Nov 9, 2020
Justin Trudeau November 9 Press Conference Transcript: Talks Coronavirus Vaccine, High-Speed Internet Goal
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference on November 9, where he announced the goal of having 98% of Canadians connected to high-speed internet by 2026. He also talked about the successful COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer. He also congratulated Joe Biden on his presidential victory. Read the full transcript here.
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Prime Minister Trudeau: (00:03)
Good morning, everyone. [foreign language 00:00:14]
Good morning, everyone.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (00:15)
Before we get started, I want to congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. I’m looking forward to working with them both on the common challenges and opportunities facing our countries and our world. Canada and the United States have a unique relationship, and this bond will always be the strong foundation on which we build our shared future. I also want to take a moment to reflect on the historic milestone reached in this election. For so many people in Canada and around the world, seeing a woman, a black and South Asian American woman, elected as the next Vice President of the United States is an inspiration and a reminder that everyone’s voice belongs in politics. I also want to take a moment to address the current situation with COVID-19. This morning, Canadians woke up to very encouraging news from Pfizer and BioNTech about their vaccine candidate. Canada signed a deal with them in August to secure millions of doses. At the same time, we’re also seeing other vaccine candidates progressing well. In Canada and around the world, scientists are working very hard and doing a great job. We hope to see vaccines landing in the early next year.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (01:37)
But between now and then, it’s really, really important that we double down on our efforts. We need to make sure we are controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months, so that when vaccines get here, we will be able to act quickly to protect all Canadians. And to be very clear, if you catch COVID in the coming days and weeks, the vaccine won’t help you or your family. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are hopeful we are getting there because our scientists are working incredibly hard, but we need to do our part. We need to stay strong and hang in there a few more months, maybe more than that, but we can see it coming.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (02:33)
Download the COVID Alert app, keep your distances, reduce your gatherings to essential members of your family, and follow local public health advice. That’s how we’ll get through this winter to a spring and a summer that will be much better. I promise.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (02:52)
[foreign language 00:02:56].
This morning, I’m pleased to be here accompanied by Minister Monsef and Bains, as well as Minister McKenna and Pablo Rodriguez. These ministers, as well as our whole team have been working to build stronger communities.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (03:13)
Our daily routines have changed. People are working from home. Kids are doing classes from the kitchen table, and we’re all going online to stay in touch with family and friends. Now more than ever, a video chat cutting out during a meeting or a connection that’s too slow to upload a school assignment, that’s not just a hassle. It’s a barrier. Just ask Urve from Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador. She’s an artisan who moved part of her shop, The Glass Station, online to continue reaching customers during the pandemic. If Urve didn’t have access to good internet, it would limit her options. But because she can get online, she’s taking her business to a whole new level. Good, reliable internet isn’t a luxury. It’s a basic service, and it’s a service that every single Canadian deserves. That’s why over the last five years, we’ve invested to connect 1.2 million households to high speed internet.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (04:18)
To put it in perspective, over 10 years, the previous government invested about 700 million in connecting people to the internet. Over the past five years, we’ve invested over $6 billion for the coming decade, which is nearly 10 times as much per year on average. We’ve made important progress, but there are more people still to reach.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (04:42)
So today, we’re taking another big step forward. Our government is launching the $1.75 billion universal broadband fund to connect all Canadians to high speed internet. This fund will be used to build infrastructure across the country, almost entirely in rural and remote communities. And for places that are just too far to reach, including in remote areas in the North, we’ve reached a $600 million agreement with Telesat for satellite capacity to improve broadband. Along with the $2 billion we’ve already put down for broadband through the Canada infrastructure bank’s growth plan, we’re making real investments in Canadians in their success and in their future.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (05:30)
[foreign language 00:05:34].
