. They are still focusing on cuts, budget cuts, to fight the deficit. And at a certain point we won’t be able to function as a parliament like that. But, for the moment, our priority remains working for Canadians.
[Foreign language 00:23:54]
The next question is from Dylan Robertson from the Winnipeg Free Press. Please go ahead.
Dylan Robertson: (24:03)
Hello, prime minister. We’ve had indigenous leaders saying it’s not appropriate to have bands apply for federal funding to examine residential school burial sites without having a coordinated strategy to ensure the evidence is properly gathered. They say that the funding you’ve reallocated basically leaves traumatized bands to go through the work of finding their own contractors. You said this week that nobody wants federal agents to come storming reserves, and I don’t think anyone’s asking for that. The chiefs say they want some sort of coordination. We now have bands in Manitoba appealing to the International Commission on Missing Persons to help guide their work on burial sites. I’d like to know why you’re a government hasn’t committed to an actual strategy for this and if you’re comfortable with global agencies stepping in to fill that gap?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (24:50)
First and foremost, Dylan, as we’ve said from the beginning, the families and the communities need to be at the center of and in charge of any and all next steps. Obviously, the rigor and the professionalism and the sensitivity, and ideally, a certain amount of shared processes across the country would make sense, but those are things that the government will not be dictating.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (25:26)
Every different community is different. These residential school sites have different significances and different current vocations in communities, some are community centers, some are museums, some have been torn down. There is a different approach right across the country in regards to these potential burial sites. And I think it’s really, really important that we be guided not by what we think must be done in terms of our frameworks, in terms of an approach on international norms, which are all important and should inform the ultimate decisions, but those decisions need to be led by and centered on the families, the survivors and the communities that are at the heart of this historical and ongoing tragedy.
Speaker 2: (26:29)
Follow up, Dylan?
Dylan Robertson: (26:30)
Prime minister, I want to ask you about the Catholic Church withholding residential school records. The church has not followed its peers in turning over documents. I know your government has asked for records before, but why have you not ramped up that pressure over the past week on the Catholic Church to divulge these records?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (26:50)
Let me just say Dylan, as a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic Church has taken, now and over the past many years. When I went to the Vatican a number of years ago, I directly asked His Holiness Pope Francis to move forward on apologizing, on asking for forgiveness, on restitution, on making these records available. And we’re still seeing resistance from the church, possibly from the church in Canada. I think it’s going to be a really important moment for all of us, particularly Catholics across the country to reach out in our local parishes, to reach out to bishops and cardinals and make it clear that we expect the church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records that is necessary. It’s something, a number of other churches, the United Church and others, have done. It’s something we are all still waiting for the Catholic Church to do.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (28:13)
[Foreign language 00:28:13].
As Catholic, I will say that I find it very difficult that the Catholic Church is still refusing to apologize and to participate in this important process of truth and healing. When I went to the Vatican a few years ago, I asked Pope Francis directly to be there to help people heal, to recognize the role that the Catholic Church played in this tragedy.
Unfortunately, over the last years we have not seen that. And that includes the catholic authorities here in Canada. The government will continue to put pressure on the church and other institutions to recognize their role in this. And I would ask Catholics across the country to speak to their priests and bishops and to transmit the message that it is time for the Catholic Church to recognize its responsibility and its share of the guilt. And also to call on the church to be there during this process of truth and healing that will be so essential.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (29:42)
[Foreign language 00:29:42].
Just a moment, please.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (29:46)
[Foreign language 00:29:46].
Okay, we still have half an hour before the vote. That’s good. Next question.
Speaker 2: (30:03)
Operator, next question.
I’m sorry. Thank you. The next question is from Jamie Pashagumskum APTN. Please go ahead.
Jamie Pashagumskum: (30:07)
All right. Thank you. I’m sorry. I’m on the phone. Is the prime minister still with us?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (30:15)
Yes. Yes, I am very much. Go ahead, please.
Jamie Pashagumskum: (30:17)
Okay. Thank you. Thanks, Mr. Prime Minister.
