Nov 24, 2020
Justin Trudeau November 24 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave remarks on COVID-19 on November 24. Read the full transcript of his press briefing speech here.
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Justin Trudeau: (07:28)
[foreign language 00:07: 28]. Hello everyone.
Good morning, everyone.
Justin Trudeau: (07:30)
Over the weekend, we’ve seen Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta all report new single day highs of COVID-19. Just yesterday, P.E.I and Newfoundland and Labrador left the Atlantic bubble as cases increase on the West Coast. And a few days ago, our government approved a request for assistance to deploy in a long-term care home in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba. As they always do, our brave women and men in uniform are stepping up again to support Canadians and help provinces get the situation under control. The cases we are seeing are extremely concerning and the federal government will continue to be there for people and small businesses every step of the way. As of yesterday, applications opened for the newly launched Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. If you own a small business, you could get up to 65% of your business’s rent covered, and that goes directly to you, not through your landlord.
Justin Trudeau: (08:32)
If your community is in lockdown, we’re adding an extra 25% help for commercial rent through the new lockdown support. Combined with the rent subsidy, you could have up to 90% of your rent covered. To help with another big expense for business, payroll, the wage subsidy has also been extended until June of next year. These programs are just some of the many measures we’ve introduced to have the backs of business owners and workers alike through this second wave. Go to canada.ca/coronavirus to find out what supports are there for you. We know that the second wave had the potential to get really serious really fast, and we also knew that we had to be ready to do whatever it takes to get it under control because at the end of the day, lives are at stake. I know you get that. I know you’re worried about the people around you.
Justin Trudeau: (09:28)
Last Tuesday, I got an email from Jackie in Edmonton. Jackie’s worried about her husband who works in the school system. She’s worried about her grandparents and parents in law who are in long-term care homes. She’s worried about her kids. Jackie, I hear you. You’re right, this is a tough time, and I want you to know that you’re not in this alone. Our government’s top priority is to keep Canadians safe. That’s why every step of the way, we’ve been supporting the provinces so that they can make the right decisions for you. Our supports for businesses and for people mean that local officials don’t have to choose between people’s health or the economy. We’ve been supporting with supplies as well. As of last week, we’ve sent over 300,000 rapid tests to Alberta and 444,000 face masks.
Justin Trudeau: (10:25)
The federal government has also provided $1.3 billion to the province for everything from PPE to contact tracers through the Safe Restart Agreement with another $260 million for schools in Alberta through the Safe Return to Class Fund. And that’s just some of the support we’ve made available for people and businesses in Alberta, just like for everyone across the country. No matter where you live, we will continue to be there for you through this second wave and beyond. [foreign language 00:10:58].
Our main priority is ensuring Canadians-
Our main priority is ensuring Canadians safety. Whether that means buying more PPE, increasing contact tracing, or investing in research, that is what we are working on. Since last week, we have provided over 2.9 million pairs of gloves to provinces and territories and more is coming. We also sent 4.6 rapid tracing tests and millions of more are on their way. People need these tests and they need this essential assistance out in the field. We’re going to continue to do our part and provide them with the material they need over the coming months and weeks. It is essential to purchase and distribute PPE and rapid tracing tests. It’s also important to find a vaccine that is safe and effective. If we are to conquer COVID-19 no later than yesterday, we got promising news about the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine. Canada has already negotiated an agreement to receive up to 20 million doses.
That vaccine is part of our spectrum of potential vaccines for Canadians. When we do have a vaccine, the right material to administer, it will also be essential up till now. We have received over 24 million syringes and needles and others will be delivered every week. This is all part of the strategy we set up to be ready when the vaccine is ready. We know that not everyone will be vaccinated at the same time. We’re going to have to establish some priorities. Everything we’re doing now is going to help us vaccinate Canadians as quickly as possible.
Justin Trudeau: (12:48)
We need access to as many potential vaccines and treatments as possible. Today, I can announce that we’ve signed a deal to secure up to 26,000 doses of a therapeutic drug from Eli Lilly with options for thousands more. This treatment was developed in partnership with Vancouver’s Abcellera Biologics, and as part of our support for researchers right here at home, who are working around the clock to find a treatment for COVID-19. To the scientists and researchers across the country, thank you for everything you do. Just like always, your dedication and expertise is making Canadians healthier and safety safer. Just building a better tomorrow. Canada is lucky to have thousands of world-class scientists and researchers. As a government, we will continue to be there every step of the way to support you in the work you do. [foreign language 00:02:48].
