Jul 20, 2021
Justin Trudeau Canada Housing Announcement Press Conference Transcript
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference on July 20, 2021 to make an announcement about affordable housing. Read the transcript of the speech briefing here.
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Minister Filomena Tassi: (05:03)
[foreign language 00:05:03]. Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks so much for being here today. I wish to begin by acknowledging that we are situated on the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huran, Wyandot, Haudenosaunee, and Mississaugas. This land is covered by the Dish with One Spoon wampum belt covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (05:28)
I’m Filomena Tassi, member of parliament for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, as well as Canada’s Minister of Labor. I’m proud to be here with you today for this very important announcement, and I’m thrilled to welcome our incredible prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to Hamilton, our ambitious city. We’ve been very fortunate to welcome him here many times since he’s become the leader of the Liberal Party. It’s wonderful, Prime Minister, to have you back in the hometown of Hamilton.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (05:56)
I’m so delighted as well to welcome Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development Ahmed Hussen. Ahmed is no stranger to Hamilton. He speaks often of his time in Hamilton as a youth and a student. Ahmed has been completely committed to offering Canadians a safe, stable, and well-maintained place to call home. In fact, the last time Minister Hussen was in town virtually, he announced a historic investment of $145 million in City Housing Hamilton to repair 6,290 affordable housing units across 66 multi-family buildings in the city over the next nine years.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (06:37)
In order for any city or community to prosper, residents need access to safe and affordable housing. The pandemic has worsened many of the hardships already faced by Canadians experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness. Hamilton is no exception. Like other cities, we know that rents have gone up and housing prices have risen. I’ve seen firsthand many Hamiltonians who are struggling to find a safe and affordable place to call home.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (07:12)
Housing has always been my top priority and a top priority for our government. Indeed, since 2015, our government has stepped up to help make over one million Canadians find safe and affordable homes, and we will continue to do what it takes to grow the middle class, build back stronger communities, and make life more affordable for Canadians.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (07:38)
We have invested millions of dollars in affordable housing projects led by organizations like the YWCA and Indwell. I have been working on this in Hamilton with the assistance of my local caucus colleagues. We’ve held three symposia, one in 2018 and two in 2020 to get input from Hamilton stakeholders and to share information on how to access funding dollars. We held stakeholder engagement meetings hosted by The Good Shepherd with officials from CMHC as well as the parliamentary secretary to minister, who’s an Adam Vaughn. We have had great numbers of advocates here and stakeholders in Hamilton who work tirelessly to ensure that everyone in Hamilton has a safe and secure place to call home.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (08:26)
I am incredibly proud of the advocacy that takes place right here in Hamilton, and I know that when Parliamentary Secretary Vaughan was here, he actually gave a shout-out to those advocates, saying it’s one of the strongest advocacy communities across this country. I’ve also worked with the City of Hamilton officials and our mayor to help develop affordable housing in our city.