Jamie Pashagumskum: (30:21)
Now, the Canadian government is currently excluding thousands of First Nations families from settlement talks in a class action that deals with the under funding of the child welfare system and Jordan’s Principle. This is because the crown believes it can beat them in court based on legal technicalities. And you said time and time again, that nothing is more important to Canada than its relationship with indigenous people. As a gesture of reconciliation, and I know we’ve heard that term thrown around a lot year, this past week, will you reverse this position and include these plaintiffs in the settlement talks?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (30:59)
Thank you very much for your question. Let me first be very clear, we are not fighting indigenous kids in court, regardless of what political opponents may say. We have been working clearly and collaboratively with indigenous organizations and leadership across the country, on the harm that has been done over the past many years to far too many indigenous kids, now adults, in the child and family services system. We have recognized from the very beginning that those Canadian, those indigenous peoples, are worthy of compensation, and we will be compensating them. The questions and discussions ongoing with the communities and the leadership is about what the right level of compensation for different groups in different communities are, and those conversations are ongoing. But more than just compensations for wrongs of the past years, we also need to make sure we’re moving forward on changing the system that led to indigenous kids over the past few years, continuing to be taken from their communities, taken from their language, from their cultures. That is unacceptable. And that’s why over the past years, we worked with indigenous communities, indigenous leadership on reforming Child and Family Services so that indigenous communities could take care of their kids who are at risk, to put indigenous language, indigenous culture and indigenous teachings at the center of child and family services.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (32:49)
That was what bill C-92 did, which was passed last year in partnership with indigenous communities and something that we are continuing to work on now to not just compensate for the past, but to make a change for now and the future to make sure that kids are supported by community, by language, by culture, even in difficult moments.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (33:17)
[Foreign language 00:33:17].
First of all, I want to say at this point what some politicians have said, we are not fighting indigenous children in court. We are working with different organizations and different communities to ensure that there is fair compensation for young people, those who perhaps are not so young anymore, who suffered damages, who suffered harm, physical and mental harm in the Child Protection Services system.
We recognize that these individuals deserve compensation and we will compensate them. The question is, what is the appropriate level of compensation for a given individual given their circumstances. And that is something that we are working on constructively. But we have to remember that it’s not just enough to compensate people for things that happened a few years ago, ten years ago. We also need to end the Child Protection Services system that continues to take children from their communities, takes them away from their language, their culture, their traditional learning and it leaves them in a very difficult situation in terms of their cultural identity.
That’s why for the last number of years we’ve been working with indigenous communities to reform the Child Protection Act. And because we were able to get that bill through last year, we are now able to change the system in depth, to better protect children now and in the coming years. This is concrete progress. There is still work to do, but we will continue that work.
Speaker 2: (35:26)
And a follow-up, Jamie?
Jamie Pashagumskum: (35:30)
Yes. Respectfully Mr. Prime Minister, there’s some who might disagree with you. In 2000… last September, actually, you said that you would not fight certification, and then you kind of went back on it and said that you wanted to exclude victims between 1991 and 2007. These are families who are now adult children. They suffered, or some have died while waiting for Canadian government to provide services that they’re legally obligated to. Especially with the recent discovery in Kamloops of 215 children in the grave, and to this day, kids are still in danger in care. Some might say that this is an ongoing genocide. As an act of “reconciliation,” can you commit to the justice department to include these people in the class action settlement talks?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (36:29)
First of all, you bring up exactly the right point, James. That the ongoing removal of kids from their communities, to live with foster families, to go to other cities or towns where they lose their culture, they lose their language, they lose their identity, needs to stop. That’s why we have moved forward to codevelop legislation with indigenous peoples, called C-92, to make sure that Child and Family Services systems across the country… And this of course involves significantly provincial areas of jurisdiction, but to get kids, indigenous kids, out of the provincial system and into a system that is centered in their own culture, their own language, their own communities.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (37:33)
This is at the heart of the colonial legacy that Canada has built, whether it was residential schools or whether it is the current articulation of that with kids removed from communities, “for their own good” because they’re at risk. That’s unacceptable. And that is something that since the beginning, in 2015, we started working on. And we got to a place where we passed groundbreaking legislation to put…
Prime Minister Trudeau: (38:02)
… breaking legislation to put control over kids at risk back into indigenous communities to keep them safe, but also to keep them centered in their language and their cultures. That is the path that we have taken, and there is much more work to do. But we have made significant changes to make sure that going forward, we don’t see the kind of trauma, the kind of loss, the kind of abuse that unfortunately has been all too common in the past. And not the distant past, even the recent past of years and decades.