Today, I can tell you that we have negotiated an agreement to reserve up to 26,000 doses of an Eli Lilly therapeutic with the possibility of receiving thousands more. This treatment was developed in partnership with Abcellera Biologics in Vancouver, including, partly thanks to the support we offered researchers that are working hard to find a treatment right here in the country. We’re going to continue to support our researchers and our scientists who spare no effort to find a safe and effective treatment against this virus. I wish to thank them for everything they’re doing for their country and for the whole world.
Justin Trudeau: (14:29)
… promising vaccine candidates that we’ve heard in the past few days is reason to be hopeful. Our government has worked hard to secure tens of millions of doses. We’re prepared once a safe, effective vaccine is ready for Canadians, but we cannot be complacent now. Remember if you catch COVID-19 this week, a vaccine in the coming months, won’t help you. We’ve seen restrictions increase across the country over the past few days, and Canadians are taking extra care to stay home. I want to remind you, nothing that we do today will bring the numbers down this week. This week’s numbers were already determined by behaviors last week and the week before. What we can effect today is what our country looks like a week, two weeks from now. Continue doing your part to keep yourself your family and your loved ones, safe. Stay at home, wear a mask, avoid social gatherings, especially indoors.
Justin Trudeau: (15:34)
Don’t forget to download the COVID-19 app. It’s easy, free and quick and it’s incredibly powerful. Just ask Sasha from Toronto. Sasha downloaded the app and two weeks ago, it notified him that he’d been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Sasha always wears his mask, sanitizes everything, and felt just fine, but he did the right thing and went in to get tested. Well, the test came back positive. He’d been asymptomatic the whole time. If Sasha hadn’t had COVID Alert, he would never have known, but because of the app he found out and then was able to self isolate and keep other people safe. He and his family are almost done their self isolation.
Justin Trudeau: (16:24)
They’ve said that they want everyone to know about their story, so that as many people as possible use the COVID Alert app. To Sasha and his wife, Kate, thank you for doing the right thing in getting the app, getting tested and then staying home. Thank you for sharing your story to encourage even more people to make the smart, responsible choice that you did. The more people download this app, the stronger it becomes. Joining the over 5.4 million Canadians who like Sasha have downloaded the COVID Alert app. [French language 00: 06:00].
The more people download this app, the stronger it becomes. Join the over 5.4 million Canadians who, like Sasha, have downloaded the COVID Alert app. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with students from the St Martha Catholic School in Kingston, Ontario with our local MP, Mark Gerritsen. I would like to conclude today by directly speaking to teachers and support staff who help us educate our children during this crisis. I know this year has been difficult. I know you’re going to continue to do everything you can to help our children, to educate our children. It’s really not easy. You’re putting your you’re placing yourselves at risk, but you’re going beyond everything to support our children and their parents. Thank you. I know what kind of commitment that requires. I know what you’re doing as teachers. I know what you do as teachers, and I assure you that all Canadians are profoundly grateful to you. Please continue your excellent work. Continue to be there for us as we will be here for you. Thank you. I would be pleased to take your questions now.
Speaker 2: (18:22)
Start on the phone with questions. One question, one follow-up. Operator.
Speaker 3: (18:25)
[French language 00:07:29].
Thank you. First question. [inaudible 00:07:32]. Question. “Hello. Good morning. Prime minister. When it comes to vaccines, your government talked about the first quarter of 2021, but other countries like the US are talking about possibly having a vaccine, even at the beginning of December. Can you please tell us when it’s going to begin in Canadians? What can you tell Canadians who are thinking they’re going to see Americans being vaccinated before we are?”
Answer. “As people may know, we do not have mass production capacity for vaccines in Canada. We did decades ago, but since that time, we no longer have domestic capacity. Other countries that do, such as the United States, great Britain, Germany, and others of course, are going to prioritize access to vaccines for their own citizens first. That is why our government did two things. Firstly, we are investing to redevelop a pharmaceutical industry here in Canada so that we can produce vaccines in the coming years, especially if ever there is another pandemic such as this one, we won’t be caught shorthanded as we did this time. Secondly, that is why we worked so hard to ensure that Canadians and Canada would have access to a vaccine. We signed more for more vaccines, for more millions of doses, than practically any other country. We will be here to ensure that Canadians do receive vaccines. We are working with those companies with partners to ensure that we receive them as quickly as possible, because we know we’re not going to get through this pandemic without a vaccine. We’re working on it.”
Justin Trudeau: (20:21)
… things to remember is Canada no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines. We used to have it decades ago, but we no longer have it countries like the United States, Germany and the UK, do have domestic pharmaceutical facilities, which is why they’re obviously going to prioritize helping their citizens first. Canada did two things over the past months. First of all, we’ve begun to invest once again in ensuring that Canada will have domestic vaccine production capacity, because we never want to be caught short again without the ability to support Canadians directly. That will be in place in the coming years. If ever there is another pandemic, we will not be caught on the wrong foot again.