In today’s world, internet access is not a luxury, but an essential service. Take for example, [Lees 00:05:40] from Pike River, Quebec. She is a senior who now has access in Brome-Missisquoi to fiber optic access, thanks to our government’s actions. This means she can stay in contact with her loved ones and family whilst staying safe at home. In addition, her son who lives with her can now work from home. That is the importance of high-speed internet. We want for everyone to be able to benefit from it like Liza and her family too. That is why our government today is launching a universal broadband fund, a $1.75 billion investment aiming to provide high speed internet access to all Canadians. From one end of the country to the other, the fund will help build infrastructure, especially in rural communities. And when it comes to more rural communities, such as those in the North, we have signed a $600 million agreement with Telesat to help make broadband available through satellites. Today’s announcement is a real investment in Canadians, in their success and in their futures.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (06:59)
Today’s investment puts us on track to get 98% of Canadians connected to high speed internet in the next few years and everyone connected a few years after that. These are ambitious targets, and we’re ready to meet them. In fact, to accelerate our progress right now, we’re making $150 million of the universal broadband fund available immediately. As we support people through this pandemic and rebuild a strong resilient economy, getting Canadians connected is yet another tool in the toolbox. I want to recognize the hard work of so many members of our team, especially our rural caucus who led the way on universal broadband from Gudie Hutchings to Lynn Bassett, from [Stefan Luzone 00:07:47] to Larry Bagnell. Across the country, this liberal team is focused on what communities need to succeed.
Prime Minister Trudeau: (07:55)
[foreign language 00:07:57].
To build a strong and resilient economy, everyone must have the tools necessary to succeed. Our commitment has build millions of new jobs and we will continue to concentrate our efforts on meeting Canadians’ needs now and for the future. Thank you. It is with great pleasure that I now give the floor to Minister Monsef Maryam.
Minister Monsef: (08:25)
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Hello colleagues. [foreign language 00:08:30]. The program we’re launching today is the product of Canadian’s inputs and efforts. It reflects their advice and their recommendations on how best to solve the most important infrastructure challenge of our time, how best to strengthen our connections. Canadians, especially those living in rural communities, asked us to design a program that flexible to address their diverse needs to include backbone, last mile, and cell service. They asked for a rapid response stream for projects that can connect communities faster. They asked us to ensure investments are future-proofed and keep up with the ever evolving technologies. They asked for greater support in form of a pathfinder service so that applicants can easily navigate this complex process. They asked us to learn from the past and build on the significant progress our government’s already made to connect Canadians.
Minister Monsef: (09:32)
Including today’s announcements, we are advancing programs and projects that will connect three million Canadians to better, faster internet. Today, we’re delivering on a program that Canadians asked for. This plan is a key part of our response to COVID-19 and it is where our economic recovery from the pandemic begins. It will provide access to telehealth in underserved communities. It will help students and teachers with online learning. It will improve safety and security on lonely roads and highways. It will give people the ability to call for and receive emergency help. It will strengthen our local businesses on main streets, allow for work from home and create more Canadian jobs. It will keep us connected with loved ones in long-term care homes and across the country. Our plan will be delivered in the short term, not the long term. We will partner with provinces, territories, Metis, Inuit, first nations communities, private sector, and the nonprofit to connect people immediately and position us for the future.
Minister Monsef: (10:46)
To respond to the immediate COVID-19 connectivity needs, the universal broadband fund will launch in two parallel streams, the $150 million rapid response stream will support shovel ready projects that can deliver immediate results. Government officials stand ready to assess applications as we receive them. Let me take this opportunity to thank my team who’s worked around the clock to make this possible. The core universal broadband fund will support large strategic projects of impact, including $50 million for mobile projects to primarily benefit indigenous communities.
Minister Monsef: (11:27)
My colleagues and I are determined to see this program rolled out expeditiously. Our number one priority now is to encourage and support strong applications to connect every corner of this country. Applicants are encouraged to call +1 800-328-6189 to receive personalized support for their application. COVID hasn’t created the need for increased connectivity, but it has added urgency to this work. Our connections have been our biggest strengths in response to COVID. They’ve allowed us to meet the crisis head-on. Stronger connections for all Canadians will drive our economic recovery in the post pandemic world and will keep our country united. The road ahead will not be easy, but we will get through it together. Merci.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (12:28)
Thank you, Maryam.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (12:32)
[foreign language 00:12:32].