Minister Filomena Tassi: (08:49)
We will continue to do more to make sure that everyone has a safe, stable, and well-maintained place to call home, which brings me to today’s announcement. To tell you more, I am honored to have the opportunity to introduce to you Canada’s prime minister, the right honorable Justin Trudeau, a real champion for affordable housing in Hamilton and across our great country. Over to you, Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:15)
Thank you. [inaudible 00:09:25]. Hello, everyone. [foreign language 00:09:34]. It is absolutely wonderful to be here today with Minister Hussen and Minister Tassi to talk about what we’re doing on affordable housing for Canadians. Filomena, thank you for your words. Thank you for your leadership here in the community and across the country as our Minister of Labor. it is always wonderful to be back in Hamilton with you, and Ahmed, thank you for all your leadership as Minister of Housing, Families, and Communities. We’ve made a lot of announcements lately, whether it’s been childcare or housing investments. This is all part of how we’re making sure that Canadians are properly supported. Also really happy to see Jeff from Indwell here as well.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (10:16)
Building a more resilient Canada starts by making sure everyone has a roof over their head, because for too many people in this country, finding an affordable place to call home is still a challenge. We need to keep working to change that. When we say we, I mean all orders of government in all sectors. We all need to pull together to find solutions on supply across the housing spectrum. Look, I don’t need to tell people in the GTHA why this matters, because I don’t have to tell anyone here that buying a home is beyond the reach of too many families. That’s why whether it’s helping first-time home buyers or building more affordable rental units, our government has made unprecedented investments in housing since 2015. After the spike in housing prices across the country during the last year, we know there is more work to be done.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:12)
Today we’re announcing funding to help build 328 homes across Southern Ontario, including 95 units here in Hamilton. All of these projects will be built with passive housing design, which means there’ll be extremely energy efficient and even more affordable for tenants. Friends, it’s exactly the kind of innovative thinking we need more of. [foreign language 00:11:37]. As you know, last December, we announced $10.8 million to support the creation of 45 new affordable homes here in Hamilton through the Rapid Housing Initiative. We will have good news to share very shortly for the second phase of the initiative, and we will continue to work extremely hard to make sure that no one gets left behind.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:26)
When it comes to housing, there’s no one size fits all solution. That’s why we’re always working on a range of different ways to tackle this issue with a range of different partners, and I have to say that Indwell has been an extraordinary innovative partner in creating solutions that will last not just for a few years, but for decades as people get the stability and the strength that they need to contribute fully to their communities and build a better life. That vision is one that we are always happy to partnership, and I really want to thank Indwell.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:01)
While we’re here, I also want to thank the incredible workers who actually make this a reality. I know that [inaudible 00:13:09] and labor have been a really important part of this, but the hard work done to build a stronger Canada and better opportunities for everyone that all of you do every day is what allows us to be here together and making these great announcements, because making housing more accessible and more affordable is about real positive outcomes for more people, for the middle-class families who are being priced out of their home towns, for women and children who need a safe place to go, for people experiencing chronic homelessness, for workers who want to apply for a job in a big city, but worry about being able to afford rent. This is who these initiatives and these investments are about.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:51)
Of course, helping people build a better life for themselves doesn’t just mean making sure everyone has a home. It also means making sure our communities are more connected, and for that, we need efficient and modern-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (14:03)
… [inaudible 00:14:00], and for that we need efficient and modern public transit systems. Recently, we announced that the federal government will contribute up to $1.7 billion to the Hamilton Light Rail Transit Project. The new line will go from McMaster in the west, through downtown, all the way to Eastgate Centennial Park in Stoney Creek. This is good news for students, workers, and families, with more important things to do with their time than being stuck in traffic. And that’s not all of this will mean for community, after all projects like this also cut pollution and create good construction jobs. [foreign language 00:14:40].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (14:58)
The announcement we’re making today is part of the multi-layered approach we have to building a better Canada for everyone. The passive housing investments means we’ll be responsible towards the environment and fighting climate change, while at the same time lowering costs for people. Similarly, as we invest in public transit, we’re getting people to and from work and home more efficiently and quickly while at the same time fighting climate change. And while we do this, we rely on extraordinary good jobs in the construction industry that continue to contribute to building a better Canada and creating more opportunities for everyone to get good jobs and create a stronger future.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (15:39)
Before I end, I’d also like to say a few words about the Canada Child Benefit. Today marks five years since we brought in this program, for millions of hardworking families who now have hundreds of dollars more every month for essentials like groceries or school supplies, the CCB has been a real game changer. Unlike the previous government sending checks to millionaires, we designed the CCB for families who actually need the help, and the results speak for themselves. In the last five years, we’ve helped lift nearly 435,000 kids out of poverty. Today, The maximum annual benefit is going up once again to keep pace with the rising cost of living. This is yet another example of [inaudible 00:16:34]-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (16:35)
… some outstanding Brampton youth to talk about their concerns and their ideas for a better future. I know how hard this pandemic crisis has been for young people, everything changed so suddenly. Seeing friends, going to school, finding a job, practicing sports, so many things were suspended, young people made so many sacrifices. So I want you to know that our government to be here for you, to work with you to build a better future, to draw on your ideas, your dynamism and your optimism for a better future, and today’s announcement to create more affordable housing, is certainly a part of that. [foreign language 00:17:15]. I’m happy to pass the mic over to Ahmed Hussen now.