Justin Trudeau: (21:12)
Secondly, that’s why recognizing the challenges we had around getting vaccines from other countries to Canada, the Canadian government signed a record number of agreements with vaccine producers, potential vaccine producers, around the world. We have reached out and have actually one of the very best vaccine portfolios of any country around the world with far more doses for Canadians, potentially, then we actually have Canadian population that’s because we don’t know which vaccines are going to be most effective, which ones are going to arrive early, but we have done everything we can to ensure that Canadians get these vaccines as quickly as possible and as effectively as possible. Of course, in all cases we are in for as a world…
Justin Trudeau: (22:03)
… in all cases, we are in for as a world, a number more months, where we have to do everything to keep our cases down before vaccines get here so that we are able to get through this as best as possible, which is why people need to continue to stay safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Speaker 4: (22:18)
A follow up question. Yes. With respect to the French language, Quebec is going to announce its intention to have its businesses file Bill 101. Last week, you said that you supported what Bill 101 was doing in Quebec. Are you going to allow that to happen at the federal level as well?
Answer. We’re going to see what’s going to be necessary to protect the French [inaudible 00:22:48] in Quebec and everywhere else in Canada, too. We’ve always cared about protecting the use of French and protecting official language minority communities across the country. We are going to take a look at Quebec’s proposals. I think it’s important to emphasize how much we wish to work hard to protect French. That’s what we’ve emphasized in the throne speech. And it’s going and we’re going to take a look at convex proposals and make our own decisions. Afterwards.
Speaker 5: (23:19)
Next question, Ryan Thomathy, National Post. Line open.
Ryan Thomathy: (23:25)
Yet, sir. Also on on the vaccine front, there’s been some confusion about exactly when your government will be ready to distribute vaccines. I know you can’t say for sure when you actually have them, but when will the government be ready to distribute those vaccines to provinces and territories and will the military be involved in that distribution?
Justin Trudeau: (23:48)
I think everyone is rightly focused on vaccines because we know that without a vaccine, we don’t get through this pandemic. And we are looking forward to being able to vaccinate Canadians in the coming months. We know that in order to know exactly which vaccines are going to be effective, we’re going to have to watch the trials carefully. We’re going to have to see the approvals process. We’re going to have to set up logistical streams to be able to deliver those vaccines to Canadians. And those are all things that we’re working on right now. But one of the reasons why we signed a range of agreements for vaccines with many different companies is because we know that not all vaccines are going to be equally effective. Some may face challenges around production and delivery. And we wanted to make sure that we were covering all the bases to ensure that Canadians would get them as quickly as possible and have them be as effective as possible.
Justin Trudeau: (24:45)
So we are working with a number of partners, including the Canadian military to ensure that as soon as vaccines arrive and are deemed safe, they will be distributed to Canadians. We’re making sure that we have the plan in place to as quickly as possible, but it is premature to start crossing out, circling dates on a calendar or saying that this vaccine is going to arrive in this amount on this day in this community. Because there’s still a lot of work to do between now and then, but we’re on it. Just like we’ve been on every element of protecting Canadians in this pandemic. [foreign language 00:25:24].
I think I understand why people wish to know more about vaccines as quickly as possible. It’s like at the beginning of this pandemic, everyone wanted to know when we were going to lift restrictions during the first wave. People want to know when these vaccines will arrive when we can get back to normal. The reality is, there are quite a few potential vaccines, but we do not know which one will be the most effective, which ones will arrive first, when we will be able to deliver them directly to Canadians. And that’s why we are currently implementing a robust plan to mobilize our resources so that we can deliver vaccines to the right people as soon as they arrive in Canada and are deemed safe for Canadians. So we have a plan. We are delivering on that plan, but there is work that remains to be done before the vaccines arrive and are distributed.
Ryan Thomathy: (26:26)
What you’re saying about not being able to circle dates on a calendar because we don’t know exactly when the vaccines are going to arrive or how effective they’re going to be, but doesn’t it make sense to have a specific date or a specific timeline in place when you’ll have your rollout plan ready to go? Whether or not the vaccine is here yet, but you have the logistics ready to go to handle the vaccine. Say it should arrive earlier than we were expecting.
Justin Trudeau: (26:49)
We are working very closely with the provinces, with partners, including the Canadian military to establish that logistical mobilization plan. And we will have more to share as we get it up and running.
