Jul 8, 2020
Justin Trudeau Canada Press Conference Transcript July 8
Full transcript of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s July 8 press briefing. In a criticism of the US, Trudeau said of Canada, “We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbor.” Read the full speech transcript here.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (00:16)
Good morning, everyone. To a productive start. Yesterday, Minister Miller signed a new co-developed protocol with National Chief Bellegarde to move forward on much needed reforms of indigenous child and family services. It should be up to indigenous peoples to decide what is best for their children, families, and communities. And with this protocol, we’re taking another important step in the right direction. We also announced new investments to expand access to cultural, emotional, and mental health support services for those affected by the national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, as well as the federal Indian day schools settlement agreement. To continue walking the road of reconciliation we must work with survivors, families, communities on the support they need. There’s still much to be done, but yesterday’s announcements are another important step along our shared path.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (01:17)
Over the past two days, we had a virtual meeting with the council of ministers. It was an opportunity for our team to meet up after a challenging start of the year in order to establish our priorities for the weeks and months to come. We started by talking about the pandemic and its impact on the economy. We also talked about what our government can and must do in order to fight systemic racism. I’ll start with discussions regarding the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (01:46)
On Monday, we talked with Dr. Tim, the chief public medical health officer of Canada, Dr. Namer, who is chief scientists and Dr. Naylor, who is responsible for the immunity task force on COVID-19. From the beginning our response has been based on science and data, and that is what we’re going to continue to do when we restart certain activities. This is the only way to protect Canadians and to truly put an end to COVID-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (02:21)
We held a two day virtual cabinet retreat. We talked about how the virus is progressing across the country, as well as our response so far. Later today we’ll be releasing a public health modeling update on COVID-19 in Canada. We’ll have more details then, but for now I want to give a quick overview. Last week, we said that nationally, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is declining over time. That is still the case today. The situation is stabilizing in Canada because Canadians did their part and followed public health instructions. But we still have to be very careful. Things can change quickly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (03:04)
As Dr. Tam will explain later, we still have some hotspots in some parts of the country, including in longterm care facilities and agricultural work settings. So as we continue to gradually reopen the economy, we have to remain vigilant. We have to keep following public health advice. COVID-19 caused a health crisis as well as an economic crisis. This is one of the themes that we touched on during the cabinet retreat. A lot of people were not able to work for weeks and others lost their jobs. All sectors of the economy felt the consequences of COVID-19, but some were more strongly impacted than others. In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on our economy, we’re going to be publishing an economic snapshot later today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (04:04)
Minister [Moreno 00:04:05] we’ll have more details to give you later, but here’s what you need to remember. When the pandemic hit, a lot of people lost their jobs overnight. They did not know how they’re going to feed their families or pay their bills. We’re facing an unprecedented challenge and our government had two choices. We could either let Canadians figure things out and hope for the best, or we could act quickly to help Canadians. And we chose to help Canadians. Today, Canada has one of the most ambitious and exhaustive plans in order to fight this pandemic. We increased financial support to vulnerable groups such as seniors and students. We offered loans to companies having liquidity issues. We helped employers re hire their employees, and we supported those who had lost their job.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (05:05)
We’re talking about 11 million Canadians that received the [CEWS 00:05:12] or the wage subsidy. Our government spent so that Canadians wouldn’t have to take on more debt. We did so because Canada entered into this crisis strongly. Our debt to GDP ratio was lower than other G-7 countries. Our government was well-placed to help Canadians. And we lay the foundation that will allow our economy to bounce back. Four months later, we have slowed the spread of the virus, and we are now able to reopen certain sectors of the economy with historic low interest rates, the cost for loans is low and our government will continue to invest in Canadians and in our economy. This restart this recovery, will see certain sectors bounce back more quickly than others. Some people will find a job more quickly than others. When we’re moving to this restart, Canadians can count on us to always be there for them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (06:33)