Good day everyone.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (12:32)
Good morning, everyone. And it’s great to be here with my colleagues. And I want to particularly acknowledge Minister Monsef, who has worked tirelessly on his project and role as the minister responsible for rural economic development. Thank you for your leadership. And I’m also delighted to be here with my colleagues, Minister Rodriguez and Minister McKenna. And of course, thank you Prime Minister.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (12:55)
The news of this major investment in Canadian satellite communications. It’s an investment that respects the first principle of Canada’s digital charter that we introduced in 2019, and that is around universal access. [foreign language 00:13:14].
This is an investment that will help to bridge the digital gap between cities and remote rural regions.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (13:21)
It’s an investment that is inspired as much by social responsibility as it is by economic success. If the social change of the past few months has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be more mindful of the experience and voices of all Canadians, regardless of where they live, their economic circumstances, their gender, or the color of their skin. And if the COVID-19 restrictions have taught us anything, it’s that access to high-speed internet is absolutely essential for all Canadians as more and more of us work and learn from home. [foreign language 00:00:14:03].
We’re determined to ensure that 100% of Canadians will have internet or rather speed internet access. Today’s announcement is the first step, and the path to follow to get there.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (14:19)
Canada is a big country and our geography presents challenges to building networks. With this investment, we are ensuring that Canadians in the most rural and remote parts of Canada can have access to high-speed, reliable broadband access from a low earth orbit or Leo satellite constellation that operates at less than 2,000 kilometers from the surface of the Earth compared to the 36,000 kilometers for the traditional geostationary satellites. Providing Canadians with access to high-speed internet will help close gaps caused by geography. [foreign language 00:00:14:58].
Access to high speed internet is also equal access to health, education, and jobs in the digital economy.
Minister Navdeep Bains: (15:05)
And perhaps most importantly, we cannot in good conscience, leave our fellow Canadians in rural and remote communities on the periphery. I’m proud to say that today’s investment to secure low earth orbit satellite capacity will go a long way in addressing those challenges, particularly for those really remote and rural communities. Thank you very much. [foreign language 00:15:29]. And over to you, Minister McKenna.
Minister McKenna: (15:32)
Good morning. Thank you very much. I’ll be brief. The pandemic has made the government’s commitments to connect all Canadians to high speed internet more important than ever. The Canada infrastructure bank recently announced its growth plan, which includes a $2 billion broadband initiative that will help accelerate connectivity in Canada by developing and delivering large scale high-impact projects, including through a partnership with the universal broadband funds. The Canada infrastructure bank’s investments in-
Speaker 1: (16:03)
…Broadband Fund. The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s investments in Broadband, will connect more than three-quarters of a million households and businesses in underserved communities, improving lives, and creating good jobs.
Speaker 1: (16:14)
[foreign language 00:00:16].
Speaker 2: (16:15)
The investments by the Canada Infrastructure Bank in Broadband will help connect three quarters of a million of households and businesses in underserved communities. This will improve peoples’ standards of healing.
Speaker 1: (16:36)
Just last month, the Canada Infrastructure Bank announced its investment in a major irrigation project in Southern Alberta that will help producers grow food more efficiently with the same water resources. So what we’re seeing from the Canada Infrastructure Bank is action, progress, and ambition to create jobs and build a stronger, more sustainable, and more connected economy. When I was appointed Minister of Infrastructure and Communities just under a year ago, the Prime Minister mandated me to ensure that this publicly funded Crown corporation fully lives up to its promise to make our tax dollars go further by drawing it in private capital and getting more important infrastructure built for Canadians.
Speaker 1: (17:18)
[foreign language 00:01:41].