Speaker 6: (27:03)
Thank you. And we’ll take one more call on the line. Operator.
Speaker 5: (27:08)
Thank you. Merci [foreign language 00:27:12].
The next question is from Canadian press. Go ahead question. Hello, Mr. Trudeau, I also would like to come back to the issue of vaccines. I didn’t quite understand your explanation from my TV colleague. You’re saying that it’s normal for Canadians that can produce vaccines, prioritize their own populations. So are we to understand that the contracts are negotiated to buy millions of doses? And does that mean that we’ll only receive those millions of doses after the Americans or the Germans or whomever, depending on the pharmaceutical company that sold it to us will have received theirs?
Answer. Absolutely not. No. We will receive doses in the first months of the coming year, but the very first doses and that’s understandable, an American pharmaceutical company will begin to distribute in the US before they distribute internationally. But we don’t have to wait for everyone in the US to be vaccinated. Before we begin to vaccinate Canadians, we will be receiving vaccines in the coming months, even while they are distributing them across the US and elsewhere in the world.
Justin Trudeau: (28:30)
Yes, the very first vaccines that roll off an assembly line in a given country are likely to be given to citizens of that particular country. But shortly afterwards, they will start honoring and delivering on the contracts that they signed with other countries, including with Canada. We’ve secured millions of doses of the various vaccine candidates around the world. And we’re expecting to start receiving those doses in the first few months of 2021.
Follow-up question? Yes. Thank you. Friday. You were asked if you were angered or unhappy to see that Mr. Dugo was allowing people to gather from December 24th to 27th, you were saying, “No, it’s fine. He can do as he wishes.” And then dr. Tam this morning said that gatherings over the holidays should only be done with members of one’s own household. Can you explain the contradiction between what you said Friday and what the federal authorities are saying today?
Answer. What we’re always saying is to listen to your local public health directives. Of course, directors are going to be different, both from those that they will give in Montreal or that one might hear in Alberta or BC. But at the same time, we are trying to guide people as much as possible using the best recommendations we have to offer. And that is why Dr. Tam is establishing principles that shouldn’t really surprise anyone. That as much as possible people should stay at home, they should avoid gatherings and social contact with people. Now different jurisdictions are going to make their own specific decisions, but recommendations will always apply everywhere to be careful over the coming months, because we must massively reduce this outbreak of COVID-19.
Andy Bergeron-Oliver: (30:39)
Andy Bergeron-Oliver from CTV National News. I’m also going to go back on vaccines. I’m just wondering what guarantees do you have from the pharmaceutical companies, as well as from our allies, that the delivery of vaccines to Canada will not be significantly delayed because of mass vaccination programs in other countries who have approved these vaccines first? And also will Canada start receiving shipments before the vaccines themselves are approved in Canada so that they can get out to Canadians?
Justin Trudeau: (31:04)
We have signed strong contracts with various vaccine companies. And we are working closely with allies on ensuring that there is a free flow of delivery of contracts. We know that this is a preoccupation of many people have, which is why it was something that we all talked about on this weekend’s G20 virtual summit. It’s really important to ensure that everyone gets access to vaccines around the world because no one place gets through COVID-19 until all places are done with COVID-19.
Justin Trudeau: (31:42)
In regards to the question on vaccines arriving. We are working as quickly as possible with the data the vaccine companies are providing us to ensure that approval of these vaccines happens rapidly, so that there is no delay between them arriving and being distributed to Canadians. But we will not cut any corners when it comes to protecting Canadians safety. We’re looking very carefully at what our allies are doing in terms of approval of various vaccines. But at the same time, we know how important it is that as many people as possible get these vaccines, which is why we need to guarantee to Canadians that they will be safe for them, so as many people as possible will get the vaccines. Okay. [foreign language 00:10:37].
I think we all understand that it’s important to be able to have vaccines available everywhere in the world, because no place can get through COVID-19 if everyone isn’t getting through COVID-19. That’s why we’re trying to ensure that these contracts are respected and we’re working with our allies to that end. And we are confident that there will be no interruptions in that respect-
Are confident that there will be no interruptions in that respect. At the same time, it’s very important to ensure that those vaccines are approved for use as soon as they arrive in Canada so that they can be distributed. That’s why we’re working ahead of their delivery so that we can ensure their safety and efficacy. And Health Canada is currently analyzing all data provided by the companies in making their decisions. And we’re also looking at what our allies are doing in that regard.
However, I’d like to reassure Canadians that if a vaccine is begins to be distributed in Canada, it is because we have deemed it safe for Canadians. We need people to feel confident and know that they are safe when they take that vaccine. That’s exactly the work that we are doing to ensure that as many people, as many Canadians as possible can take the vaccine.
