May 22, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 22
Full transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Friday, May 22 coronavirus press conference for Canada. He says Canadian Feds will fund COVID-19 testing and tracing.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:00)
[foreign language 00:01: 41] Hello, everyone. This morning, we awoke to terrible news coming out of Pakistan. A Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying over a hundred passengers, crashed in a residential neighborhood in Karachi. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. Our thoughts are with Pakistan today.
Justin Trudeau: (02:01)
We’re starting a bit earlier this morning, because we have a cabinet meeting early this afternoon. So thank you all for joining us now. Last night, the Premiers and I held our 10th weekly call since the beginning of the crisis. And we talked about what’s been on everyone’s mind lately, how we can safely reopen the economy.
Justin Trudeau: (02:20)
Over the past few months, Canadians have been doing a great job of staying at home, maintaining physical distancing, and listening to public health advice. And that means we can restart some activities. But we’re not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 remains a serious health threat. We have to proceed with caution and keep listening to science, or we risk losing the progress we’ve made. So today I want to outline what we know needs to happen to successfully reopen the economy and adjust to our new normal.
Justin Trudeau: (02:55)
First, we need to continue scaling up our capacity so we can quickly identify new cases and isolate them. We’re working with provinces and territories to expand testing by procuring things like reagents and swabs. While some provinces have the capacity to meet their current needs, we’re collaborating to ramp up testing so we can protect Canadians and effectively manage future outbreaks.
Justin Trudeau: (03:23)
Second, we need to accelerate our ability to do contact tracing. After we’ve confirmed and isolated new cases, we have to get in touch with everyone who may have been exposed to the virus, and make sure they take measures to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms or get tested. While provinces and territories are managing testing and contact tracing differently, our government has trained federal employees who can make 3,600 contact tracing calls a day, seven days a week. Statistics Canada has also an additional 1700 interviewers ready to go, who can make up to 20,000 calls a day. These federal resources are available to assist provinces and territories with any surges or backlogs or challenges they have in contact tracing. We’re already helping to make calls in Ontario, and stand ready to help anywhere else.
Justin Trudeau: (04:23)
Third, we have to ensure that data collected across jurisdictions is shared between provinces and territories. This will help us track the spread of the virus, adapt our response accordingly, and save lives.
Justin Trudeau: (04:39)
[foreign language 00:04:39]
Justin Trudeau: (04:42)
Now Canada is a vast country, and some regions have been hit harder than others by the pandemic. That’s why plans to relax restrictions vary from one jurisdiction to another. But in order for people to move around freely and start getting back to normal life, we have to improve our ability to quickly pinpoint the virus and isolate it. All premiers recognize how important this is, and I want to thank them for their engagement in this issue. Since the beginning of this crisis, all jurisdictions have been working towards one common goal, protecting Canadians.
Justin Trudeau: (06:45)
The next phase of our collaborative efforts is on testing, contact tracing, and data collection. And I’ve told the premiers that the federal government is here to support, facilitate, and fund this important work. Taking strong collaborative action to expand testing and contact tracing is important for both Canadians and businesses to have confidence that we’re on the right foot. They need to know that we have a coordinated approach to gradually reopen that is rooted in science, evidence and the ability to rapidly detect and control any future outbreaks.
Justin Trudeau: (07:24)
[foreign language 00: 07:24]
Justin Trudeau: (08:53)
Over the past few months, we’ve set up a number of programs to help everyone from students to parents to seniors get through this crisis. If you need support but you’re not quite sure where to start, we now have a new online tool to help you. Just go to canada.ca/coronavirusbenefits. You’ll find a list of a few simple questions, and the tool will generate an array of programs for which you may be eligible.
Justin Trudeau: (09:24)
I want to close today by addressing the significant increase in acts of racism against Asian Canadians. Over the past few weeks and months, businesses, buildings and statues have been vandalized. People have been verbally abused and physically attacked. It’s unacceptable. Hate, violence and discrimination have no place in Canada. This is not who we are as Canadians. I want to thank those who have stood up against violence and exposed what is happening in our communities. We need to speak out against racism, wherever it is found…
Justin Trudeau: (10:03)
We need to speak out against racism, wherever it is found, so we can stop it. The Asian Canadians across the country know that we all stand with you. We will not let hate divide us. [foreign language 00:10:15].