[inaudible 00:38:45] Prime minister, the federal government has in its possession, in its various archives, documents that were generated both by the federal government and the churches. And these are documents that indigenous led groups that are trying to help people and communities like Kamloops get to the bottom of the unmarked burials. They say those documents are key. You say it’s up to Catholics to pressure the church to release those documents. Your government has the documents and copies of many of them. Why not rescind any agreements that give the churches or the Oblates or any other group a say in their release? Why not compel disclosure?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (39:31)
I think if it is necessary, we will take stronger measures. But I think the pressure that we’ve seen by many Catholics like myself over the course of the past many days, wondering why the Catholic church in Canada is silent, is not stepping up, is not showing the leadership that quite frankly, it’s supposed to be at the core of our faith of forgiveness, of responsibility, of acknowledging truth. These are things that I am very hopeful that the Catholic church will very soon change its approach on. And if it doesn’t, as you say Tonda, we have tools that we can use because truth is at the heart of understanding our past and preventing further damage to the future. That’s why it was called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And we need to have truth before we can talk about justice, healing and reconciliation.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (40:48)
I think that having conversations and putting pressure on the church as many Catholics are doing is good. We can pressure them to admit that at the heart of faith is the idea of forgiveness. I think and I hope that we will see a much more open and accountable approach on the part of Catholic church in the coming days. Bu we do have tools that we can use if necessary although I think it would be better for everyone if we were able to do this in partnership and in the spirit of agreement.
Kevin Gallagher: (41:34)
Prime minister, Kevin Gallagher, CTV National News. I just want to follow up on Tonda’s question. So you say that the government has the tools to compel these documents, and you say, if it’s necessary, you will, well, how come now is not necessary? What are you waiting for?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (41:51)
Obviously, and I’m not going to get into the details of what tools and what processes or what documents, let me talk about the basic principles. We have committed, as a country, to revealing the truth, to sharing the truth, to allowing access to the truth first and foremost so communities can understand what happened to their loved ones and grieve them and mourn them and perhaps bring them home. These are the things that are most important for Canadians and for Canada right now. And our role in ensuring that that happens is one that we take very seriously, and we will be there to ensure that the truth is known.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (42:44)
Now, before we have to start taking the Catholic church to court, I am very hopeful that religious leaders will understand that this is something they need to participate in and not hide from. That forgiveness and redemption is a path that we all are told we should be walking on through our faith. And I’m confident that the Catholic church is hearing these calls very clearly and is understanding the kind of dismay and grief that many Canadians are feeling right now at seeing the continued lack of action.
David Akin: (43:30)
David Akin, GlobalNews. Good afternoon, prime minister. So you did a little stocktaking in your opening remarks about the TRC calls to action, drinking water advisories. I’d like to a little stock taking for this week. On Monday, you said you would directly speak to ministers, Bennett, Lametti, Vandal, Miller, and you promised concrete action. Two days later, Minister Bennett sort of opened the wicket up and said, “Come apply for money.” So is that it for the concrete action? Is there more concrete action that will be coming on the residential schools, et cetera?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (44:01)
Yes, there is much more action to come. There is much more work to be done. As I referred to on Monday, we talked about the fact that we set aside over $30 million for exactly this. Had been working with communities around ways to flow that money, but that has been accelerated significantly this week and families and communities can move forward. And let me be very, very clear that we will be there with whatever supports are necessary for communities and indigenous leadership to move forward in the way that is appropriate for their community. It’s not up to the federal government to dictate this, that, or the other thing.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (44:52)
It’s not up to international bodies to choose to come in, although they would be welcome. It is about indigenous communities having the tools that they need to move forward. It’s not up to the federal government to decide what those tools are either, but we will be there and are there, and are now engaged in direct conversations with communities that are stunned and shocked and grieving and hurting because of the recent news and want to move forward in a way that is supporting their families, their elders, their community in the right way. And we as a government will be there concretely with action and resources as they need to for moving forward.