Speaker 7: (33:58)
[inaudible 00:33:57], Canadian Press. You’ve criticized the opposition for suggesting that you’re somehow using this pandemic as cover for major changes to Canadian society, the economy, and you’ve also talked about the importance of building back better. Meanwhile, we’re seeing big changes, accelerations in how we’re living, moves towards things like online shopping, while local merchants say they’re suffering. So how do you balance supporting people through COVID-19 with what you say is this need to come out with a country that’s going to be different than it was before.
Justin Trudeau: (34:29)
I think we’re learning lessons through this pandemic about how important it is to be there for each other to support each other. I think we’re learning lessons about how important it is to support a digital transformation of our economy, while at the same time, we’re making sure that small businesses benefit from it. I think we’re learning through this pandemic that vulnerable people who are always falling through the cracks need more supports than we’ve been able to give them up until now. These are things that are obvious during this pandemic, but I think Canadians expect the government to respond to.
Justin Trudeau: (35:03)
So like I said, we will be there every step of the way to do whatever is necessary to support Canadians through this pandemic, and we will continue to work with Canadians to ensure that when the economy comes roaring back at the end of this pandemic, it does so in a way that benefits everyone.
Mark-Andre Cossette: (35:21)
Good afternoon, Prime Minister, Mark-Andre Cossette with Global News. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have all said that they could start vaccinating their populations as early as next month. Spain plans to have more than 10 million of its citizens vaccinated by March. You’ve talked about distributing the vaccine to high priority Canadians in the first three months of next year, but compared to these other countries, how much longer will average Canadians have to wait to be vaccinated?
Justin Trudeau: (35:46)
We have secured tens of millions of doses of many different types of vaccines exactly to ensure that we’re able to vaccinate as many Canadians as possible as quickly possible. We recognize the disadvantage that Canada has of not having a domestic pharmaceutical industry able to mass produce vaccines, but that’s why we went above and beyond in securing access to more doses per capita than just about any other country of the potential vaccines out there.
Tom Perry: (36:20)
Hi, Prime Minister, Tom Perry with the CBC. You know, we saw in the first wave that it was the Wild West when it came to Canada getting PPE, other countries as well. And I’m wondering if this time, you’re talking about us securing these vaccines, but have you got assurances from our allies, from the pharmaceutical companies, that there’s not going to be, say, export controls on these vaccines once they’re produced that’s going to get in the way of Canadians getting these vaccines?
Justin Trudeau: (36:43)
We obviously learnt a lot and had certain challenges on delivering PPE in the spring because it was, as you say, a real challenge and lots of global competition, which was why, at the same time as we managed to deliver massive amounts of PPE to Canada, we developed domestic industries at the same time so we have made in Canada solutions. At the same time we worked with our partners to ensure that when we saw challenges around delivery of 3M products, for example, we worked closely with the United States to emphasize the integration of our supply lines that flow back and forth across the border, and ensured that essential supplies continue to be delivered. As a world, we are very aware and discussing the challenges around the necessity for free flow of goods across the borders, particularly medical supplies and vaccines. It was a topic of discussion this weekend at the G20 and we’ve all committed and understood that no one place gets through this pandemic until all of us get through this pandemic. And I’m confident that we’re going to be able to access the necessary vaccines for Canadians across international borders.
Thomas Laberge: (38:02)
Bonjour, Monsieur Trudeau, Thomas Laberge de Radio-
Hello, Mr. Trudeau, Radio-Canada. Concerning Huawei and Canada, our allies and the Five Eyes have already made a decision on the 5G networks. We know that your government is thinking, have been thinking about this for about a year. So what are you lacking in making a decision about Huawei in Canada?
Answer, our security agencies are assessing the situation, are analyzing, looking at the situation in order to make the right recommendations to government. So we continue to work with them and we will listen to their recommendations when they’re ready to give them.
Justin Trudeau: (38:44)
Our intelligence communities and services are looking carefully at the question around 5G and Huawei. As they firm up their recommendations and make them to the government, we will move forward.
Thomas Laberge: (38:57)
[foreign language 00:05:58]
Question, are you afraid that there will be an impact on the two Michaels for example?
Answer, we are always concerned about the situation of the two Michaels that have been arbitrarily detained in China. We will continue to do everything that is necessary to bring them back to Canada and to push back against China’s form of course of diplomacy.
Justin Trudeau: (39:24)
About to the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China. We will continue to do everything necessary to bring them home and continue to push back against China’s coercive diplomacy. [foreign language 00:06:36].
Thank you, everyone. Have a great day.