Minister Ahmed Hussen: (17:27)
Thank you, Prime Minister for that kind introduction. [foreign language 00:17:33], and it’s great to be back in Hamilton. I went to high school in Sir John A. Macdonald and it’s always a special treat to be back in my first community in Canada. It is also a pleasure to be here, of course, with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outstanding Minister of Labour and friend, Filomena Tassi, who’s a very strong advocate for families right here in Hamilton and across Canada, but particularly on the issue of affordable housing. We’ve had numerous conversations on the importance of continuing federal investments in housing in Hamilton.
Minister Ahmed Hussen: (18:09)
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of home. As we’ve told Canadians to shelter in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, we’ve understood even more deeply, the importance of home being a place of sanctuary and refuge during these challenging times. [foreign language 00:18:28]. We’ve spoken directly with so many families on the challenges that they faced during this pandemic. As the Prime Minister said, we’ve we stepped up early and quickly to introduce new programs, but also to enhance existing programs, like the Canada Child Benefit, to make sure that Canadians don’t have to choose between paying their rent and putting food on the table. These measures have provided a valuable relief to families, but also helped our economy. But we didn’t stop there, [foreign language 00:19:14]. We’re making an investment unlike any other, by any federal government in Canadian history, to build a truly affordable, high quality, accessible and inclusive early learning and childcare system across our country. A system that will cut childcare fees in half by the end of next year, and bring childcare fees down to an average of $10 within five years.
Minister Ahmed Hussen: (19:49)
And just this morning, we celebrated the fifth year anniversary of the CCB, the Canada Child Benefit, by once again announcing that this benefit will be increasing, again, to keep up with the cost of living. This, in addition to the $1,200 per child under the age of six, that parents will receive this year to help them navigate the unique challenges brought on by the pandemic. We also know that in addition to supporting families, we have to make sure that we’re keeping an eye on the issues of affordable housing and access to safe and accessible housing. The National Housing Strategy is helping us to do exactly that. It has grown from a $40 billion program to a $72.5 billion program. The Rapid Housing Initiative is an example of that. A $2.5 billion investment that is taking 4,700 success stories and converting it into 9,200 new permanent affordable housing units across the country. [foreign language 00:20:57]. This initiative is helping to ensure that no one is left behind. And just a few months ago, we announced, as Minister Tassi said, $145.6 million in funding for the repair and regeneration of over 6,200 affordable housing units in Hamilton to ensure that they’re energy efficient, accessible, and to lengthen their lifespan. And one of those units is in 95 Hess Street, a social housing building that I inhabited while I went to high school in Hamilton. This is making a big difference in the lives of Hamiltonians, and will make sure that more Hamiltonians have a safe and affordable place to call home, and today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is another piece of that puzzle. And with that, I want to turn it over to Jeff Neven from Indwell to provide a few remarks, [crosstalk 00:21:59].
Jeff Neven : (22:06)
Thank you, Minister Hussen, and Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau for joining us today for this announcement and for your support. And Minister Tassi, thank you for your ongoing and consistent search for finding solutions for people needing housing in Hamilton and across Canada. My colleagues at Indwell and I are honored that you’re all here today. Especially over the last two years and even more over the past two months, it’s become clear that it is important to us as Canadians that we affirm the dignity, the dignity given to us by the creator, the dignity of housing. I live in this neighborhood. I live in Ward Three, and there’s dozens of people, of my neighbors who are sleeping under tarps in our neighborhood, and this is a solution to that. It’s about affirming people’s dignity of all people.
