Mar 20, 2020
Justin Trudeau Coronavirus Update for Canada March 20: Canada Turning Away Asylum Seekers
Justin Trudeau held a March 20 COVID-19 update for the country of Canada. He said Canada plans to turn back asylum seekers and officially close the border at midnight tonight. Read the full transcript here.
Justin Trudeau: (00:10)
Hello everyone. [French 00:00:11]
Speaker 2: (00:11)
Words about traveling. We’re in talks with Canadian Airlines.
Justin Trudeau: (01:09)
We’re in discussion with Canadian Airlines to help Canadians stranded abroad come home. We will have more details to share, but the first flight will be picking up Canadians from Morocco this weekend. As I announced Wednesday, Canada and the United States have agreed to stop nonessential travel specifically for tourism and recreation. Trade and commerce will continue. This takes effect at midnight tonight and Minister Blair will give more details today. Further, today Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada/US border.
Justin Trudeau: (03:05)
This week many businesses put their hand up and asked us what they can do, so today we’re announcing a new strategy that will make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time. We are launching Canada’s plan to mobilize industry to fight Covid-19 to ensure that we can quickly produce here in Canada the things we need. This initiative will help companies that are already making things like masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer to massively scale up production.
Justin Trudeau: (03:39)
It will also provide support for those who want to retool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight. For example, the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association reached out to us asking how they could help. Our healthcare professionals really need support, so our government will help these companies shift production from auto parts to medical supplies. We’re also close to reach agreements with several other companies, including Thornhill Medical and Spartan Bioscience. Minister Bains and Minister Anand will have more to say on this later today.
Justin Trudeau: (04:17)
Our government is also creating new innovative procurement streams to allow more businesses to develop solutions and products Canadians need because of Covid-19. We will expedite these streams so firms can get to work quickly and these products are ready to use as soon as possible. Canada is home to some of the best innovators in the world, and with this new initiative we will harness their talent and knowhow to get through these challenging times.
Justin Trudeau: (04:48)
Over the past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received a historic number of calls from concerned Canadians. We received over 500,000 applications so far this week compared to just under 27,000 applications for the same week last year. I know people are anxious to get the help they deserve, and our government is working as fast as possible to support them. This is of course an unprecedented situation and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our system, but we’re on it. Thousands of public servants are working around the clock to help you.
Justin Trudeau: (07:06)
I know this past week has been hard on people for many reasons. Working from home while the kids are running around, not being able to visit your parents at their nursing home, not hanging out with your friends. It can take its toll, but it is in these challenging times that we also see what we’re made of. This past week, no matter how difficult, was further proof that Canadians are generous, kind, and compassionate and that should give us all hope.
Justin Trudeau: (07:36)
We all understand our responsibility as Canadians. We have to do the right thing, whether it’s working from home or practicing social distancing to protect our nurses, doctors, and everyone who works in our healthcare system. To deal with this crisis we need everyone, citizens, businesses, and governments to come together and do their part. That’s what we’ve seen right across the country. I want to thank all the workers who are stepping up and all the workers, all the companies who are making things our country needs. If you own a business and you’re wondering what you can do, reach out. We need your help. Canadians need your help, and our government is ready to work with you to maximize your impact.
Justin Trudeau: (08:25)
I will end this morning by addressing all those celebrating Newroz today and this past week. This is usually a time when friends and families gather around the Haft-seen table and share a festive meal, but this year is a bit different. To the many families who’ve been spending their first Newroz without loved ones lost in the Ukraine International Airlines tragedy, know that all Canadians morn with you. I also know that many have had to postpone festivities because of Covid-19, and I want to thank you for that as well. Social distancing is crucial in limiting the spread of the virus, and we do this now, soon we will be able to celebrate together.
Justin Trudeau: (09:06)
In the meantime, I want to wish you all a very happy New Year. [Foreign language 00:09:11]. And I look forward to marking the occasion with you again in the future.
Molly Thomas: (09:23)
Hi, Prime Minister. Molly Thomas, CTV National News. You said that you’re working with private companies to mass manufacturer of ventilators, masks, and tests. I mean, how fast can a private company actually produce ventilators, for example, up to standard and can this keep up with the rate of what we’re seeing? 50 new cases in Ontario already today.
Justin Trudeau: (09:42)
We know that Canadian companies are among the most innovative and agile in the world, and we are very confident that we’re going to be able to work with them to respond to the pressing needs in our healthcare system.
Molly Thomas: (11:08)
Is there any timeline on that?
Justin Trudeau: (11:08)
Okay. [French 00:10:01]
Molly Thomas: (11:08)
Is there any timeline on that?
Justin Trudeau: (11:25)
Speaker 4: (11:25)
Mr. Trudeau, [French 00:10:23]
Speaker 5: (11:25)
Justin Trudeau: (11:26)
Okay. We recognize that the efforts we are going through are unprecedented. These are historic times in which we need to do everything we can to support Canadians and mobilize all our efforts in smart ways. There are people who are talking about a historical echoes, whether it was war time or great depression. We’re focused on doing what we need to do right now. We know that Canada has never faced a situation like this, and we will face through it together.
