Mar 18, 2020

Justin Trudeau Coronavirus Briefing Transcript: Canada and US Close Border Officially

Justin Trudeau Coronavirus Update Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsJustin Trudeau Coronavirus Briefing Transcript: Canada and US Close Border Officially

In a mutual agreement, the US and Canada have agreed to close their border, which is the longest border in the world. This will not affect trade or essential goods. Read the full transcript of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s address.

Justin Trudeau: (00:00)
… so simple. Just like if you work in the oil and gas sector or the tourism and seafood industries, you’re looking at the uncertainty in the global economy and probably wondering not only how long this is going to last, but how long your savings are going to last. No matter who you are or what you do, this is a time where you should be focused on your health and that of your neighbors, not whether you’re going to lose your job, not whether you’re going to run out of money for things like groceries and medication. Last week, we announced a whole range of measures to protect jobs, small businesses and the economy from waiving the waiting period for employment insurance, sickness benefits to kick in to increasing support for employers and businesses. We introduced special measures under the work sharing program to help employers who fall on hard times during COVID-19 and if your business faces a cash crunch, we will help you bridge to better times.

Justin Trudeau: (01:03)
We’re working with our financial crown corporations through the business credit availability program to protect jobs and businesses with $10 billion in credit. [foreign language 00:01:14].

Justin Trudeau: (01:26)
In these extraordinary times, our government is taking extraordinary measures. The measures we’re announcing today will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses plus 55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy. Combined, this $82 billion in support represents more than 3% of Canada’s GDP. Let’s start with people who don’t qualify for employment insurance and don’t have access to paid sick leave. Our government will introduce the emergency care benefit, which will provide money every two weeks to workers who have to stay home. People will receive this benefit for 14 weeks for an amount comparable to what would be paid through EI.

Justin Trudeau: (02:25)
This applies to people who fall ill, people who’ve been placed in quarantine or have to self isolate. It also applies to those who have to take care of a family member with COVID-19 but as I said, fail to qualify for EI. If you lose your job and you do not qualify for EI, we will be introducing a COVID-19 emergency support benefit to help you. This will apply also to people who are self employed and have to close shop because of the virus.

Justin Trudeau: (02:57)
[foreign language 00: 02:57].

Justin Trudeau: (03:59)
As part of this economic plan, our government will take additional steps to protect jobs. We will provide employers of small businesses with a temporary wage subsidy equal to 10% of salary paid to employees for a period of three months. This will encourage employers to keep staff on the payroll during these uncertain times.

Justin Trudeau: (04:22)
[foreign language 00:04: 22].

Justin Trudeau: (04:43)
We’re in the middle of tax season and I know a lot of people are wondering what COVID-19 means for their personal finances. For those who’ve filed their taxes and find out that they owe money, they will have until August 2020 to pay.

Justin Trudeau: (04:59)
[foreign language 00:04: 59].

Justin Trudeau: (05:26)
Families with young kids are going to find the coming months especially difficult with school closures and additional childcare responsibilities. Parents already know how much the Canada Child Benefit helps with the costs of raising kids. To take some of that pressure off, our government will temporarily boost the CCB in the coming months.

Justin Trudeau: (05:48)
[foreign language 00:05:49].

Justin Trudeau: (05:59)
With this plan, we’re also going to do more for lower income people. In May, our government will supplement the GST credit, a tax free payment sent to low income Canadians every few months to offset the consumer tax that they pay. Every adult who qualifies will receive up to $300 with $150 for every child.

Justin Trudeau: (06:22)
[foreign language 00:06:23]. While all Canadians are feeling the impacts of COVID-19, some groups are particularly vulnerable. For people who are still paying off their student loans, including young people and those who are starting a family, our government will put in place a six month interest free moratorium on their Canada student loans. For people experiencing homelessness, we are doubling the reaching home program which provides funding to communities to help them address their local needs.

Justin Trudeau: (07:11)
For anyone fleeing domestic or gender based violence, we will boost funding for shelters that provide sanctuary when self isolating at home is simply not an option. And to support immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Metis nation communities, we were setting up a distinctions- based indigenous community support fund. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the things our government is doing to make sure that no matter where you live, what you do or who you are, you will get the support you need during this time.

Justin Trudeau: (07:50)
In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations.

Justin Trudeau: (07:58)
[foreign language 00:07: 58]. Now I want to turn to additional measures for businesses as part of this economic plan. To help businesses navigate these uncertain economic times, Export Development Canada will provide support to Canadian companies affected by the global situation. For farmers and our primary food producers, we will boost Farm Credit Canada and we know some sectors of our economy are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. That’s why in the coming days we’ll be looking at ways in which we can support them all, including through instruments like the Canada Account.

Justin Trudeau: (09:09)
[foreign language 00:09: 08].