Speaker 3: (45:45)
CBC, I’d like to ask you about the past and the present day. You’re going to be speaking to Ryerson students this afternoon. And I’m wondering if the events of the past week have made you reconsider the idea of honoring people like Egerton Ryerson, like Sir John A. Macdonald, who this building is named after, whether you think that’s still appropriate? And on the present day, after the release of your national action plan yesterday, Marion Buller, the commissioner of the MMIWG report came out and said she was disappointed and she doesn’t see why an indigenous person would trust the government on this issue. So all your words about reconciliation, why do you think it is that so many indigenous people or some indigenous people don’t trust your government or you?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (46:29)
First of all, on the Sir John A. Macdonald building that we’re in right now, on Ryerson University where I will be speaking later today, there are lots of really important conversations to have. And I think we need to have them as Canadians who grapple with a path that is not just a historical past, but a past that has impacts on the present right now. I think there are serious and mature conversations we need to have. And I can’t dictate whether it’s appropriate for this place or that place to carry this name or that name. But I think being eyes wide open about what we choose to honor and commemorate, I think we always need to know, we always need to retain awareness of the past, but awareness that is nuanced and informed and understanding. And the decisions on who we commemorate and how we commemorate them are decisions that we have to take through careful reflection and open and difficult conversations in our communities and in our society.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (47:42)
In regards to why there are indigenous leaders and communities and individuals who continue to mistrust government, I think it’s obvious why. The level to which the institutions, parliament, prime ministers have let down indigenous peoples over the past decades, generations and centuries is well documented. That’s why there’s nothing I can say that’s suddenly going to make everything all right. That’s why the work of reconciliation is hard and it involves more than just a government. It involves Canadians. It involves organizations and orders of government. It involves individual choices and collective choices. And most of all, it involves action. Action that’s going to rebuild trust step-by-step. And for every boil water advisory we end, for every school we open, for every of the hundreds of thousands of Jordan’s principle requests we grant there’s still more to do. And there’s still people who continue to be suffering the legacy of colonialism that Canada has laid forward.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (49:19)
I don’t begrudge anyone, their grief, their skepticism, their impatience, because I feel that impatience too. But the hurts and the wrongs, the intergenerational trauma, the layers of barriers and harms that continue to this day, not as part of our past, but as part of our present, require an awful lot of work by all of us. This government has been and continues to be very serious about moving forward and moving forward in a way that is in partnership and informed by the work that we’re doing together and by indigenous leadership itself. And as we move forward on the pathways that we announced yesterday and the national action plan to end the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, as we look at strengthening communities’ security, as we move to reforming the justice system, as we look to healing and mental health supports, as we look to education and all the different things that we can and must be doing together, there will be some people who continue to sit back and say, it’s not enough.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (50:55)
And that is their right. But there are others who are taking chances and stepping forward and participating and helping us make sure that we get things right. And I’m not going to begrudge anyone the choices they make, but I am going to thank those people who, despite all the hurt, despite all the trauma, despite all the mistrust, continue to believe that working together, that moving forward on these solutions is the only path, not just for reconciliation, but for Canada.
Speaker 4: (51:35)
And minister and prime minister will now have to excuse themselves to go vote.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (51:40)
No. I still got time. Go ahead.