Jeff Neven : (23:12)
Yesterday marked three years from when we stood right here and we had a party, who is here for that party? Where some of you here, I hear a woo woo. Yeah. And we purchased this site. And the first thing we did is we had a party, a party to announce to our neighborhood that there was going to be change, and that there was hope on the horizon. And here we are today, three years from that, with these buildings behind us, the dreams have come up as structures, and it was… As we gathered, we remembered that just a week earlier of that party, there was somebody that was found with without vital signs, and it was too late for them, right over here. So we party, we dream of a brighter future. We can see today a brighter future, but we hold on to the need yet that we’re addressing.
Jeff Neven : (24:13)
By this time next year, this courtyard will be a central hub for these three buildings and home for over 110 people, peoples whose hopes for health, wellness and belonging are being realized. This building to my right, right here, the former stables of the dairy, might be surprising, but it will be the first to open later this year. And it will create homes for 13 indigenous tenants, and the new offices for Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing. Where is Melanie? Melanie you’re over there, [inaudible 00:24:55]. Thanks for your leadership on this. And as Melanie said today, to me, this is what working out the truth of the Truth and Reconciliation looks like, and we’re, we’re proud to partner together on not only this project, but on a commitment to work out the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
Jeff Neven : (25:16)
So we are thankful for you, and we’re thankful for all of our partners that make this possible for truly deeply affordable housing and supports across Southwestern Ontario. I’d like to thank our federal government as partners. Minister Hussen, when you come and you talk to us and say, “What are the solutions? What do we need to do to partner to create real solutions to this?” You listen, and we see that replicated and we see the response in policy, so we thank you for listening to our community and creating solutions.
Jeff Neven : (25:51)
And we’re thankful for other levels of government and their contribution as well. And did you know that we have already raised over $3 million in privates fundraising support as well for this? And I’ll just call out to Mary D’Alton over there who’s the Executive Director of the Cowan Foundation, and they got almost a half a million dollars into this project in donations. So this is possible when we all come together and say, “This is what’s important. These are the values of our community, and this is how we live them out. And this is what’s possible.” We are thankful for the leadership of CMHC and their vision, the vision that by 2030 that everyone in Canada has a home that they can afford and that meets their needs. That’s powerful, isn’t it? We thank Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for this vision, and we’re thankful to contribute and partner in it. And we will not settle, Prime Minister until everyone has a home that they can afford, and that meets their needs, and that’s a commitment from us as a community as well. Working together, makes these things happen. We see the buildings today, a year from now we’ll welcome you back, and we’ll welcome you back Prime Minister to a ribbon cutting. And this space will be animated with stories, with lives, with hope, with new transformation of lives. And I’m just so delighted about that piece, that’s why we’re here today, isn’t it? Thank you for joining us. And I’d like to open up questions. Prime Minister, if you would take the podium.
Speaker 1: (27:39)
Thank you, we’ll now go to questions from media. Just as a reminder, it’s was one question and one follow-up.
Teviah Moro: (27:43)
[inaudible 00:27:43], thank you. Prime Minister Trudeau, my name is Teviah Moro, I worked for The Hamilton Spectator. I have a question for you that deals with what Hamilton is seeing, and I’m sure other cities across the country, and that’s rent evictions that are putting people on the street. And I think your government has tried…
Teviah Moro: (28:03)
… that are putting people on the street, and I think your government has tried to address this through offshore investors through the tax that will try and dissuade them from sitting on properties and leaving them vacant. However, I think a lot of people would agree that a number of these financialized landlords are right here in Canada, and I think that that tool would not apply to them. So what are you doing to try and prevent this problem really, which is a huge attrition in the private market to prevent people from getting pushed out of their homes?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:37)
Well, I think first of all, we recognize not just in Hamilton, but right across the country. Housing is a huge challenge. There is a spike in prices that we’ve seen associated with the pandemic, but not only because of the pandemic. There are challenges around adequacy of supply. There are challenges around rising costs that are pricing many young people who would want to get into the housing market and start equity out of the market and delaying them by a few years, which will have impacts over the course of their lives.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:11)