Justin Trudeau: (09:36)
Our team is paying close attention to the economic impacts of decisions we make across the board to slow the spread of this virus. On Monday, I announced that Canada was closing its air borders to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with some exceptions. We also announced a range of other measures on travel, but travel restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade. We are working continuously to ensure the supply.

Justin Trudeau: (10:03)
… or trade. We are working continuously to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada. Today, we’ve announced $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households to help stabilize the economy through tax deferrals. Economic measures will ensure that our economy rebounds after this. And while we are taking a significant step today to help families get through these challenging times, our government is prepared to do more.

Justin Trudeau: (10:38)
But whether we’re talking about economic, travel, or health measures, collaboration and coordination remains essential. Our team is in constant communication with our colleagues in the provinces and territories, as well as Indigenous leaders and communities, to ensure that we have a coordinated, Canada-wide approach so we face this and recover from this together.

Justin Trudeau: (11:03)
We’re also working with our international counterparts. Over the last number of days I have spoken with leaders from around the world, including with fellow G7 leaders. Working together is how we’ll get through this, as families, as a community, as a country.

Justin Trudeau: (11:21)
Like many of you, over the past few days, I have seen stories of people doing just that. Of people donating money to food banks to help those in need. Of friends setting up online groups to chat. Of retired nurses and doctors stepping up to help. Of young people giving a hand to elderly neighbors by dropping off some extra groceries at their door. I have to tell you, it gives me a lot of hope.

Justin Trudeau: (11:49)
I want to close by recognizing everyone on the front lines who’s doing an incredible job of keeping Canadians safe and healthy. Grocers keeping their shelves full and our families fed. Postal workers helping us stay home. Pharmacists filling our prescriptions. Health care professionals caring for our most vulnerable. Public health officials and first responders looking out for our safety.

Justin Trudeau: (12:16)
I know it’s a hard time, but that’s exactly why we need to keep supporting each other. Our government is here for you, and your fellow Canadians are here for you, too. Merci, thank you everyone.

Justin Trudeau: (12:32)
Just before we get to questions, I’m supposed to model healthy behavior. I’m going to go grab my coat, and I’ll be right back.

Justin Trudeau: (12:55)
It’s nice and sunny, but a little brisk.

Annie Bergeron-Oliver: (12:58)
A little cold. Hello, Mr. Trudeau. It’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver from CTV National News. I’m just wondering what assurances do you have from President Trump that if this pandemic gets worse, he will not close the borders, crippling trade and necessary shipments in Canada? And also, how long do you expect this temporary closure to last? Will it be weeks, or are you planning for months?

Justin Trudeau: (13:20)
We talked about exactly that this morning, President Trump and I, to ensure that indeed our economies and our people that are so interconnected in so many different ways will be able to ensure the smooth flow of goods and essential materials and medication across the border. That is something that we remain committed to. We will work in close collaboration on an ongoing basis to make sure that that continues. And these measures will last in place as long as we feel that they need to last. We will, again, closely coordinate on that as well.

Speaker 1: (13:58)
[French 00:03:58].

Justin Trudeau: (13:59)
[French 00: 04:17].

Olivia Stefanovich: (14:03)
Olivia Stefanovich, CBC News. Prime Minister, with all these economic measures being announced, is it inevitable that we’re heading into a recession?

Justin Trudeau: (15:16)
I think right now we are focused on making sure that people who are not getting income or revenue because of this COVID-19 challenge have the money to be able to pay for groceries, to pay their rent, to support their families through this difficult time. We recognize that many businesses are closed. Many workplaces have significant slowdowns, if not stoppages, and that is going to have an economic impact.

Justin Trudeau: (15:45)
But we also know that the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are strong, and in a number of weeks or a number of months, or however long it takes, once we get rolling again, the capacity of the federal government to invest in the economy, to support businesses and individuals, will ensure that we bounce back strongly. We have the fiscal room to do this because of prudent decision-making over the past five years. We will be able to ensure that our economy gets back up to speed very quickly.

Speaker 2: (16:55)
[ French 00:06:17].

Justin Trudeau: (16:59)
[French 00: 06:34].

Maura Forrest: (17:10)
Maura Forrest, Politico. Prime Minister, yesterday you talked about the possibility of invoking the Emergencies Act. Today you’re saying that the Canada-U.S. border will be closed to nonessential travel. How close are you at this point to imposing restrictions across Canada, and specifically, are you considering limiting travel within Canada as well?

Justin Trudeau: (17:28)
I have said time and time again that we are looking at all options. We are not taking any options off the table. Every day, we’ve been announcing new measures that we’ve been able to move forward on, and we will continue to look at measures as they become necessary, and the tools that exist to make those measures necessary. I will highlight, of course, that the Emergency Measures Act is a significant step, not one that we feel we need today, but not one that we are closing the door to in the future if necessary.

Speaker 3: (18:01)
[French 00:08:01].

Justin Trudeau: (18:11)
Okay. [French 00:08:04].