Speaker 2: (17:18)
We appointed Micheal Sabia as president of the advisory board, and Aaron Corey is the new CEO of the bank. The bank is now [fire 00:17:31] on all cylinders and has a three year plan to create at least 60,000 jobs.
Speaker 1: (17:40)
These are exactly the kinds of projects our government envisioned when we stood up the bank in 2017. I look forward to the Canada Infrastructure Bank, helping sustain more Canadian jobs and growth with further investments in the days and months ahead.
Speaker 1: (17:55)
[French 00:00:17:55], thank you.
Speaker 1: (17:57)
Now over to Minister Rodriguez.
Minister Rodriguez: (17:59)
[foreign language 00: 02:01]
Speaker 2: (18:05)
Hello, everyone. Hello Prime Minister, Marian, Katherine, Navdeep. I’m very pleased to be with you this morning. I have been all around Quebec to take the temperature of the people in our regions, whether it be in the mountains [inaudible 00:18:20]. And Quebeckers let me know what you did well and also what we could improve on. And it was regularly repeated that high- speed internet access is an absolute priority in our regions. For example, take [inaudible 00:18:41] from Lac-Saint-Paul who was explaining to me that right now it’s as if there are two classes of the citizens. There are children who can go to schools virtually and those who can’t. There are parents who can work from home and those who can’t.
Speaker 2: (18:56)
Take [inaudible 00:18:56] in Harrington. I clearly remember our meeting. She was telling me that it’s much more difficult for her business to reach clients. And what I saw to these people, everyone I spoke to in Quebec is that, “We’ve heard you.” Today, as my colleagues and Prime Minister said, we have invested 1.75 billion dollars to connect Quebec even quicker and connect the rest of Canada to the universal high-speed Broadband. And by 2030, we’re on track to connect everyone in all of Canada.
Speaker 2: (19:38)
But you told us that 2030 wasn’t soon enough, so we’re going to accelerate that. We’re going to double down to connect almost all of Quebeckers over the next six years. That’s by 2026. So four years earlier than planned. And $150 million will be part of the rapid response program. So these will be projects that will be finished one year from today, and we will work together with all of our partners. I think that includes the government of Quebec and many others to overcome obstacles that slow us down which we’ve heard about in our conversations all around Quebec. At the beginning of the pandemic, we promised that we would not leave anyone behind. And now we are using digital economy to help us build back better. So whether Canadians live in [foreign language 00:20:42] other parts of Quebec, or elsewhere, internet access in a necessity.Thank you.
Speaker 1: (21:04)
[foreign language 00:04:55].
Speaker 2: (21:06)
Thank you very much, Minister Rodriguez. Today we will release before our 20-minute Prime Minister question period starting on the phone, and then we’ll go to the room. Then the ministers will be available for 15 minutes to answer other questions.
Speaker 1: (21:10)
The Prime Minister will be available for 20 minutes answering questions, starting with the phone, following with questions in the room. Ministers will remain available for more questions afterward. [foreign language 00:05:17].
Speaker 3: (21:20)
Thank you. Please press star one for questions that it will ask you [foreign language 00:21:27].
Speaker 2: (21:39)
First question from [Lina Dieppe 00:21:31] from the Canadian press. Hello Mr. Prime Minister. On the American election, You’ve already congratulated Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump has still not conceded victory, so did you speak too soon? What can you do about the fact that Mr. Trump seems to be holding on tight?
Prime Minister: (21:53)
[foreign language 00:21:32].
Speaker 2: (21:55)
Answer: First of all, we trust any American electoral process. I was pleased to extend congratulations to president-elect Biden over the weekend. We will continue to work with the current administration until the end of January. And after that, we will work with the new administration, and, of course, that will be the third American president I will have worked with. I think that over the years we’ve proven our ability to defend Canadians’ interest.