Impacts of COVID-19 on our economy, we will be releasing a fiscal and economic snapshot this afternoon. Minister Moreno will have more to say on this later today, but for now I want to talk about the main takeaways. When the pandemic first hit, a lot of people lost their jobs overnight. They didn’t know how they were going to feed their families or pay their bills. Faced with this unprecedented challenge, our government had two options. We could sit back, let Canadians fend for themselves and hope that would all be over soon or we could swiftly and substantially choose to support Canadians. We chose to support Canadians. As we measure the cost of helping Canadians we shouldn’t forget that the cost of doing nothing would have been far more to both our health fair and our economy. This is not and has not been a time for tightening of belts or for austerity. By building a bridge for Canadians through this crisis, we can and we’ll build a stronger, more resilient Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (07:46)
Today Canada has one of the most ambitious and comprehensive plans to counter the economic impacts of this pandemic. We increased financial support to vulnerable groups like seniors and students. We provided loans to businesses struggling with cashflow, helped employers re hire their employees and supported those who had lost their jobs. In fact, nearly 11 million Canadians have been supported through the emergency wage subsidy or the CEWS. Our government took on debt to reduce the amount that Canadians themselves had to take on. We were able to do this because Canada entered this crisis on strong footing with a net debt to GDP ratio considerably lower than the rest of the G-7. Our government was well positioned to be there for Canadians and lay the groundwork for our economy to bounce back. Four months later, we’ve slowed down the progression of the virus significantly and we’re now seeing parts of the economy reopen. And historically low interest rates mean manageable borrowing costs as we continue to invest in Canadians and in the-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
Costs as we continue to invest in Canadians and in the economy. Now the road to recovery will not be an easy one. Some sectors will bounce back more quickly than others. Some people will be able to find work, but others won’t right away. But as we move through this, into this recovery phase, Canadians can count on us to always be in their corner. Over the past two days, our team also talked about what concrete steps this government must take to fight racism and build a more inclusive Canada, because here are the facts, prejudice, discrimination, and violence are a lived reality for far too many Canadians. And it’s the result of systems which all too often condone, normalize, perpetrate, and perpetuate inequality and injustice against racialized people.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:58)
Our government pledged to work with racialized communities and indigenous peoples to address systemic racism. Over the last five years, we’ve invested in mental health resources for black youth and worked to close the gaps in services for indigenous communities. And we now have Canada’s anti-racism strategy, which has begun its work to change the way we do things and break down barriers. We’ve made progress, but it’s nowhere near enough. So Cabinet has put together a work plan for the summer months. Our goal is to come up with strong policies that will help eliminate barriers facing indigenous peoples racialized people and persons with disabilities.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (10:42)
Minister Lametti is working on justice reforms. Minister Blair is focused on modernizing policing structures and updating standards regarding the use of force. Ministers Banes and Ng are looking at improving access to capital and generating more capacity. Ministers Mendicino and Quatro are exploring ways to ensure better protection for temporary foreign workers. And Ministers Blair and Miller are committed to co-developing a legislative framework, which recognizes first nations policing as an essential service and expand the number of communities served by first nations policing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:25)
We have our work cut out for us, but we’re ready, fighting systemic racism, unconscious bias and discrimination is a top priority for our government. And we will continue to listen and work with communities and allies to build a better Canada. I want to end today by congratulating Bob Rae on his appointment as Canada’s ambassador to the United nations. Ambassador Rae has dedicated his life to serving Canada most recently as Canada’s special Envoy on humanitarian and refugee issues, and before that, as Canada’s special Envoy to Myanmar. In these roles, he worked closely with the UN and the International Community to help lead Canada’s humanitarian efforts. I know he will build on the work of Ambassador Marc-Andrea Blanchard, and defend our interests and our values with integrity. [foreign language 00:03:19].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:24)
I would also like to thank Ambassador Blanchard for his years of work, he was able to create relationships with new partners throughout his mandate. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
Speaker 2: (12:40)
[foreign language 00:03:40].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:46)
We’re going to start today’s question period with journalists in the room.
