May 19, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 19: Border Closure with US Extended
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Tuesday, May 19 coronavirus press conference for Canada. Trudeau announced that the United States and Canada are extending their border closure another 30 days.
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Justin Trudeau: (15:49)
Let me begin this morning by confirming that Canada and the United States have once again, agreed to extend, by 30 days, the current measures in place along the border. This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe.
Justin Trudeau: (16:05)
[foreign language 00:03:06].
Justin Trudeau: (16:23)
I also want to address the tragic RCAF plane crash in Kamloops over the weekend. My thoughts and the thoughts of all Canadians are with the families of Captain Casey, Captain MacDougall, and the entire Snowbirds team. This has been a very difficult few weeks for members of the Canadian Armed Forces. As we mourn, we remember Captain Casey as a proud Nova Scotian and an outstanding service woman. A journalist who turned her talents to the forces. She will be remembered not just for her professionalism, but for her sense of humor and for her kindness. As we honor her, we pay tribute to the bravery of all those who serve today. Our women and men in uniform are always there for us, serving overseas to defend the values we hold dear, working here at home to care for our seniors and lift our spirits with flyovers. So, to everyone who is so proudly wears the maple leaf, thank you. You do your country proud today and every day.
Justin Trudeau: (17:32)
[foreign language 00:04:34]. As we start to carefully and gradually reopen our economy, a lot of people will be wondering what that means for them. If you’ve been laid off, you’re probably waiting to see whether your employer will start up your workplace and rehire you. To help them do that, we’ve extended the wage subsidy through the summer. This is about getting people back to work and giving businesses the confidence to reopen, rehire and even grow. Because the way our economy will recover and the way our country will remain resilient and successful is by getting Canadians back to work. Many business owners are already benefiting from this program to rehire and maintain the crucial link between workplace and employee. To employers looking to start up again, please rehire your workers, use the wage subsidy for their paycheck. That’s what it’s there for. For businesses that still need help, today, we’re taking another step forward.
Justin Trudeau: (19:11)
Today, I can announce that we are expanding the eligibility of the Canada Emergency Business Account. If you are the sole owner operator of a business, if your business relies on contractors, or if you have a family owned business and you pay employees through dividends, you will now qualify. For example, for a hair salon owner with stylists who rent chairs, for a local physiotherapist, for an independent gym owner with contracted trainers. This is for you. We’ll have more details very soon about when you’ll be able to apply. We heard you when you said you needed a hand. That’s why Minister Ng is also working on potential solutions to help business owners and entrepreneurs who operate through their personal bank account, as opposed to a business account or have yet to file a tax returns such as newly created businesses. As we announced last week, there’s new funding for regional development agencies too, which you can always contact if you still don’t meet these expanded criteria.
Justin Trudeau: (20:21)
Businesses like yours are the backbone of our economy and the life blood of our communities. Whether it’s with the CIBA or the expanded wage subsidy, we’re in your corner.
Justin Trudeau: (20:35)
[foreign language 00: 07:36].
Justin Trudeau: (22:57)
I want to end this morning with some good news, something we haven’t had enough of lately. As of today, Canada now has its first university in the North. Yukon College is becoming the new Yukon University. As a cornerstone for this step, our government has already provided $26 million for a new science building. To everyone who helped make this milestone happen, congratulations. Not just for students, but for all of us. This is truly something to celebrate. Young people have the power to change our country for the better, and t’s up to us to make sure that no matter where they live, they have the tools to chase their dreams and succeed. Today, more than ever, we need their vision and their creativity, because that is our path forward. [foreign language 00:23:54].
Speaker 5: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:23:56].
Speaker 6: (23:52)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:24:02].
Speaker 7: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:24:08].
Justin Trudeau: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:24:26].
Speaker 5: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:24:58].
Speaker 8: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:25:00].
Justin Trudeau: (23:52)
[foreign language 00:25:13].
Justin Trudeau: (26:00)
Speaker 9: (26:30)
Thank you, operator. Next question.
Thank you, [French 00:26:35]. Next question Kate Balengareau, Bloomberg. Line open.
Kate B.: (26:40)
Hi Prime Minister. So on this news regarding the border extension, I am wondering when exactly will Canada open its international borders? And do you foresee that there will be further extensions to this border closure beyond June 21st?
Justin Trudeau: (26:55)
As we’ve seen the decisions that we’re taking are very much made week to week in this crisis. The situation is changing rapidly and we’re adjusting constantly to what is the right measures for Canadians to get that balance right, between keeping people safe and restoring a semblance of normality and economic activity that we all rely on. We’re going to keep making those decisions as time goes on. It was the right thing to further extend by 30 days our closure of the Canada-US border to travelers other than essential services and goods. But we will continue to watch carefully what’s happening elsewhere in the world and around us, as we make decisions on next steps.