Speaker 2: (10:16)
Thank you Prime Minister, we’ll now go to the phone for questions. Operator?
Speaker 5: (10:21)
Thank you,[foreign language 00:10:20].
Speaker 3: (10:21)
[foreign language 00:10:27].
Justin Trudeau: (12:27)
[foreign language 00:01:08]. We have from the very beginning, highlighted how important it is to increase testing capacity. We have currently a testing capacity around 60,000 tests a day, but that capacity hasn’t been reached yet anywhere in the country, because we have a number of provinces that don’t have to augment all that much, their testing capacity, because things are under control. But everyone needs to be ready in case there is a surge, which is why we’re moving forward on ensuring that there is that testing capacity, and we continue to ramp it up. In regards to contact tracing, we know that that is an essential element as we move forward.
Justin Trudeau: (13:11)
We’re working very closely with Ontario, we’ve developed a public service approach federally that is there to support the mechanisms in the province to do that contact tracing, and we’re ramping it up. But we also are there obviously to help any other province that would need help with contact tracing, and we’ve asked provinces to highlight for us what their plans are and how we can help with that. In regards to the app, we continue to work on that and hopefully have things to share in the coming days or weeks
Speaker 2: (13:44)
[foreign language 00:13:46].
Speaker 3: (13:44)
[foreign language 00:13:49].
Justin Trudeau: (13:44)
[foreign language 00:14:34]
Speaker 2: (17:50)
[foreign language 00: 05:21]. Operator?
Speaker 5: (17:59)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:15:25].
Speaker 4: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:15:32].
Justin Trudeau: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:15:58].
Speaker 2: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:16:45].
Speaker 4: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:16:50].
Justin Trudeau: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:17:04].
Speaker 2: (17:59)
[foreign language 00:17:56]. Operator?
Speaker 5: (17:59)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:18:02]. Next question, Ryan Tumilty, National Post. Line Open.
Ryan Tumilty: (18:06)
Yeah, good morning sir. I’m wondering if the negotiations are ongoing over the reopening of Parliament, which is set to start on Monday. I’m wondering what your position is? Do you want the task order continued? Do you want to see some sort of larger parliament, some sort of hybrid model, what are you looking for?
Justin Trudeau: (18:24)
I think we want what Canadians want, to make sure that there is a functioning parliament that will ensure the questions and preoccupations from across the country get heard. There are certainly a non-COVID things we could be moving forward on, but I think the focus will always need to be on this exceptional situation we’re in, and our governments and our country’s response to that. Those discussions continue to be ongoing, and I know that all parties are united in wanting to ensure that we continue, as we have been, to demonstrate that our democracy is strong and our institutions are functioning. Not just despite the crisis, but because of the crisis. [foreign language 00:09:06].
Speaker 2: (19:44)
Thank you. Ryan, next question.
Ryan Tumilty: (19:47)
Yeah, I’m just wondering sir, do you envision an end to the virtual Parliament and more sessions in person? Do you see some sort of a hybrid model? What do you physically expect Parliament to be in the coming weeks, and do you think it should be extended [inaudible 00:20:03] through summer?
Ryan Tumilty: (20:03)
… to see in the coming weeks, and do you think it should extend the sitting through the summer?
Justin Trudeau: (20:05)
These are conversations that are ongoing between all party leaders. I think, obviously, we will be physically present in reduced numbers, regardless of what the final decision is by all parties. There will have to be a way for parliamentarians across the country to express the concerns and ask questions on behalf of their constituents. These are the kinds of things that we’re working out and I know, just as we have been able to sit over the past weeks, three times a week, and continue the functioning of our parliament, we will be able to continue that into the coming weeks. [foreign language 00:00:40].
Speaker 7: (20:59)
Thank you. We’ll take one more.
Speaker 8: (21:00)
Thank you. [French 00:01:04]. Next question. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press. Line open.