Speaker 3: (12:49)
[inaudible 00:12:49] with The Globe Mail. Last week you told reporters that the WE Charity contract awarding followed a transparent and open process. Did that include Cabinet approving the contract?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:02)
The recommendation to use We to get opportunities out for young people was made by the public service, but as a Cabinet, we ratify those decisions. It was really important for us to give opportunities to young people and remains important to give opportunities to young people through this pandemic, to be able to engage in their communities, support local organizations, and make a difference at a time where far too many people and particularly young people don’t have the opportunities because of this pandemic.
Speaker 3: (13:33)
And did you recuse yourself from that discussion and the decision at Cabinet?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:38)
No, I did not.
Speaker 3: (13:38)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:39)
I have a long worked on youth issues both as, before I got into politics, and since I’ve been in politics as a youth critic, getting young people involved in serving their country, recognizing their desire to build a better Canada, particularly through this time of crisis is something that I believe in deeply.
Speaker 2: (14:01)
Thank you, Stephanie Levitz CP.
Stephanie Levitz: (14:03)
Stephanie Levitz with the Canadian Press. Good morning. How is it that you’re going to begin reshaping federal aid programs as you go ahead forward, when the reality is most parents still don’t have full time place to put their kids at the end of the day, despite the $14 billion you’ve promised the province? Or you just not see that as the Prime Minister’s problem to solve?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (14:25)
I think as we look at creating jobs and creating economic growth across the economy, we need to know that one of the significant barriers to everyone participating is access to childcare. There are parts of this country where there is better access to childcare than others, and there is no question that our encouraging of provinces to improve access to safer childcare spaces right across the country is part of why we’ve set out $14 billion for the provinces. And we certainly hope that they will take that money and move forward on ensuring better childcare and safer childcare for kids across the country. It’s not just about doing the right thing at a time of vulnerability. It’s about growing our economy in meaningful ways and allowing people to get back to work. The federal government will use the levers that we have respecting, of course, that it is an area of provincial jurisdiction.
Stephanie Levitz: (15:25)
Maybe this will touch on what you just announced about this work plan on systemic racism, but earlier today, NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, said that Donald Trump had done more to directly address police brutality than your own government. And I wonder if in this work plan is going to come specific instruction to your ministers with regards to the RCMP and with regards to police brutality?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (15:45)
As I said, we need to end systemic racism in this country, and that includes looking carefully at what happens in our police forces, and changing the protocols and ways that our police forces operate. The minister Blair is engaged in looking specifically at that working with partners and ensuring that we do make substantive changes to how policing is delivered across this country, alongside many other things that need to be addressed to go at the systemic racism that exists throughout Canada, whether it’s justice reform, whether it’s access to capital for black entrepreneurs, whether it’s support for indigenous businesses, whether it’s ensuring that we’re allowing access to childcare and support services right across the country for vulnerable communities. These are things that we as an entire government are going to be working on because we need to take the right action in concert with vulnerable communities, working with them, listening to them, but we need to do it quickly as well, and that’s what we’re focused on.
Thomas Molly: (16:51)
Prime Minister, Molly Thomas CTV National News. The Auditor General says the CBSA has lost track of tens of thousands of people that were set for deportation. Most are rejected asylum seekers, many for criminal reasons. What is going on here and what is the plan to fix this?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (17:07)
Canada has a strong immigration system, and we ensure that the rules are applied. I want to thank the Auditor General for highlighting challenges at the CBSA in ensuring that we’re getting things exactly right. And we will work on the recommendations put forward. We will make sure that we were doing a better job of ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. We will be looking very closely and following the recommendations made by the Auditor General.