This is something we recognized back in 2015, and we decided in a very deliberate decision that it was time for the federal government to get back into the business of housing in this country. Previous government had taken Canada out of the business of housing, left it in the hands of municipalities and the provinces, but we needed the federal government to come back in to make up for lost time. And we did that in a big way with the National Housing Strategy announced in 2017 with a number of different initiatives. Because as you point out, there are many different angles and aspects to the housing crisis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:52)
The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive makes sure that for young couples getting into the housing market, they can get a break on their mortgages so that they can actually afford the down payment and the payments to get in earlier into the housing market when we know prices are going up so significantly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:10)
Recent initiatives like the Rapid Housing Initiative, that actually is delivering money quickly to municipalities to build more solutions. Initiatives like the Rental Construction Initiative that we leaned on yesterday in a big announcement in Brampton to create more and more affordable rental units right on public transit. And today we’re talking about the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which we’re working with Indwell and other partners across the country to find innovative solutions for low-cost housing and availability and a deep affordability for people.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:55)
Yes, there are other measures we brought in as well, including a proposed tax on non-resident, non-occupying, non-Canadian owners of properties. But all these different things need to come together. And yes, the federal government can be there to give direct supports, like the Portable Housing Benefit for families, which we’re delivering. But at the same time, we need to have provincial partners. We need to have municipal partners, all orders of governments, and a great example of indigenous partnership as well for this building.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (31:33)
Rents and evictions are actually monitored and controlled by provincial legislation, not federal legislation. But we will continue to be there as investors, as partners, as direct supporters of Canadians who need to get better secure housing. Because as much as housing is a problem, it’s not just a problem. It’s also a solution, and looking at that solution for so many other challenges we’re facing is something this government remains committed to.
Teviah Moro: (32:06)
Thanks, Prime Minister. I have a follow-up question, which deals with the local issue. Your colleague, Minister McKenna, a little while ago told us about, well, the big LRT announcement, which you’ve mentioned again today. However, there was a condition that she, where her words, as she suggested that affordable housing would have to come with this light rail line. We’re a little bit … We’re hoping you could provide a little more clarity as to what that means. Who is going to provide that? How will that condition be made into a reality?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (32:36)
Well, I think one of the things we understand with transit, we have an opportunity to build more livable cities and more housing units closer to accessible transit. We need to build transit. We need to build homes close to transit, and that is part of the entire vision of this government. To recognize it, even as we fight climate change with better transit. Even as we tackle poverty and chronic homelessness with more housing. Even as we move forward to great good jobs in housing, in construction. Even as we move forward on creating opportunity and prosperity for people to live closer to where they work.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (33:15)
We have to work it all together. So we were very happy to partner with the city of Hamilton and get the province back on board for significant trends and initiatives. But we’re also going to keep working on housing, because we know that making sure that people can live close to transit to get to and from work in affordable ways is also part of building a stronger Hamilton and the stronger Canada.
Kevin Werner : (33:42)
Kevin Werner, Hamilton Community News. So you’re here today. Your Minister McKenna was here yesterday. When is the federal election going to be called?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (33:52)
The work that this government is doing, and quite frankly has done for the past six years, has been focused on delivering for Canadians. We launched the National Housing Strategy, which led to this, back in 2017. We’ve continued to step up on a Canada Child Benefit that five years ago was put into place and has had an impact on families all across the country with more money every month tax-free for the families who need it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (34:21)
We’ve moved forward on investments in public transit. And of course, we’re announcing a lot this summer, because over the last year and a half, we all spent a lot of time on Zoom and it’s nice to be here in person to talk about the work that we’ve done over the past year in setting this up. Including with the historic Budget 2021 that has laid out the kinds of investments that will ensure that we build back better. We build back greener. We build back fairer for everyone. These are the things we’ve been working on, and right now I’m very glad to be here with friends and partners to continue to talk about the difference we’re making a Canadian’s lives as we build back better.