Justin Trudeau: (27:44)
Speaker 9: (28:07)
Ask a follow up, Kate.
Kate B.: (28:26)
Just a quick question regarding the Leaf programs. So it seems that it’s been delayed now that we’re leaving mid-May when it was supposed to be open. So I’m wondering when will this rental subsidy program be unveiled and what’s the holdup?
Justin Trudeau: (28:38)
We were pleased to announce a large employers emergency financing facility a number of days ago. Now we’re continuing to work with industry with various partners to fine tune the program. So it’s the right thing. It is designed to be a lender of last resort for many big employers. We know that big companies have greater access to capital than small businesses, which is why we help small businesses right away, and very generously. But large companies can access borrowed capital on capital markets around the world. And we hope they’re going to be able to do that. But if they are unable to, the Leaf will be there to offer them support, to lend them money to get through this COVID situation. We’re continuing to work with them on making sure that it rolls out as quickly as possible.
Speaker 9: (29:31)
Thank you, operator. Next question.
Thank you, [French 00:03:35]. Next question, Marieke Walsh, the Globe and Mail. Line open.
Marieke Walsh: (29:41)
Hi Prime Minister, thank you. I’m wondering if you can tell us what your approach is going to be on Keystone XL. What, if anything, can you do if the Democratic candidate is going to cancel the project?
Justin Trudeau: (29:57)
A couple of years before becoming Prime Minister, I went down to Washington to advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline. It has been a long position of mine that we need to get our resources to new markets, safely and securely. And that’s why I’ve always advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline. We saw the previous Democratic administration cancel it. And we will continue to work with whatever government gets elected in the United States to impress upon them how important Canada is as a secure and reliable supply of energy that they require even as we move forward to a different future. Okay.
Justin Trudeau: (30:41)
Speaker 9: (31:24)
Ask a follow up, Marieke.
Marieke Walsh: (31:26)
Yeah, so my question was though what you will do going forward. But I do want to tip it to parliament. Andrew Scheer is calling for more in person sittings. What is your position on how or what parliament should return?
Justin Trudeau: (31:41)
I think as, as with everything, we need to be cautious and responsible and how we reopen and restart all sectors of the Canadian economy. We understand that it is extremely important to have a strong democracy and strong institutions, not in spite of the crisis, but because of the crisis. And that’s why we’ve been very pleased with extremely effective virtual sittings combined with in-person sittings over the past weeks that have allowed MPs from every corner of the country to participate fully in asking questions in the work that Parliament is doing.
Justin Trudeau: (32:20)
My concern is that as we reopen, if we reopened with reduced numbers without virtual sittings, there will be many, many MPs from further parts of the country who will be unable or unwilling to come to Ottawa because of their family’s safety. And therefore there will be parts of the country that won’t be reflected in our democratic institutions.
Justin Trudeau: (32:44)
We’ve put forward proposals that combined both virtual sittings and in-person sittings to continue the approach we have right now. We look to good conversations with other parties on figuring out that right balance as we move forward safely in upholding the importance of our democracy.
Speaker 9: (33:03)
Thank you, operator. [French 00:33:06].
Thank you, [French 00:33:08].
Speaker 10: (33:04)
Justin Trudeau: (33:04)
Speaker 9: (33:04)
Speaker 10: (33:04)
Justin Trudeau: (34:31)
Tom Perry: (34:37)
Hi Prime Minister, Tom Perry, CBC. As provinces start to reopen testing and tracings going to become more important. And now we understand that that came up in your call with First Ministers. What have you offered the provinces and territories in terms of support on that? And what more can you do?
Justin Trudeau: (34:52)
The federal government has put forward a proposal that recognizes that increased contact tracing and increased testing are going to be key to a reopened Canadian economy. We need to make sure right across the country that we have a strong capacity to respond wherever there might be a resurgence or a flare up of COVID-19. And that means having significant resources at the availability of all regions and provinces.
Justin Trudeau: (35:24)
So the federal government has offered to invest in a national framework to lead the way on testing and contact tracing. We are working with the provinces right now to ensure that it works for all of them, but we’re going to be moving forward on ramping up massively our testing and our contact tracing.
Justin Trudeau: (35:46)
Tom Perry: (36:30)
And on the border. When things do start reopening, what kind of infrastructure do you want to see in terms of testing in terms of tracing? I guess, other things as well. What’s it going to look like when we start allowing non-essential travel across the Canada-US border?