Thomas Molly: (17:36)
No plan specifically? I’m trying to start my second question, in December, the finance minister said the estimated deficit would be 28 billion. We’re looking, what we’re hearing, it looks like it could be 10 times that. Do you feel the spending has gotten out of control or are you looking at extending emergency programs?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (17:55)
We made a very specific and deliberate choice throughout this pandemic to help Canadians to [inaudible 00:18:03].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (18:03)
…throughout this pandemic, to help Canadians, to recognize it overnight people had lost their jobs. People had suddenly found themselves in a precarious situation and needed support. So as a federal government, given the historically low interest rates and the low debt servicing costs that we have, and given our extremely strong fiscal position going in, we decided to take on that debt to prevent Canadians from having to do it. If the federal government hadn’t taken on significant debt in order to send money to Canadians, to support businesses and households, what would the Canadians have done? They would have loaded up their credit cards. They would have scrambled to try and find ways to pay their bills and pay their groceries and figure out how to care for their loved ones. We took on debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to, and we can be confident about our position because it worked to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we now have the spread largely under control, although we need to continue to remain vigilant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (19:14)
We went into this challenge with a far better fiscal position than many of our allies around the world, which allows us to come through it in a very strong way. And we know that by supporting Canadians through this pandemic, we maximize our chances of getting back on our feet as quickly as possible as an economy. I know there are people out there who said we should have done less, but I think that’s wrong. Now was the time for the federal government to step up and help Canadians during a historic crisis and that’s exactly what we did and having done that has allowed us to get the virus more under control and is allowing us to restart the economy in a strong position, unlike many of our other allies.
Speaker 4: (20:07)
[foreign language 00:02:11].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:11)
Move me to the phone operator, please.
Speaker 5: (20:14)
Merci, please press star one on your telephone keypad if you have a question. [foreign language 00:20:23].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:30)
Thank you. Hello, Mr. Prime Minister. Regarding what Molly asked, we know that the deficit that’s going to be announced by Mr. Moreno will be historic. What do you have to say to Canadians who might be shocked by this amount? They may be concerned that Canada is living beyond its means with its credit cards.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:50)
Answer: I think that Canadians need to remember first and foremost, that we came into this pandemic better place than a lot of our allies. We had the lowest debt to GDP ratio of all G-7 countries and so we were able to invest without having an impact on our fiscal stability. Also, interest rates are at a historic low and so our capacity to pay back this debt will be manageable in the coming years. Also, compared to other countries, we are very well placed economically and regarding the management of COVID-19. We were able to help Canadians stay home. We allowed them to protect themselves for months so that now we have the virus under control. We need to stay vigilant, of course. We need to stop a potential second wave. We did what we needed to do in order to allow Canadians to restart the economy gradually. But we also need to ask ourselves a question, had we not invested to help Canadians, what would Canadians have done? They would have had to put a lot of spending on their credit cards. They would have had to re-mortgage their houses. A lot of companies would have had to close their doors forever. At the federal level, we have a low rate of borrowing and we know that we’re doing the right thing and that our economy will be able to bounce back.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (22:58)
Follow up question: That said, how are you going to pay for this? Our credit rating decreased, are you going to increase taxes? What’s your plan?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (23:19)
To increase taxes or cutting in services, these would be the worst options. We don’t want to continue spending and slow the economic restart. We’re not going to limit the help that we need to give to Canadians. We need to create jobs, we need to create economic growth, and that is exactly what we’re going to do. But we also need to remember that we’re facing this situation like other countries, but we’re better off than some those countries. All of these countries had to invest to help their country but Canada came into this stronger than other countries. We were also able to better control the virus than our allies, specifically our neighbor. So this allows us to restart our economy more quickly and more successfully than others who are still struggling actively with this virus. We are doing the right thing to help Canadians, and because of this, our economy will be able to restart more quickly and more strongly than a lot of our allies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (24:41)
Next question over the phone.
Speaker 5: (24:43)
Thank you. Merci. Next question. Rosemary Barton, CDC. Line open.
Rosemary Barton: (24:50)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Thanks for taking our questions. I know today we’re going to hear more about the state of the economy in terms of the decisions you’ve already taken, but I’m interested in knowing more about what decisions you have yet to take in terms of the recovery. Can you explain to Canadians why the recovery and stimulus that might be needed on the other side of this is going to be different or how it will be different than it was during the last recession?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (25:15)
Well, I think obviously this recession is very different from the last recession. The challenges our economy are facing are linked to a public health emergency, a pandemic that has very, very different impacts on the economy than previous challenges faced over the past decades. That’s why we’re very much focused on holding things in place on supporting Canadians so that they can make it through and protect their loved ones and protect our frontline workers and protect our vulnerable populations by giving them the support they need over these past months. That’s what we chose to do. We’re beginning to see the economy restart. And before we get into the full recovery and how we build back better, we need to make sure we are managing through the transition towards restarting. There are many Canadians getting back to work these weeks. There are many others who are still in a position where they can’t find jobs. That’s what we’re very much focused on right now because we’re still very much in a urgent phase of this pandemic and this crisis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:28)
Following up, Rosemary.