Marco Vigliotti: (18:17)
Marco Vigliotti, iPolitics. Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve rolled out or talked about a lot of economic and stimulus measures that you’re planning to put in force. What kind of reassurances can you give to Canadians at this time that the government has the infrastructure in place and the people in place, considering the directive to work from home, that this money will roll out in a timely and efficient manner?

Justin Trudeau: (19:09)
There are many families across this country who are looking at their sources of income dry up because of COVID-19. Many of them qualify for EI. Many workers qualify for EI, and we’re making sure that with the elimination of the one-week waiting period, that money will be able to flow significantly and quickly to them.

Justin Trudeau: (19:31)
Many families do not qualify for EI. Many workers do not qualify for EI, and therefore we’re putting in place exceptional measures that will flow money to them every two weeks. Our capacity to do this is something that we have spent a lot of time over the past days ensuring because we know that that could make the difference not just between one family facing tougher times or not, but it could make a difference on the health of all Canadians. People need to be able-

Justin Trudeau: (20:03)
… On the health of all Canadians. People need to be able to self isolate, need to be able to stay home, need to be able to care for their families when their ordinary sources of revenue dry up. That is why we’re putting forward $27 million in direct supports to Canadians and businesses. That is why we are moving forward on freeing up $55 billion that will stay in the economy because of delayed tax payments, to make sure that people can cover the things they need to in the coming days. Along with all our extra measures for shelters, for indigenous communities through the Canada child benefit and others that will ensure that Canadians have the confidence that they will be okay through this difficult time because we are all in this together and we are there for you.

Speaker 4: (20:52)
[foreign language 00:00:53].

Speaker 5: (20:55)
Thank you [foreign language 00:20:59] The first question is from [foreign language 00:01:03] please go ahead.

Speaker 6: (21:07)
[foreign language 00:01: 18].

Justin Trudeau: (22:08)
[foreign language 00:01:35].

Justin Trudeau: (22:12)
We recognize that we took some significant steps over the past few days. We closed the borders to overseas travel on Monday. And today, two days later we announce that we are restricting nonessential travel between Canada and the United States. This is something that we’ve been coordinating with the United States on over the past days. Yesterday, the deputy prime minister Freeland reached out to Vice President Pence, to really advance these negotiations. And were able to announce it in a coordinated fashion on both sides of the border this morning. This is something that we need to move forward on to protect Canadians.

Speaker 4: (22:55)
[foreign language 00:02:55].

Speaker 5: (22:59)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:23:00]. The next question is from Bill [Curry 00:23:03] from the Globe and Mail. Please go ahead. [foreign language 00:03:06].

Speaker 7: (23:07)
Hi, Prime Minister. We’re seeing in the United States, some law makers are discussing the possibility of sending direct checks to all Americans as a way of… you sacrifice targeting those most in need. But the benefit is it gets there faster. And so you’ve gone with some existing programs that might involve people kind of doing it through government and applying for these programs that could sacrifice speed. So can you talk about your thought process in going with this route as opposed to something like direct checks that might be simpler.

Justin Trudeau: (23:37)
I know the finance minister is about to give a press conference in which he will answer many of these questions. But I can say that we are confident that getting these measures out, particularly around EI and folks who don’t qualify for EI, within the next few weeks to compensate for lost income, is going to make a significant difference to people who had an income but have seen it dry up over these days because of Covid 19. Many people on pensions, or benefits, or supports of various types will of course still receive those supports.

Justin Trudeau: (24:17)
We really wanted to target those people who would lose their income specifically. We’ve also put on the table significant support for businesses and employers to be able to support their workers, to be able to support their fellow Canadians. These are the kinds of things that we’re moving with both quickly and in a targeted fashion because that’s what Canadians expect.

Speaker 4: (24:36)
[foreign language 00:24:41].

Speaker 5: (24:36)
[foreign language 00:04:43] Thank you. The next question is from [foreign language 00:04:46] Please go ahead.

Speaker 8: (24:49)
[foreign language 00:24:51].

Justin Trudeau: (24:49)
[foreign language 00:25:20].

Speaker 4: (24:49)
[foreign language 00:26:27].

Speaker 5: (26:30)
[foreign language 00:26:29], Thank you. The next question is from Heather Scolfield from Toronto Star. Please go ahead. [foreign language 00:26:34].

Speaker 9: (26:36)
Good morning, Prime Minister. In terms of working with the opposition, and having to pass some of these steps through them. Have you been in touch with the opposition leaders, and do you have their assurance that they will cooperate with you to move quickly?

Justin Trudeau: (26:51)
Our house leaders have been working together very closely, both on the house side and on the Senate side. Minister Pablo Rodriguez and Senator Mark Gold have been engaged with all party leaders, both in the house and the Senate. There is broad collaboration. There is broad openness to moving these measures quickly that will help Canadians who need it.

Justin Trudeau: (27:16)
I am confident that this is a moment in which Canadians of all parties will pull together to ensure Canadians get the help they need.