Good afternoon Mr. Trudeau. Matt [inaudible 00:51:45], The Canadian Press. The United Nations Human Rights Office has called this morning on Canada to conduct investigations into the burial sites in Kamloops and in other locations across the country. Former senators, Murray Sinclair and the former chair of the TRC commission, he said yesterday that Canada also… There should be an investigation, but he said that government shouldn’t run investigation. How are you going grant some accountability and make sure that those who committed these human rights violations in residential schools that led to the deaths of hundreds of indigenous children are brought to account?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (52:28)
As I’ve said, we will put the families and the communities at the center of our path forward. What the government of Canada thinks is the right thing to do or wants to do is secondary in this issue. As I’ve said, we will be there to support what the communities want and need. We are open to international participation. We are open to common standards across the country. We are open to individual approaches for every single one of these communities. We are open and there to be a partner with resources and support for every community in its path for grieving, for healing and for reconciliation.
Speaker 5: (53:26)
[foreign language 00:53:26] Canada. Mr. Trudeau, is it not perhaps a little too easy to criticize the Catholic church when indigenous people across the country now are reproaching your government?
Prime Minister Trudeau: (53:41)
Answer. I think we all have our share of responsibility here when it comes to the calls to action from the TRC. We have worked on 80% of what was under our control. We managed to implement a lot of the may calls to action, but some of them are longer term projects. One of those calls to actions was for the Catholic church, the Vatican, to apologize. Well, it’s not up to the federal government to do that. We did our part by asking the pope to apologize but we all have work to do. And we can’t just say, “It’s not my responsibility the church has to do it themselves.” That’s not what I said. We all have work to do and we have done work as government. Whether it’s the new legislation to protect indigenous languages, putting indigenous communities in charge of their at risk children.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (55:00)
Whether it’s lifting more than 100 boil water advisories or building hundreds of new schools for indigenous children across the country. We are here to work with indigenous communities. We recognize that there is much to do but we are not the only ones who have to do this. There are organizations like churches and other stakeholders who a have role to play as well. And Canadians have a role to play too. In our daily lives we all have opportunities to learn more about Canada’s history and to see the ramifications of that history in our life today. Each and every one of us can learn about this and take responsibility so that we can finally put this colonial tragedy behind us.
Speaker 4: (55:58)
So I believe the prime minister and the minister have to vote now. The minister will return after she votes, but we’ll go back to the phone as soon as the prime minister leaves for questions for the doctors and Brigadier General Brodie. Operator over to you.
Thank you. [inaudible 00:56:28] still press star one if you have a question. [foreign language 00:56:40]. For the questions on the phone lines [foreign language 00:56:43]
David Akin: (56:45)
Okay. David Akin, GlobalNews, in the room. I think this question is for Dr. Tam. Dr. Tam, and this is coming from my colleague, Abigail Bimman, who’s asking is there enough sequencing being done to find the Delta variant? And I wonder if you can speak to why an increase in that variant here in Canada-
… to why an increase in that variant here in Canada makes getting a second dose sooner, rather than later, more important.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (57:08)
Thank you for the question. So Canada, as a country, does a lot more sequencing than many. Especially as the number of cases are coming down, the province is, in fact, moving towards sequencing a vast majority of the positive cases. And so that is actually happening. So in discussions with my provincial territorial colleagues and our laboratory partners, obviously monitoring all variants of concern are very important. The Delta variant of B1617 has been detected essentially across Canada. It is important then to characterize the exact distribution and the trends as well. It is a variant that has demonstrated, there’s now increasing evidence to show that it is more transmissible and maybe more transmissible, in fact, than the alpha variant, that B117 variant. So that is obviously a characteristic of concern, which means that in under vaccinated populations, or if we let go of public health measures and relax some of these, in the context of a transmissible variant, that variant could well take off and we place other viruses in the communities. So that might be something, for example, that’s happening in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (58:53)
Secondly, this variant is important at this time because there is some evidence, although not a large amount of evidence, but some, both from a laboratory perspective, but also some real life data coming out of the United Kingdom, to suggest that one dose of vaccines provides some protection, but not quite as good as two doses. So two doses of vaccine perform very well. Both the Pfizer vaccine performed very well. And there’s also a protection afforded by two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine as well. This is why it’s important to remind everybody to get the second dose. As supplies increase, provinces, you probably heard their announcements just in recent days to get the second doses started in many of the populations. Some of the initial high risk groups have already started having the second dose, but you will see provinces announcing second doses for seniors and more higher risk populations, and those who’ve had the initial dose early. And you’ll probably see that interval come down. Some jurisdictions have announced intervals of about eight weeks. And so it is very important to get that second dose when variants such as the Delta variant is in our community.
