May 20, 2020

Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 20

Trudeau Press Conference
RevBlogTranscriptsCanada COVID-19 Briefing TranscriptsJustin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 20

Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Wednesday, May 20 coronavirus press conference for Canada. He announced a national directive on wearing face masks.


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Justin Trudeau: (00:10)
[foreign language 00:00:11] .

Justin Trudeau: (00:11)
Over the last two months, Canadians have stepped up to keep each other safe. And because of those actions and those choices in many parts of the country, we’re getting this virus under control. Now, that doesn’t mean we can let down our guard, for what our progress does mean is that where it’s safe to do so, we can gradually and carefully restart some of our activities. For many small business owners and their workers, being able to reopen is welcome news. Of course, this is not without its challenges. People need help getting back on their feet. That’s why we brought in new targeted support to get businesses going again. Use the Canada emergency wage subsidy to rehire your workers. Access a loan through the Canada emergency business account to adapt to new realities, and contact your regional development agency, where we’ve boosted funding, if you don’t qualify for other supports. Thousands of business owners have already navigated the process and are getting the help they need.

Justin Trudeau: (01:16)
And if you’re not one of them yet, we’re making it simpler to find out what’s available. Go to the COVID-19 page at You’ll find a section that lays out all the programs based on what your need is from rehiring staff to accessing credit. Your business matters to your employees and to our country. In fact, it matters to our whole economy. So a concern for you is a concern for us too. And that brings me to the question of your rent. Paying rent on your space might be a problem right now. We hear that. So we’re taking action. We’re creating the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program. This benefit will provide forgivable loans to landlords so that they can reduce by 75% the rent for small business tenants that have lost the majority of their revenue because of COVID-19. If you’re a landlord and you and your tenant are eligible, please apply.

Justin Trudeau: (02:26)
Go to to get the details on what information you’ll need when the application portal opens starting May 25th. Once this launches you’ll receive your relief quickly. Our government, along with the provinces and territories, will cover 50% of the rent. We’re asking that landlords absorb 25% and tenants pay the rest with the support of programs like the SEBA. For larger retailers, we’re also working on a new support and will have more details to share soon.

Justin Trudeau: (03:02)
These are challenging times, but together we can protect jobs and make sure that our economy bounces back. And that will be good for everyone.

Justin Trudeau: (03:12)
[foreign language 00: 03:14] . Whether you work at the restaurant around the corner or at an office downtown, your job is how you support yourself and your family. And no matter what you do, no matter how many other people your workplace employees, we need to protect that. In addition to our support for small businesses, we’ve also brought in help for companies of every size. Last week, we launched the large employer emergency financing facility to provide bridge loans for the country’s largest employers. As of today, applications for this financing are open. These loans will be delivered through the Canada development investment corporation in cooperation with Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, and the department of finance. Our priority is that this program be fair and effective. Loans will be designed with a clear goal, protecting jobs and helping our economy rebound. Businesses can go online to see for more information on the application process. But I want to be clear. We are not offering companies a bailout. We are making loans available so that they can weather this storm and continue to employ millions of hardworking Canadians.

Justin Trudeau: (05:54)
[foreign language 00:05: 55]

Justin Trudeau: (06:56)
No matter who you are or where you live, we’re here to support you. So I want to end this morning by reminding parents that when you receive your child Canada child benefit payment, today, it will include an extra $300 per child. This is money to help you through this very tough time.

Justin Trudeau: (07:19)
[foreign language 00: 07:34] .

Operator: (08:08)
Thank you, Prime Minister. We’ll now go to the phone for questions. One question, one follow up. Operator?

Operator: (08:16)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:08:21] . Star one for questions. [foreign language 00:08:20].

Speaker 1: (09:03)
[ foreign language 00:08:26].

Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
[foreign language 00:09:02]

Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
[foreign language 00:09:01].

Speaker 2: (09:03)
[foreign language 00:10:20].

Justin Trudeau: (10:12)
[foreign language 00:01:20].

Justin Trudeau: (10:21)
I think the important thing that we have seen over these past weeks is that our parliament continues to function. We’ve been meeting three times a week, twice virtually, once in person, to ensure that MPs from right across the country continue to be able to share the concerns of their constituents, ask questions of the government and its programs, and also highlight solutions that will help Canadians as we move forward. And from the beginning, we’ve had tremendous input from all parties that has helped us make sure we’re getting it right to help millions of Canadians right across the country in this moment of crisis.