Jordan Press: (21:10)
Good morning. Prime Minister. Just on contact tracing, can you provide the specifics about the timelines that your government is going to do to make sure that all these separate efforts in provinces are actually consistent not siloed, and that the federal government is actually making sure there’s a national effort to ramp up testing?
Justin Trudeau: (21:30)
We know the heart of the reopening of the economy will involve Canadians traveling more within their provinces and potentially across the country. That’s why we need to have a national approach that is going to be able to have comparable data right across the country and comparable tools. Even in regions where the spread of the virus seems very much under control right now, there could be a resurgence, and when that happens, we need to be able to respond quickly and comprehensively, and that’s very much what the federal government is working on. We know and we’ve heard from provinces that contact tracing is a challenge in terms of delivering the bodies necessary to make the phone calls, to trace everyone a positive test could have been in contact with in the previous days. That’s why we’ve put forward the logistical support to be able to deliver that to any province across the country.
Speaker 7: (22:29)
And a followup, Jordan?
Jordan Press: (22:31)
[inaudible 00:22:31] but I want to go to something else. Last week, the Premier of Nova Scotia said he would wait and see whether or not Ottawa is willing to hold a public inquiry into the mass shooting in his province. So very simply, Prime Minister, will you commit that your government will led an independent public inquiry into the shooting?
Justin Trudeau: (22:48)
People have many questions about what happened in Nova Scotia and we’re encouraging the RCMP to do its work on the initial investigation, but as we move forward there will of course be larger questions to ask and we will work with the government of Nova Scotia on getting those answers. [foreign language 00:03:07].
Salimah Shivji: (23:27)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Salimah Shivji, CBC. I want to go back to contact tracing. You’re offering several thousand federal employees to help with that, but if only Ontario has signed on and not Quebec, how does that square with the immediate improvement that you were talking about earlier and is the message of urgency being lost here?
Justin Trudeau: (23:46)
We have been reaching out over the past week to all provinces to determine what their plan is on contact tracing, what exactly they are doing and whether or not they need more help. We have highlighted that we have more resources that can be deployed immediately. They’ve been in place for a while. And we certainly hope to hear back from the provinces that could need this quickly to tell us whether and how they want us to help. A number of provinces have. Some have not yet. [foreign language 00:04:20].
Salimah Shivji: (24:53)
On digital tracing, Apple and Google have actually said that their tracking platforms will require one app per country, and there is a need for this to happen quickly, obviously. We’ve been waiting on an announcement for this for weeks. People need to download the app. Will Ottawa step in and impose one app for provinces to use to make the digital tracing as effective as possible?
Justin Trudeau: (25:18)
Around the world, there have been a number of different apps developed, Singapore, Australia, other places. One of the challenges that those apps have encountered is that it has to sit in the foreground of your phone and drains the battery. That’s why the fix that Apple and Google are talking about bringing in, in the beginning of June, will be extremely important as a base for an effective contact tracing or exposure notification app. We are working with a number of different partners on potential apps. We’re working closely with Apple and Google on the update that they will be bringing forward. And it is our expectation that when the time comes for that to be released we will be able to recommend strongly to Canadians a particular app that will help us manage the spread of COVID-19. [foreign language 00:06:14].
Glen McGregor: (26:43)
Hi, Glen McGregor, CTV News. Prime Minister, I want to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. As you know, the Chinese government is considering very serious security legislation that’s going to really change the situation on the ground there at least for the 300,000 Canadians who are there now and could very likely end the one country, two systems arrangement that they’ve had for a while. What’s your message to Beijing now, and would you consider any kind of sanctions or any formal diplomatic rebuke if the government proceeds with this?
Justin Trudeau: (27:18)
We are concerned with the situation in Hong Kong. We have 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong and that’s one of the reasons why we want to ensure that the one country, two systems approach continues for Hong Kong. We have long called for a de-escalation of tensions and genuine dialogue between Hong Kong citizens and Beijing. We continue to call for that and we will keep monitoring the situation closely. [foreign language 00:07: 48].