Kevin Werner : (35:10)
You were at the mosque this morning and in light of the attack against the Muslim mother and daughter, your government has been criticized for not doing enough to combat Islamophobia. How do you respond to that?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (35:28)
When we took office in 2015, we did so with the straightforward commitment to Canadians. The politics of division, the politics of singling out one community, all too often the Muslim community to gain votes on, to gain political advantage on, as unfortunately we saw even in the lead up to the 2015 election. And we have worked since then on bringing Canadians together.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (35:58)
A couple of years after that, we introduced Bill M-103 in the House of Commons to recognize and condemn Islamophobia. You will remember that there was an unfortunate level of disagreement and debate over something as obvious as the need to condemn Islamophobia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (36:17)
And over the past years, the work that we’ve done as a government with partners in the community sector and indeed across the country, we’ve gotten to a place where Canadians all understand that we have to fight against Islamophobia. Even as we stand against antisemitism, even as we stand against the troubling rise in anti-Asian racism, even as we stand against the systemic and perpetual anti-black racism that Canada still struggles with, and even as we continue to redouble and recommit ourselves every day to the hard work of reconciliation. Particularly given the very difficult news coming out of Cowessess, of Kamloops, out of former residential schools across the country for so many indigenous peoples and for so many Canadians to realize what our history is about.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (37:09)
So what have we done over the past years to counter Islamophobia? We established an anti-racism secretariat that has a direct mandate on that. We’ve worked with our intelligence agencies and securities to ensure concerning security officers to make sure that we’re listing organizations like the Proud Boys and far-right extremists as being on Canada’s terrorist list. We’ve continued to invest in community safety infrastructure for mosques, for synagogues, for churches so they can install cameras that will keep them safer.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (37:42)
We’ve actually moved forward recently on new legislation to strengthen our justice system to be able to go after online extremism and counter online harms, including restoring Section 13 to the Human Rights Act. We have taken many steps, but I absolutely agree a government alone cannot eradicate racism, cannot eliminate Islamophobia. I mean, there’s much we have done and there’s much more we will do, including hosting a National Summit on Islamophobia this week. But it is on all Canadians to stand with vulnerable communities, to be better allies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (38:33)
When a kid from the LGBT community is being bullied, we need to show them we’re there for them. When women are afraid of walking in the streets, wearing their hijab, we have to show them that we stand with them against hate and intolerance. When a synagogue is vandalized, it’s up to all of us, not just Jewish Canadians, to come out and stand against that kind of hatred. And yes, the horrible pandemic has created anxieties and stresses. I think about domestic violence, where we were telling people to stay home because you need to stay safe. What about those women for whom home is not a safe place?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (39:20)
We cannot simply expect that government can pass a piece of legislation and do it all. I mean, yes, we have lots to do, we have done and we will continue to. But we need every Canadian to be standing against hatred and intolerance, from calling out sexist language in the workplace to pushing back against discrimination in our community, to standing with community members who are fearful because of their religion, because of the way they look.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (39:53)
If we want to be the country I know we want to be, we all have to step up. We have to come together, and that is what we’re working on as a government and that was what we’re working on as Canadians.
Matt Ingram : (40:09)
Good afternoon, Prime Minister. I’m Matt Ingram with CHCH News. I’m wondering in light of the attack in Ancaster, a number of people in the Muslim community are feeling unsafe. Tackling Islamophobia is certainly going to take time. So I’m wondering, are there some immediate concrete steps you can take today to make people feel safer in their own community?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (40:30)
Nobody in Canada should feel unsafe walking the streets, going about their business, regardless of what they’re wearing or what their skin color is. That’s not what Canada should be. Unfortunately, that is the lived reality for far too many Canadians. And in the Muslim community, the anxiety they’re feeling just going out to the store, wearing a hijab and being fearful is unacceptable in this country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (41:01)
So yes, as a government, we’ve convened a National Summit on Islamophobia later this week, where we’re going to talk about deliberate and measured steps that we can take. We’ve moved forward on countering online harms and giving more power to the justice system. We’re working with police officers and agencies to ensure that we’re both countering systemic racism within them, but also making sure they’re connecting better with communities.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (41:33)
There is much we need to do, and I know the National Council of Muslim Canadians have put forward a list of recommendations that we’re going to be talking about later this week and we’re going to move forward on. But it is something that if you want to talk about ending racism in our communities, ending Islamophobia, ending the ignorance and the intolerance. Yes, government has a big role to play and we will always play it, but ordinary Canadians from coast to coast …
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (42:03)
Ordinary Canadians from coast, to coast to coast, need to step up and realize we are all part of the solution. We can all stand against systemic racism, unconscious bias, against intolerance. There is more we can do to be better allies to one another, because that’s what Canada is supposed to be all about.