Justin Trudeau: (10:59)
We want to make sure that we are functioning as an effective parliament during this time, not in spite of the crisis, but because of the crisis. And that’s why we’re working right now with other parties in the House to try and figure out what the best way for us to move forward, to continue our democratic processes, to continue to have a strong functioning Parliament and democracy while at the same time, ensuring that we’re keeping everyone safe.

Speaker 3: (11:40)
[ foreign language 00:11:26].

Speaker 2: (11:40)
[foreign language 00:11:38].

Justin Trudeau: (11:40)
[foreign language 00:11:41].

Speaker 2: (11:40)
[foreign language 00:11:45].

Justin Trudeau: (11:40)
[crosstalk 00:12:12].

Speaker 3: (12:40)
[foreign language 00: 03:44].

Operator: (12:48)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:12:48]. Next question. Jamie Pashagumskum, APTN. Line open.

Jamie Pashagumskum: (12:57)
Hi. Morning, Mr. Prime Minister. Sorry, I’m just having a problem with my phone here. So with provinces and economies opening up, First Nations communities are remaining closed. Now, do you support these extra measures even though they create tensions with nearby jurisdictions?

Justin Trudeau: (13:23)
From the very beginning, our focus has been on keeping Canadians safe, with particular emphasis on people who are more vulnerable. And we’ve seen that because of challenges around health delivery, existing challenges and inequalities, Indigenous communities across the country are at a greater vulnerability to COVID-19 than others. That’s why we put in place measures early on to help these communities protect themselves and be supported in this pandemic time. We know that as economies start to reopen, as activity picks up across the country, we’re going to have to make, and local jurisdictions will have to make, very careful decisions about how and where to reopen. And we need to make sure that every step of the way people are working with all local stakeholders, including and specifically Indigenous communities and leadership to ensure that we’re not bringing in greater risks. As much as we want the economy to reopen and things to get back to normal, we need to put the safety and security of all Canadians at the forefront of everything we do.

Speaker 3: (14:32)
And a followup, Jamie?

Jamie Pashagumskum: (14:35)
Thank you. And as a followup, just on a different note, this pertains more to federal than provincial prisons, but in terms of early release programs, getting inmates with a history of respiratory illnesses out of jails, now with the relaxing of restrictions, is that not a priority anymore? And I was wondering, Minister Blair be at the Committee update today, or when will he be there?

Justin Trudeau: (15:00)
We’ve continued to look very closely at how we can ensure that federal institutions like our correctional facilities are kept safe. We are looking at various measures and have brought in a number of measures to keep both inmates and staff at those facilities safe. We continue to adjust as time goes on and as things become more necessary or less necessary we will stay active on a daily basis.

Speaker 3: (15:28)
Thank you. Next question, operator.

Operator: (15:31)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:06:32]. Next question. Kristy Kirkup, The Globe and Mail. Line open.

Kristy Kirkup: (15:39)
Good morning, Prime Minister. You’ve addressed the issue of increased economic activity today. Spain has made the mandatory wearing of masks except for children. Is the mandatory wearing of masks being considered by Canada’s Committee of Chief Public Health Officers from across the country.

Justin Trudeau: (15:58)
I know public health authorities are continually looking at the research and looking at the best way for Canadians to protect themselves. I believe they will have further recommendations on masks in the coming hours. The reality is the best thing for people to do is to remain socially distanced, to keep two meters apart, to stay at home wherever possible, and to wash your hands regularly and frequently. But in situations where you cannot physically distance to two meters, people are encouraged to wear masks and I will allow public health authorities to make that announcement a little later today. Okay. [foreign language 00:07:40].

Speaker 3: (17:08)
Followup, Kristy.

Operator: (17:10)
Thank you. Just as a followup, Prime Minister, you have been seen wearing a mask, including in your office, for example. Can you just paint a picture for Canadians about your personal approach to mask wearing? When are you wearing a mask? How were you wearing a mask?