Rosemary Barton: (26:30)
Yeah, if I could just follow up. One of the things that the pandemic has done obviously is exposed the most vulnerable in our society and the broad inequities that exist. How do you think the economy will look different in order to address some of those vulnerabilities and help those who have been most hurt by this?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:50)
I think there are going to be really important discussions and indeed political debates about that and about what our economy looks like for the coming years, in the coming months. But I can tell you that from the very beginning we focused-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:03)
But I can tell you that from the very beginning, we focused on helping all Canadians with a particular focus on the most vulnerable Canadians. Canadians who didn’t have access to EI and lost their jobs. Canadians who need to rely on shelters, whether it’s people fleeing domestic violence, which was increased by the need to stay home or people who are already living in the streets. We needed to increase our support for food banks. We need to make sure that indigenous communities that are so vulnerable to health crises because of a lack of health system supports were extra protected. Throughout this pandemic, even as we sent out support to more than 11 million Canadians, we had a specific focus on the most vulnerable. Because that’s just who we are as Canadians. But also because we know that allowing and encouraging and giving the ability of everyone to participate of reducing barriers as we move forward is going to be extremely important. I look forward to those discussions. Right now we’re still very much focused on helping people through this crisis.
Speaker 6: (28:14)
Thank you. We’ll take one last question on the floor.
Stephanie Levitz: (28:20)
Busy day domestically, of course, but down in DC, we have the president, US President Donald Trump and Mexican counterpart having a meeting. You spoke to the Mexican president this week. Do you have plans to speak to Donald Trump after this meeting and will you be discussing aluminum tariffs with him?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:35)
I speak reasonably regularly and have over the past many years with the US president and look forward to congratulating him and all of us on the coming into force of the new NAFTA, the USMCA. I think it’s really important that at a time of economic strain and stress, we continue to have access to the world’s most important market. This is good for Canadian workers and Canadian jobs right across the country.
Stephanie Levitz: (29:05)
I wonder if I could just ask-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:06)
At the same time we are concerned about the threat of extra tariffs on aluminum and possibly steel. This is something that again is a little bit difficult to understand because the United States relies heavily on imports of Canadian aluminum in particular for their domestic manufacturing capacity. The US doesn’t make nearly enough aluminum to be able to cover its needs, particularly at a time where we want the economies to get going again across North America.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (29:40)
What tariffs would do would be to raise prices for manufacturers in the United States and put extra stress on them at a time where the stress is abound, which is why we are continuing to push very hard on encouraging the US to not move forward on tariffs that we don’t think have any justification and will have negative impacts.
Stephanie Levitz: (30:06)
I wonder if I could just ask you to repeat in French the answer you gave to Rosie about what you’re thinking about going forward in terms of what these programs may or may not look like.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:14)
[Foreign language 00:30:16].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:19)
From the beginning, we knew that we had to help Canadians, specifically vulnerable Canadians. That’s why from the start we helped 11 million Canadians through the CERB and the wage subsidy. We focused on the most vulnerable, but we also helped food banks. We helped shelters for victims of domestic violence. There was assistance for indigenous communities. We know that during any crisis, the most vulnerable are those that feel the impact the most and we wanted to take care of these most vulnerable. There will be discussions, political debates on how to restart the economy so that it is stronger for Canadians. But I have to say that at the heart of what we’re going to do, we will always have the most vulnerable Canadians in mind. We want everyone to be able to participate fully to the economy. We want to reduce barriers, and we want to eliminate these barriers in our system. We will always do more for vulnerable Canadians because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is this smart thing to do in order to create jobs and economic growth. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. This concludes today’s press conference. (silence)