Matt Ingram : (42:25)
In regards to the reopening of the border, yesterday, you said that you’ll continue to work with the American government. What are they telling you? And are they explaining why there hasn’t been a reciprocal arrangement for fully vaccinated Canadians to be allowed in? And is there a timeline, do we know when we can anticipate fully vaccinated Canadians be allowed back in the states?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (42:43)
I will remind you that vaccinated or unvaccinated Canadians have been allowed to go down to Florida over the entire course of this pandemic. The Americans have always had an asymmetrical arrangement with us, where even though we put in a barrier to tourists or non-essential travel from the US and from the rest of the world, as of last March, whether they’re by land or by air, Canadians have throughout the pandemic, been able to fly down to the states for tourism, for secondary residences, for whatever reasons they want it. So the asymmetry in the relationship has always been there, but that hasn’t prevented us from working very, very closely to align ourselves. And indeed, being able to continue that $2 billion worth of goods and merchandise that crosses our border every single day and including during the height of the pandemic required cooperation and alignment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (43:44)
But every country gets to set its own rules about how it will keep its citizens safe. Canada is proceeding in a responsible, gradual way. We have throughout the pandemic been very careful about the steps that we’ve taken, and we’re going to proceed in a gradual way, allowing fully vaccinated Americans only to come into Canada, as of the 9th of August, but we will still be monitoring, we will still be doing testing, we will still be demanding pre-arrival tests because we are going to be cautious about it every step of the way, because we’ve sacrificed too much over the past year and a half to fall back into another wave or another surge now. And that’s why to everyone out there who is looking at our rising vaccination rates and saying, “Oh, it’s great that everybody else is getting vaccinated. That means I won’t have to.” Think again.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (44:44)
We’re going to continue to live with COVID-19 as a world over the coming years until we eradicate this, and that means there will continue to be cases here and there, including in Canada, in the coming months. And those cases will be primarily amongst people who didn’t get vaccinated, or didn’t get their second dose of vaccination. Hospitalizations and severe consequences are still out there. We are not at a level where we can let down our guard. So please, if you haven’t got your first dose yet, now is the time. If you haven’t got your second dose, it’s also the time to do that, Because we all want to have a better fall. So please continue to get vaccinated. We’re leading the world right now in percentage of people vaccinated. We’re continuing to do that. Keep it up, we’re not through this pandemic yet, but we’re on the right track.
Heather Butts: (45:43)
Hi, Prime Minister, Heather Butts with CTV National News. Canadian veterans are working to help get interpreters out of Afghanistan, and you mentioned yesterday that you’ll be making an announcement on that very soon, but there are others who transformed their lives, some with Canada’s help, and are now in danger. For instance, the families of those who championed girls’ education are now at increasing risk, so what is Canada doing to help these people?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (46:12)
First of all, Canadians stepped up in Afghanistan, and continue to step up through humanitarian and development work. After many years of stepping up on the military level, and we were assisted by Afghans who shared our vision and our view of a fairer, peaceful, better Afghanistan and better world. Many of those people have put their lives at risk to support Canadians. Many of them are now at great risk because of gains that the Taliban is making in Afghanistan. That is why we are working with partners on the ground, we are working with Canadian veterans, we are working with different organizations, and with communities in Afghanistan to be able to provide safety, and coming to Canada for many of them and their families. As I said, this is something that we take very seriously, and that we are working diligently and aggressively on.