Justin Trudeau: (17:27)
Obviously, everyone’s situation will be different and we always need to pay attention to public health authorities. When it is possible for me to keep two meters distance from people, that is what I prefer to do. In situations where I’m either walking through the halls of Parliament or going to my office and coming in proximity to people, I’ve chosen to start wearing a mask. I will be wearing a mask as I go into Parliament this afternoon for our in-person sitting. Once I am at my desk in Parliament and two meters separate from everyone else, I will take off my mask so I can-

Justin Trudeau: (18:03)
… can engage in parliamentary discourse, but as soon as I leave my seat and walk past people and walk through potentially busier hallways I will be wearing a mask. That’s my personal choice, that is aligned, I think, with what public health is recommending. I think we all need to adjust to what works in our circumstance and keep safety at the forefront of what we’re doing.

Speaker 4: (18:34)
[foreign language 00:18:34]. Operator.

Speaker 5: (18:36)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:19:33].

Speaker 6: (19:41)
[foreign language 00:19:41].

Justin Trudeau: (20:08)
[foreign language 00:20:08].

Speaker 4: (21:02)
[foreign language 00:21:02].

Speaker 6: (21:04)
[foreign language 00:21:04].

Justin Trudeau: (21:24)
[foreign language 00:21:24].

Speaker 7: (22:02)
[foreign language 00:22:02].

Justin Trudeau: (22:24)
[foreign language 00:22:24].

Speaker 4: (23:26)
[foreign language 00:23:26].

Justin Trudeau: (23:27)
Yeah. I think there’s a lot of interest in a hybrid Parliament model where some people will be there in person while others will call in via video conferencing screens. I think there are ways of making it work and ensuring that MP’s from every corner of the country get to participate and make their citizens are reflected in the debates that go in Parliament and not just those who live near the national capital region. Obviously these ar discussions that continue, but there are models that are effective out there that we should look at adapting for Canadian use. And in regards to where are economy is going, our government has been open and transparent about all the various measures we’re putting forward. It is still very difficult to predict where our economy might be six months from now or even three months from now, but we will continue to work on sharing with Canadians a picture of what the future could look like.

Speaker 7: (24:29)
[foreign language 00:24:29].

Justin Trudeau: (24:35)
[foreign language 00:24:35].

Tom Parry: (25:23)
In English please.

Justin Trudeau: (25:24)
I think it’s extremely important that we continue to have leader level summits. We had G7 leaders virtual meeting a few weeks ago where we talked about this important situation we’re in and we’re going to need to keep talking about not just how we get through this COVID-19 pandemic, but how we restore the global economy to its rightful activities. So, yes we need to keep meeting as leaders. Whether that’s virtual in person we’ll certainly take a look at what the U.S. is proposing as host of the G7 to see what kind of measures will be in place to keep people safe, what kind of recommendations the experts are giving in terms of how that might function. There are lots of discussions to come, but we look forward to having those discussions with the American hosts.

Tom Parry: (26:17)
Hi prime minister, Tom Parry, CBC. You’re asking landlords to take part in this program that you’re bringing in. We’ve heard reports though of some landlords who aren’t taking part, refusing to take part. Doug Ford was very forceful on this yesterday. I’m wondering, are you having conversations with the premiers about putting more pressure on landlords to try to get them to take part in this program?

Justin Trudeau: (26:37)
I think we all understand that this is a crisis that is hitting really hard on business right across the country, and we know that if our economy is to come back we need a large number of those businesses to hold on and to make it through this pandemic. That’s why we are providing commercial rent assistance to landlords and tenants. And we really hope that they will take up on it.

Justin Trudeau: (27:03)
We know that if many businesses aren’t able to make ends meet and do go under at this point, it’ll be a lot slower to pick up the economy and that’ll be bad for Canadians, but it’ll also be bad for landlords. It’ll also be bad for building owners who will see a slower regaining of economic activity, and indeed, with many people discovering that we can work from home, to a much greater degree, there may be a lot of vacancies in commercial buildings over the coming months and years.

Justin Trudeau: (27:38)
Who knows exactly what the post-pandemic world will look like exactly? And that’s why making sure we’re supporting the businesses we have now to be able to stay in their spaces as we slowly restore our economy is going to be important, and we certainly expect landlords to be part of this solution. [ foreign language 00:00:59]

Speaker 9: (28:51)
And police say they’ve made more than 2,000 home visits for people coming back into Canada, making sure that they’re complying with the self-isolation rules. You were talking yesterday about bringing in more measures when non-essential travel is allowed. Other countries have brought in monitoring devices for people coming into the country. Is that something you’d look at, or do you want to look at other options first? Where do you stand on that?