Prime Minister: (22:29)
As I’ve said, we have confidence in the American electoral process. As it has unfolded, I was pleased to congratulate president-elect Biden on the weekend. We will continue to work with the current American administration until January 20th, after which we’ll work with the new administration. President Biden, once he’s sworn into office, will be my third American president. We’ve demonstrated an ability to stand up and defend Canadian interests throughout which we will do as we move forward.
Speaker 4: (23:07)
[foreign language 00:07:09].
Speaker 2: (23:10)
Follow-up question: What do you think of the fact that Mr. Trump still hasn’t conceded victory and that he still seems to be holding on?
Prime Minister: (23:18)
[foreign language 00:23:17].
Speaker 2: (23:18)
Answer: I think that you know that my responsibility is to be there to defend Canadian interests, and that’s what I will do at each step.
Speaker 5: (23:25)
Thank you. Operator, next question on the phone.
Speaker 3: (23:28)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:23:29].
Speaker 2: (23:32)
Next question: Borris [Pue 00:23:34] from [Le Devoir 00:23:34].
Speaker 6: (23:45)
[foreign language 00:23:35].
Speaker 2: (23:45)
Hello, Prime Minister. I would like to remain on the same topic, American election. Do you think that it will be possible for you to withdraw your congratulations if ever it is found that Joe Biden didn’t win after a recount?
Prime Minister: (23:53)
[foreign language 00:23:56].
Speaker 2: (23:57)
Answer: We have great trust in the American electoral and democratic system. I was pleased to congratulate president-elect Biden this weekend. And, of course, we will continue to work with the current administration until January 20th.
Speaker 6: (24:13)
[foreign language 00:24:14].
Speaker 2: (24:13)
Follow-up question: What do you say to Canadians who are perhaps skeptical about the way the American election played out and think it’s, perhaps, too soon to have congratulated president-elect Biden.
Prime Minister: (24:51)
[foreign language 00:24:27].
Speaker 2: (24:51)
Answer: I think people should feel reassured that there are experts and systems that have a lot of integrity in the United State. They’re doing their job sometimes in difficult circumstances. And once the declaration was clearly made, which happened over the weekend, we can be quite certain of the results.
Prime Minister: (24:53)
I think it’s important to remind people of the strength of American democratic systems and the institutions designed to evaluate and analyze tabulate election results. We have confidence in the processes that have operated in the United States. And we’ll continue to demonstrate that.
Speaker 5: (25:20)
[foreign language 00:07:23].
Speaker 2: (25:25)
Next telephone question.
Speaker 3: (25:28)
Thank you. Merci. Next question: Justin Ling, freelance.
Speaker 7: (25:32)
Good morning. Prime minister. We have a new report out from criminologist, Tony Dube, that basically says that the solitary confinement regime in Canada’s prisons hasn’t substantially changed since our new legislation came online. And then in many respects, you’re still not adhering to what the courts in Ontario and D.C. has instructed your government to do. So, considering all of that, are you going to wait for another round of litigation on this, or is this something your government could intervene on and ensure that the charter rights of inmates are being respected?
Prime Minister: (26:07)
We made a commitment many years ago to move forward on ending solitary confinement, moving forward with a new regimes. Obviously that’s a process that is very much underway, but as reports come out that highlight that there is still more to do, we will continue to work on that. Defending the charter rights of Canadians is always important to this government.
Speaker 5: (26:32)
Speaker 7: (26:34)
In 2015, you, in your mandate letter to the public safety minister, said that you want it to respect the inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith. You said you wanted to respect out of the court rulings in D.C. and Ontario, but you haven’t actually implemented any safeguards that corresponds with Ashley Smith’s inquiry. So why are you continuing to say that you’re looking to improve the system when the system isn’t even designed to comport with what you yourself did you want it to do?
Prime Minister: (27:08)
We made a commitment to end solitary confinement, and we’ve moved forward on that. Obviously there is always more work to do to ensure that Canadians’ charter rights are being properly defended, and we will continue to do that.
Speaker 5: (27:20)
[foreign language 00:11:22].