Steve Chase: (28:23)
Steve Chase, The Globe and Mail. Prime Minister, I want to ask you what you’re doing to protect the intellectual property that’s being generated by this $1.2 billion you’ve poured into COVID related research? One of Canada’s spy agencies, CSIS, sent a bulletin to university researchers and academics warning them that there are increased risks right now, particularly because people are working from home, particularly because there’s a lot of international collaboration taking place. The FBI has sent out a similar warning, but unlike Canada. They actually identified the country they’re most concerned about is China. So my question for you is, what are you doing to protect us? Can you tell us anything about the breaches that have taken place so far? And are you going to build some kind of international coalition with other countries to confront China?
Justin Trudeau: (29:14)
We have long been concerned about intellectual property protections in Canada. That’s why we’ve increased the funding for the CSC, which is a communication security establishment that watches over cyber attacks and make sure that our systems are safe. The CSC is among the best intelligence agencies in the world in terms of that, and we’re constantly with partners all around the world with Five Eyes and others. We will continue to make sure that they have the tools necessary to keep Canadians and our institutions safe and part of that involves notifying, but part of that involves working behind the scenes to keep Canadians’ information and data protected. We will continue to ensure that they have the tools to do their work.
Speaker 7: (29:58)
[foreign language 00:30:00].
Speaker 9: (30:01)
[foreign language 00:00: 01].
Justin Trudeau: (30:48)
[foreign language 00:00:25].
Justin Trudeau: (31:29)
I think there are two things that are being discussed that are a little bit blended in some people’s views, that we tend to keep a little more separate. There are reflections on how parliament is coming back, how we will ensure that our institutions, our democracy continues to function strongly as it has over the past few weeks with three sessions a week. We know, going forward, we’re going to keep working and need to bring forward new issues. And then, there is this other reflection on proposals and suggestions made by other parties on how to improve the benefits we’re sending to Canadians, how to facilitate the reopening of the economy. And those conversations will continue on a separate track.
Speaker 9: (32:12)
[foreign language 00:02: 14].
Justin Trudeau: (32:58)
[foreign language 00:02:24].
Justin Trudeau: (33:07)
We know that millions of Canadians are off work right now. And tens of thousands of students who were relying on summer jobs to be able to pay for their groceries, their rent, their tuition fees are not going to be able to find any summer jobs. We needed to make sure that we’re supporting those students, so that they can continue in their path to higher education, so that they can continue to contribute to society. I know lots of young people want to contribute. That’s why we’re creating more jobs, more opportunities for them to develop experience, but we also needed to make sure that they were supported during the summer of unemployment. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Speaker 10: (33:49)
Hi, prime minister, [inaudible 00:00:33:50], Global News. The number of cases of COVID-19 among military members helping in Ontario and Quebec longterm care homes has doubled in the past week. Why is the military not yet receiving hazard pay when they’re clearly at an increased risk?
Justin Trudeau: (34:01)
And these are discussions that are ongoing within the military. We need to thank the women and men of the armed forces for stepping up yet again, whenever they are called on to go into difficult or risky situations, to do the work of protecting Canadians. This is what they’re doing and we thank them, and we salute them.
Speaker 10: (34:20)
And you’ve had several calls this week to advance Canada’s candidacy for the UN Security Council seat. As any diplomat who’s track these votes knows there’s a heavy amount of [inaudible 00:34:28] trading for support. So what is Canada offering, financial aid, votes for other candidates? What will you offer Arab countries this afternoon for their support and what did you offer other countries and leaders earlier this week in exchange for their support?
Justin Trudeau: (34:38)
From the beginning, Canada has framed our engagement for the UN Security Council as a means to an end. And what we are doing is demonstrating how we see the importance of multilateralism around the world, how we see a need to work together across borders to improve the situation both during this COVID crisis and contribute to a better world moving forward.
Justin Trudeau: (35:02)
Canada’s voice is one that brings people together on the world stage, and we will continue to play a significant role. We are big enough to make a difference on the council, but small enough to know that we can’t do it alone. Our capacity to pull people together, to represent and reflect the diversity of the planet within our own population and make that diversity and difference a source of strength, not just within Canada, but in our multilateral organizations is why we know that Canada has an important role to play. And Canadians have an important voice that needs to be heard on the UN Security Council going forward.
Justin Trudeau: (37:12)
[ foreign language 00:35:41].
Justin Trudeau: (37:12)