Justin Trudeau: (36:43)
These are ongoing questions we’ve given ourselves another month before we have to have the right answers to those questions on non-essential travel. But even now we know that we need to do more to ensure that travelers who are coming back from overseas or from the United States, as Canadians, are properly followed up on, are properly isolated, and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19. We’re working closely with the provinces to ensure that arrival of people into Canada, even now, but certainly once, once we get to a point where non-essential travel picks up again in the coming months, I guess, we need to have strong measures in place. And we’re looking at those closely.
Speaker 11: (37:31)
[ French 00:00:37:31].
Justin Trudeau: (37:32)
Justin Trudeau: (39:00)
Speaker 12: (39:05)
In English please.
Justin Trudeau: (39:14)
The UN Security Council seat is a means for Canada to continue its strong advocacy, and presence for our values on the world’s [inaudible 00:00:23]. We know that there is a lot of reflection that needs to be had on how to handle this COVID- 19 crisis, and how to bring forward a better world in the coming years. I think when we reflect on the scale of this crisis, many people have compared it to what happened 75 years ago around World War II. Well, in the years following World War II, we created a range of multilateral, and multinational institutions like the IMF, like the World Bank, the Bretton Woods institutions that helped the world over the following decades develop tremendous prosperity and opportunity for people right around the world.
Justin Trudeau: (40:05)
70, 75 years later, we have another crisis that is comparable in scale to that 2nd World War, and I think there need to be real reflections on how we move forward as a world, how we update, and adjust our various multilateral institutions to better respond to the world we’re becoming part of right now in a post COVID era. Canada’s voice is going to be really important as it was around the forming of the Bretton Woods institutions, as it will be as we create a better, more prosperous, fairer world for everyone, and Canada having a voice at the UN Security Council will allow us to continue to be at the heart of those discussions as we move forward as a planet.
Speaker 13: (40:46)
Justin Trudeau: (43:07)
[French 00: 02:10].
Kevin Gallagher: (43:13)
Morning Prime Minister, Kevin Gallagher, CTV National News. President Donald Trump is threatening to pull American funding from the World Health Organization, and reconsidering his country’s membership in the UN agencies. Now, some European countries have come to the support the WHO, where does Canada stand?
Justin Trudeau: (43:34)
Canada believes that multilateral institutions like the WHO are extremely important, particularly, at a time of a global health crisis like this one. No global institution is perfect, and there are obviously things we need to work on, and things we need to approve about multilateralism, and that’s one of the reasons why Canada has been so incredibly active over these past weeks and months, including in this crisis to advocate for a rethinking, and improvement of our global situations, and our global institutions in line with our values. We will continue to do that, we will continue to support the WHO, even as we look for improvements to our multilateral systems.
Kevin Gallagher: (44:19)
China has actually placed two billion for the WHO, and obviously, leading up to this, the organization has faced criticism for its handling of misinformation at the beginning of this outbreak coming out of China. Are there any concerns for you that there’s such a large influence in the term of funding commitment from China to the WHO?
Justin Trudeau: (44:43)
I think there are always going to be reflections about the relationships between the largest donors to multilateral institutions, and the functioning of those multilateral institutions. I think as we move through this crisis, and particularly, come out of it, we will have to be asking questions about the independence, and the strength of those organizations to be able to do the kinds of things that are absolutely necessary in keeping everyone around the world safe. That balance does need to be looked at carefully. There will be some real questions around China, of course, in the coming months and years that need to be answered, and we will be part of that.
Janet Silver: (45:24)
Prime Minister, Janet Silver, Global News. Earlier in your opening remarks, you commented on the Snowbird crash over the weekend, and I’m just wondering, have you since spoken to Captain Casey’s family? Have they expressed concerns about the Snowbird’s flying, and whether or not you think they should be grounded?
Justin Trudeau: (45:41)
I have had a couple of conversations over the past couple of days with the minister of defense, and I know he and others are very closely engaged with the families, and I will, of course, be speaking to the family of Captain Casey, and others. I think there are very good questions being asked by a whole lot of people about safety right now. First and foremost, by the, RCAF, and there is going to be a proper investigation, and we’re going to allow them to do their work before we make assumptions about what might be the outcome of that investigation. [French 00:07:20].
Janet Silver: (46:48)
I just want to turn south of the border. President Trump says he’s been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half now, and he says it’s a good preventative approach to getting COVID-19. I just want to get your thoughts on whether or not you think it is a good preventative approach.
Justin Trudeau: (47:04)
I will continue to follow advice of medical professionals, and implore every Canadian to follow the best advice of our medical health experts.
Speaker 14: (47:14)
Justin Trudeau: (47:14)