Speaker 8: (27:24)
Hello, Prime Minister. It’s Annie Bertram Oliver with CTV National News. It’s now been exactly 700 days since the two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in what’s widely believed to be a retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou. Do you intend to have a conversation with the president-elect about these two men? And do you have any reason to believe that President Biden’s new foreign policy will include greater pressure on Beijing and potentially even an intervention aMeng Wanzhou’s extradition case?
Prime Minister: (27:52)
We have worked very closely with the current American administration over the past many, many months. And indeed we’ve worked with allies around the world to put pressure on China around the arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens. Their approach around coercive diplomacy is ineffective and extremely preoccupying for democratic nations around the world, and we have all expressed that very clearly. I am extremely confident that the incoming American administration will continue to be a good partner to Canada and other nations around the world as we look to impress upon China that the approach they’re taking is simply not working, while at the same time, impressing upon them the importance of returning the two Canadians who’ve been arbitrarily detained for over 700 days now.
Speaker 3: (28:50)
[foreign language 00:28:52].
Prime Minister: (28:50)
[foreign language 00:12:55].
Speaker 2: (28:53)
Could you answer in French? For many months we have been working extremely closely with the current American administration on the case of the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China and also with our allies around the world to impress upon the Chinese government that its approach is counterproductive for Chinese people. And it is also erroneous and adverse for the world in general. We will continue to work together with all of our partners including the administration that will take office in the States starting on January 20th on China in general, and on the two Micheals.
Speaker 3: (29:46)
[foreign language 00:29:47].
Speaker 2: (29:46)
Question from [inaudible 00:13:49]. Joe Biden has a certain plan for protectionism that is very different from Trump’s approach. What will you say to him to defend Canadian businesses?
Prime Minister: (30:08)
[foreign language 00:14:08].
Speaker 2: (30:08)
Answer: I think that we’ve seen that, even over four years, the American approach was very protectionist. We’ve been working to build strategies that have had enormous benefits for Canadians. For example, signing a new iteration of [Pusma 00:30:30] that guarantees access to the American market for decades to come. We also pushed back against unfair tariffs that were levied on two occasions against our aluminum workers. And so we have developed very robust ways of defending Canadian interests, particularly by highlighting the advantages of workers and companies in the United States of a continued open access between our two countries. Once again, we will emphasize how the integration of our twos economies needs those sort of protectionist measures harm both of our countries and that we should continue to deepen our connection regarding our two markets.
Prime Minister: (31:29)
One of the things we demonstrated over the past four years, was that, even under a fairly protectionistic American administration, we’re able to stand up for Canadian jobs and interests. We renegotiated our most important free trade agreement with NAFTA in a way that defended Canadian access to the U.S. market and continues to highlight Canadian interest from our cultural exemptions to our auto sector, to a broad range of intellectual property protections that are really important for Canadian.
Prime Minister: (32:03)
… intellectual property protections that are really important for Canadians. We also stood up in a few different occasions to push back against unjust tariffs, brought in by this current American president, to defend our steel workers and our aluminum workers. And we will continue to be there to defend Canadian interests.
Prime Minister: (32:20)
But the fundamental argument that we made every step of the way over the past four years and will continue to make into the future is the fact that creating or imposing barriers on trade between Canada and the US not only hurts Canada, but also hurts workers and companies in the United States.
Prime Minister: (32:40)
The integration of our supply chains, the close collaboration and cooperation between businesses and people on both sides of the border means it’s always better for us to have free-flowing goods and opportunities on both sides of the border as we work together to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.
Tom Perry: (33:04)
Prime Minister, Tom Perry, CBC. On the Pfizer vaccine, these initial successful results we’re seeing, is that going to mean Canada’s going to be ordering more of this particular vaccine? Can you talk about the timelines of how long it’s going to take to get as much as we need? And also, just my understanding is that this vaccine has to be stored at very low temperatures. I’m wondering what steps we’re taking to store it and to distribute it?