Heather Butts: (47:22)
Thanks. I just want to go back to the vaccines. You mentioned briefly Canada is getting over 7 million doses of vaccine this week, but the uptick of Canadians taking the vaccine has slowed over the past few weeks. We’re hearing from pharmacists who are having to perhaps discard some of these vaccines, people not showing up for appointments, and again, sort of that uptick for first and second doses really slowing down. So are you worried at all that supply of the vaccine is now outpacing the demand? And are you worried about wasting these vaccines if the demand isn’t there?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (47:59)
Canada has, from the very beginning, understood that vaccination is the way through this pandemic. That’s why we signed more deals with more vaccine companies than just about any of our peer countries, why we secured potentially more doses per Canadian than for any other citizen in the world. And that is part of why we have now passed the US in terms of fully vaccinated people, and in terms of people who have at least one dose, we are at the highest percentage in the world, or certainly among the G20.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (48:38)
But that’s not just because the government did all the right things in terms of booking vaccines, delivering vaccines, and getting them into people’s arms, it’s because Canadians also stepped up. Canadians knew that this is what we had to do to keep ourselves safe, to keep our community safe, and to get our economy going again, Canadians stepped up and got vaccinated, and are continuing to get vaccinated. And that’s why I continue to encourage everyone to go get your second shot, get your first shot if you haven’t gotten it, because we’re going to want to have the best possible fall, and that’ll only happen if the largest possible number of us are vaccinated. And at the same time, we are stepping up around the world, we’ve donated millions of dollars, and millions of vaccines that we weren’t using to the rest of the world, and we will continue because we don’t get through this pandemic anywhere until we get through it everywhere.
Nicole Thompson: (49:40)
Nicole Thompson, the Canadian Press. I wanted to ask you about sort of the lack of transparency coming from the U S about why they aren’t following Canada’s lead on allowing Canadians to cross the border by land, rather than just by air? Do you think Canadians deserve more transparency from the US in that regard?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (49:59)
I think every country should and does set its own border policies. We have been working with the United States to keep them informed, to make sure that as much as possible, our choices are aligned, but you will have seen, everyone will have seen that our countries took different approaches, certainly during the beginning of the pandemic. From March, 2020, over a year and a half ago, we imposed a two week mandatory quarantine for anyone who came into Canada, we brought in mandatory testing, we insured steps that the United States never quite took in their approach. They will follow their science, they will make their own decisions, and we will work with them to make sure that we’re coordinating as best as possible, but Canada is not going to anymore dictate what the US should be doing around its border policy than we would accept the US to dictate to us around our border policy. As friends and neighbors, we will work together as best we can, but each of our respective governments responsibility is to keep our citizens safe, and that is what’s going to guide us every step of the way. And of course, that is what guides the American government as well.
Nicole Thompson: (51:15)
And taking it back to the issue of Islamophobia, we’ve seen that numerous Muslim charities have written to you in recent weeks. Raising concerns about being unfairly singled out for federal revenue agency audits and sanctions, which they say contributes to Islamophobia. Will you act on their concerns?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (51:34)
Absolutely. We are extremely concerned with these reports and are looking very closely at our processes. It is unacceptable that processes single out any particular communities. We do have important work to do to make sure that charitable organizations are following all the rules involved, and that is an ongoing process. But recognizing that systemic racism exists in all of our institutions, in all of our governments, and all of our organizations, means listening to communities who point out barriers or discrimination that they’re facing, and pledging to work with them to solve these challenges.
Hi there, this is Bobby [inaudible 00:52:17] with the CBC News, you’re saying the government can’t fight hate alone, and ordinary people need to call out discrimination and support those who are afraid. A lot of people are already doing that though, so how else can ordinary people like the ones here today, help?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (52:33)
First of all, by having absolutely zero tolerance for anyone in any leadership position that plays up the politics of fear or division Canadians massively rejected that in 2015, and we need to continue to remain vigilant that in various rhetoric, and dog whistle politics, and coded language, that we’re calling out people who are encouraging Canadians to be divided, as opposed to pulling together
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (53:06)
Further, people can reach out to community groups, whether it’s grassroots Muslim organizations, or through the local mosques to ask how you can help. Whether it’s that go going to visit on-