Kevin Gallagher: (01:00:32)
Kevin Gallagher, CTV National News. My questions for Dr. Tam. So I’d like you to comment a bit about this US study with the 17 aged boys in the United States experiencing heart inflammation within days of getting the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. What should Canadians take away from this development?
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:00:53)
Yes. So you’re talking about some studies and observation from a number of countries, including the United States and also Israel. So what has been observed? A small number of cases of individuals who are quite young, adolescents and young adults, who’ve received a second dose, primarily, after two doses of the MRA vaccine, mainly the Pfizer vaccine, and they develop inflammation of the heart muscle and the covering of the heart several days after vaccination, and more often in males compared to females. In general, they are relatively mild illnesses. Some have been hospitalized, but with a short stay, and they are being monitored, of course, for a longer period to see how they recover. But in general, their symptoms appear to improve quickly.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:01:54)
So a number of important actions are being done at the moment. One is, of course, to actually try and determine if these events following the vaccine is indeed linked to the vaccine. So those studies are ongoing, but I do think that this is a signal that we need to be taking seriously. In the Canadian context, of course, not many younger individuals have been vaccinated today, and certainly not many with two doses. So as we closely monitor the situation, we only found a small number of reports of pericarditis or myocarditis, that’s the inflammatory response, after vaccination in Canada. We currently do not see any higher rates than would be expected in the general population, but it is somewhat something that we need to continuously monitor.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:02:53)
In the United States, they have considered their observations and at this point continuing to recommend this vaccine for the younger individuals and following the usual schedule. But I think it is something that we have to continuously monitor. And I think for individuals who are getting vaccinated, there are some symptoms that they should be aware of, so that if you do develop some acute chest pain, feeling short of breath, your heart rate feels irregular, you need to get yourself checked out. It is something that can be managed and treated. And as I said, the majority of those reported have essentially improved quite rapidly following the initial presentation.
Kevin Gallagher: (01:03:46)
Just a follow up, Dr. Tam, what metrics are you looking at? I know that you don’t want to get too political, but obviously here in Ottawa, we’ve been told that no one wants an election until the end of the pandemic. What are you looking at to determine what the end of the pandemic looks like for Canada? Are you looking at vaccination rates, hospitalizations? Does Canada need to wait for the World Health Organization to declare the global pandemic over till we really know that we’re past this crisis? What metrics are you looking at right now that would help you determine and advise the political leaders of this country when they can say the pandemic’s over?