Olivia Stefanovich: (11:53)
Morning, Prime Minister. Olivia Stefanovich, CBC news. California is under an official state lockdown to deal with Covid-19. Why isn’t Canada putting stricter measures in place to ensure or enforce that people practice social distancing and do a self isolation, and is Canada considering following California’s lead with a lockdown?
Justin Trudeau: (12:11)
We are seeing Canadians right across the country take on social distancing, take on measures that are protecting citizens. We know there’s always more to do and we will continue to work to encourage people to stay home, to practice social distancing, not just to protect themselves but also to protect our healthcare workers and the system that is working so hard to keep so many Canadians safe and healthy. This is something we’re going to continue to look for. We will always be open to taking new measures, but we are continuing to impress upon Canadians how important it is to do just that
Olivia Stefanovich: (12:49)
Is Canada considering a lockdown?
Justin Trudeau: (12:51)
We are looking at all possible different measures. As I’ve said repeatedly, nothing is off the table. We will continue to announce [inaudible 00:13:00] become necessary. Right now I want to congratulate and thank the millions upon millions of Canadians who are using social distance [inaudible 00:13:10] and diligence [inaudible 00:13:12] self safe, and to keep health [inaudible 00:13:27].
Peter Van Dusen: (13:28)
All right. Peter Van Dusen listening along with you. Okay, looks like we’ve got it back. Let’s listen in again. Okay, so we’ve obviously had a technical breakup of the signal coming out of the Prime Minister’s address. That’s a real bad time for that to happen, no doubt as he takes questions from reporters. But let me quickly recap what we heard from Justin Trudeau and some significant developments here today. Border closes at midnight to all non-essential … Oh, okay. We’re going to try and see if we can make this work with a different camera. Let’s listen in.
Justin Trudeau: (14:04)
… On both sides are professionals who are very used to ensuring that people crossing the border are doing so the right way and for the right reasons. This is a particular situation, and I have every confidence that they will be able to respond appropriately to travelers. At the same time, I know that the message going out to people across North America is to stay home, is to not go visit your neighbors unless it’s absolutely necessary and that is simply the message that we are sharing, that people are understanding. It won’t necessarily take a border guard telling someone that. People will make decisions in consequence based on their own choices. I think that’s the point important part that we’re continuing to advise people about.
Speaker 9: (14:57)
Thank you, [French 00:14:59]. We will now be taking questions from the telephone lines. Our first question, [French 00:15:03] David Ljunggren with Reuters Ottawa, please go ahead. [French 00:15:08].
David Ljunggren: (15:09)
Yes. Thank you, Prime Minister. Do you think Canadian athletes should go to the Tokyo Olympics even if the games are not called off?
Justin Trudeau: (15:16)
I think that’s an important question that many athletes and coaches and family members are asking themselves. Athletes continue to train [inaudible 00:15:28] further decisions around the Tokyo Olympics that won’t happen for a few more months. I have heard directly from Prime Minister Abe that he is intent on continuing to hold these Olympics, and I congratulate him for that decision, but obviously a Canadian athletes and the Canadian Olympic team will be making its decision as we got a little closer. [French 00:15:59]
Justin Trudeau: (16:29)
[crosstalk 00:16:29] is from Emily [inaudible 00:16:30]. Please go ahead, [French 00:16:31].
Speaker 9: (16:31)
Thank you. Our next question. [French 00:17:41]. It’s from Justin Lang. Please go ahead. [French 00:17:44]
Justin Lang: (17:46)
Hi, Prime Minster. There is concern that prison and detention facilities are particularly risky vectors for transmitting Covid-19. Some States and other countries have done things to reduce the prison population. Is Canada considering that? And secondarily, yesterday your plan was to detain migrants crossing into Canada in federal facilities. Now you’re planning to send them back to the US where they may be interned in ICE detention facilities and potentially even deported back to South America. Is that wise?
Justin Trudeau: (18:19)
First of all, on Corrections Canada, I can assure you that the Minister of Public Safety is engaged with the head of Corrections Canada to take measures to keep our incarcerated population safe. That is something that we are looking at very carefully and we understand the heightened risks in those institutions.
Justin Trudeau: (18:38)
In regards to the agreement we just worked out over the past 24 hours with the Americans, we recognize that these are exceptional times and someone who comes to the border to request asylum will be turned back to American authorities, as happens right now when someone comes to an official border crossing and requests asylum, we turn them over to American authorities at the border where they are released almost immediately into the United States.
Justin Trudeau: (19:14)
They are, for the most part, people who are legally in the United States and that is something we are confident about. We also have ensured that we are comfortable with this process as being in line with Canada’s values on the treatment of refugees and vulnerable people. [inaudible 00:19:33] Okay.
Speaker 9: (19:34)
Thank you. [French 00:20:15] Our last question is from Mary [inaudible 00:20:20]. Please go ahead. [French 00:20:21]
Peter Van Dusen: (22:14)
All right. Peter Van Dusen watching along with you here, some significant measures to talk about.