Justin Trudeau: (29:14)
I think we know that a key part of reopening and keeping our economy going and controlling future spreads of COVID-19 will involve being very, very careful that we’re not importing new cases. Even as our economies open up, even as border restrictions are potentially loosened down the road.

Justin Trudeau: (29:34)
We need to make sure that we have the measures in place to be able to ensure that new cases aren’t arriving and spreading through the general population. We’re in discussion with the provinces and territories to ensure that we do have the capacities to do that as we look towards economic reopening. Those conversations are ongoing

Janet Silver: (29:54)
Prime Minister, Janet Silver, Global News. You spoke just a moment ago about a rent relief landlords. Why not give that relief directly to the tenants? Why not just bypass the landlords if they’re reluctant to start using it?

Justin Trudeau: (30:10)
We know that the solution involves bringing different communities and groups together. The landlords need to be a part of the solution on this. We need them to understand that they do have a deep vested interest in keeping their renters in those spaces, that if more businesses go under because of COVID-19, we’re all going to be worse off.

Justin Trudeau: (30:33)
And that’s why this approach, in concert with the provinces, is going to be the right approach to do it, and we implore and expect landlords and building owners to understand that we all are in this together. We need to be there for each other, and this program is there to help them and to help small businesses.

Janet Silver: (30:54)
And as provinces reopen and parents are expected to go back to work, childcare is an issue. I know that is a provincial matter, but I’m just wondering what discussions you may be having with provinces in terms of childcare to help out those parents. And are you concerned about the lack of childcare in this country and what impact that may have in terms of reopening the economy?

Justin Trudeau: (31:16)
As a party, we’ve long been concerned about the lack of childcare spaces across this country. We know it’s a challenge in the best of times for families to find that balance between care for their kids and the jobs they need to support their families. That’s why when we formed government in 2015, we moved forward with historic investments in childcare agreements with the provinces to increase the accessibility of childcare.

Justin Trudeau: (31:44)
In our last platform, getting reelected, we made more commitments on childcare of working with the provinces to invest in programs that will help more parents, more families, and grow our economies and our communities. We need to continue to do that, particularly right now, and we will be there to work with the provinces as we reopen and respond to childcare needs.

Molly Thomas: (32:08)
Hi, prime minister, Molly Thomas, UTB National News. While your government has flexed its fiscal firepower, as you call it, no government has unlimited money. So big businesses can now apply to this Leaf Program for loans, and your government will ultimately choose who gets that money. So how comfortable are you in this new economy choosing the winners and the losers?

Justin Trudeau: (32:28)
I think it’s important to highlight that with the new Leaf Program, the government is there as a lender of last resort. Large businesses, unlike the small businesses that we’ve been very generous and direct to with the Canada Emergency Business Account, large businesses have much greater access to credit on the international credit markets, through the big banks, and that’s why we are encouraging them to make available the credit facilities that they have right now.

Justin Trudeau: (32:57)
If they’re in a situation where they cannot access that credit, they can turn to the government for funds through the Leaf Program, but they are loans that come with conditions around governance, around paying a proper share of taxes, around a plan for climate change.

Justin Trudeau: (33:16)
These are the kinds of things that we expect as Canadians when our taxpayer dollars go towards supporting businesses. So we are there as a program, but there are many conversations and discussions that are going to happen within companies, as they look at the best way to weather this storm.

Molly Thomas: (33:36)
Prime Minister, switching gears a bit. The United Nations said today that Canada has an obligation to secure the urgent release and repatriation of a five-year-old orphan girl who’s in Northeastern Syria, especially now with COVID posing an added threat. She has family here in Canada. What is your government going to do to get Emira out of that overcrowded refugee camp?

Justin Trudeau: (33:54)
We have been working on this file for many months now. We know that it is an extremely difficult situation for the family. We’re making sure that we’re going through the proper processes, but we also understand the importance of being that country that is consistently there to support people in difficulty around the world. We’re trying to do our part even in difficult situations. And I want to thank the extraordinary public servants who are working, even through this pandemic, to help. [foreign language 00:34:26]

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