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:04:31)
Well, a pandemic is a global phenomenon, and Canada alone cannot determine that. So we might hear from the WHO, for example. But then our domestic context, we know that while Canada has had an escalation in our vaccinations, many countries haven’t got there as yet. And the coronavirus is not going to disappear anytime soon. It’s in every country and every corner of the world. So until the world is vaccinated, I think the virus is not going to disappear anytime soon. But what we’re looking for, and certainly what I have been communicating, is that we’re looking towards a time when we’re past what I call the crisis phase of the pandemic, when we have to repeatedly escalate our public health response as a result of massive surges in virus activity.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:05:48)
So I think the parameters or the indicators that we’re watching, I think quite familiar to everyone, one is, of course, the activity of the virus and the number of cases, the rates, the trajectory of whether they’re increasing or decreasing, escalating, the steepness of the increase, the size of the curve, but also the impact on hospitalizations, ICU admissions. And of course, death is a more longer term indicator.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:06:25)
So I do think that this is still at a time of caution. We are monitoring vaccination rates as well as one indicator. We’ve suggested that, through modeling, if we have 75% of the population getting their first dose and 20% getting second dose, you can begin to lift those measures without overwhelming your health system. And of course, getting two doses into everyone means that we’re having a safer fall. And what I mean by that is that I am looking to a fall where we don’t have to keep going back to those very restrictive public health measures and that our health system can cope, so that we get back into the fall and winter time not having these crises going on all the time. But there will be continuing, I think, outbreaks, upon which we have to act very quickly to respond to. And those outbreaks, I believe will tend to occur and under vaccinated pockets of the community. And of course, if there are more variants that are transmissible, that is most of the illness that will impact us.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:07:44)
But certainly, vaccines are playing a major role if we look at countries have been a little bit ahead of us and that we can look towards getting back to some of the activities that we are looking forward to. So those are some of the key indicators. We did publish some indicators for how to ease opening our social economic spaces. But equally speaking, if those indicators go another direction, we have to, again, act very quickly. But the bottom line is two doses of vaccine is going to get us quite far ahead. I have to say that 75% two doses is a goal based on the level of vaccination so that we don’t overwhelm our health system, but we can do better than that. I actually think we should keep going. This isn’t a threshold or a limit. We’ve seen some communities getting over 80%, some seniors getting over 90% of vaccine coverage. And so we should shoot for the stars basically.
And we’ll go back to the phone for one final question. Operator?
Thank you, Messi. The next question is from Dylan Robertson from the Winnipeg Free Press. Please go ahead.
Dylan Robertson: (01:09:12)
Hi, there. A question for Brigadier General Krista Brodie. I’m wondering about expired doses. Provinces keep turning their backs on AstraZeneca. So I’m wondering what the plan is to avoid doses from expiring and if they’re going to send these to COVAX, and how many have actually fired so far.
Brigadier General Krista Brodie: (01:09:35)
So we’re working very closely with the provinces to ensure that we use as many doses as possible to support their immunization campaigns for AstraZeneca. The two lots that were due to expire on the 31st of May have been extended. They’ve been extended to the 1st of July. So those doses are still in the jurisdictions and can be used to support the provinces as they roll out their second dose strategy for those who received AstraZeneca as their first doses. We continue to monitor very closely what the requirements are and to match our supply with the demand that’s being signaled by the provinces so that we don’t waste doses or so that we minimize the wastage as much as possible.
And a follow up, Dylan?
Dylan Robertson: (01:10:29)
Thanks. My followup is about the CDC reporting that Brigadier General Simone [inaudible 01:10:35] has been taken off the vaccine task force, the rollout from an alleged racist comment. They’re alleging of the use the N word at work. I just want us to ask Brigadier General Krista Brodie what it says that we have another soldier taken off the vaccine task force, and also Dr. Tam, what you make of this as you’ve talked about racism.
Brigadier General Krista Brodie: (01:10:59)
So I’m not in a position to speak to the alleged allegations pertaining to a Brigadier General [inaudible 01:11:07]. What I can indicate is that we are very focused on the team here at the Public Health Agency to ensure that we distribute vaccines as quickly, as safely, as efficiently as we can, in a manner that’s fair and equitable to all. Thank you.
Dr. Theresa Tam: (01:11:22)
Yes. Thank you for the question, and thank you, Brigadier General Brodie. Thanks to the support from the Canadian Armed Forces, we’re confident that work will just continue and vaccines will be delivered and the work with the provinces continuing. So we’re not concerned about that capacity. At the same time, of course, I know actually nothing about the specific incident, but we have to promote safe workplaces, respectful workplaces. There is no place, of course, for racism and stigma and discrimination in a workplace or in our society. It shouldn’t be tolerated. So I think throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen people coming together to collaborate. And I think that, of course, we need to continue to focus on our strengths and embrace the diversity in our population. And racism is in many different systems, whether it’s the health system or other systems of society, and we, of course, all need to do better. Thank you.
Thank you, and that concludes today’s press conference.