Prime Minister: (33:31)
We have secured access to a broad range of vaccine candidates. Indeed, Canada is one of the countries around the world with the very best portfolio of potential vaccines, because we know that there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to which vaccines will land first, which vaccines will be most effective, which vaccines will be best suited to different segments of the population. And that’s why having a range of vaccines and having secured hundreds of millions of doses in advance is what is our responsibility to make sure that Canadians are safe and are well-served once vaccines start to arrive.
Prime Minister: (34:16)
Indeed, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine candidate has published some very promising results and seems to be moving forward quickly. We’ve secured already millions of doses of that vaccine candidate. And when it is safe to distribute, we will certainly be beginning distribution in Canada to high priority groups. That is most likely to happen in Q1 or in the first three months of 2021. But of course, there is a lot of uncertainty involved in these processes.
Prime Minister: (34:52)
In regards to this particular vaccine candidate, indeed, it needs to be stored at about 75 below zero Celsius in order to be kept stable. And therefore, the logistical distribution of this vaccine candidate will require some very careful cooperation with provinces and with supply chains in order to be able to get it out to Canadians on a priority basis.
Prime Minister: (35:19)
We are already working on those necessary logistical supports. But obviously, compared to potential later vaccines that will be much more stable at room temperatures, the logistics on this first vaccine are likely to be more complex and slightly more limiting in terms of where we can get this candidate out to than some subsequent ones. But as you know, we’re going to continue to work to be there to help all Canadians with a broad range of candidates.
Tom Perry: (35:52)
[foreign language 00:35:53]
Speaker 9: (35:54)
In French, please. [ foreign language 00:03:57] As you may know, Canada is one of the countries with the most agreements and has been able to put together the best portfolio of vaccine candidates of any country in the world. It’s because we know that access to a good vaccine is essential to Canadians. So, we have signed agreements for different types with different timelines. Certainly there was positive news regarding the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine candidate that came out this morning.
Speaker 9: (36:37)
We will continue to work together with them and others. We have already secured millions of doses of that vaccine. And we believe that it will be ready for administration in the first three months of 2021. We will begin administering the vaccines to vulnerable Canadians or priority Canadians, rather. And we will continue with other promising vaccine candidates.
Speaker 9: (37:07)
Regarding the Pfizer candidate, it is true that it must be stored at 75 degrees below zero degrees Celsius for it to remain stable. So it will be logistically complicated. And we will have to ensure that that is accounted for. But we will work together with the provinces to make sure that we have the capacity to distribute this vaccine. [foreign language 00:37:37].
[inaudible 00:37:11] from TV. First on Pfizer, you spoke about millions of doses. Do you have a number for when the vaccine will first start being available? And second, on Biden, do you think it bodes well for Biden’s climate change?
Answer: Regarding Pfizer, I know we have secured several million doses but that is nothing but a first batch. Of course if things go well, we will buy even more when more doses become available.
Now regarding the new American administration, we know that fighting climate change is a priority for many people everywhere around the world while protecting jobs and while creating an economy for the future.
And the words of president elect Biden on that subject, are certainly warmly welcome.
Prime Minister: (38:34)
I think people around the world know how important it is to move forward on fighting climate change and ensuring economic growth and jobs for people. As we transform our energy mix and our economies, it is a welcome sign that the new president elect has indicated that climate change is a top priority of his.
Private [inaudible 00:00:39:00]. There were multiple deaths this weekend at a Winnipeg care home. Police were investigating reports that people were laying dead for hours. You keep talking about a federal standard for long-term care. But there doesn’t seem to be any action on this. Are you not personally responsible for the fact that this keeps happening in Canada?
Prime Minister: (39:17)
We recognize the responsibilities that provinces have on long-term care issues. The constitution designates that as a provincial responsibility and area of provincial responsibility. But of course the federal government is deeply concerned with the tragedies we’ve seen coming out of Winnipeg, with the tragedies we’ve seen come out of long-term care centers across this country, which is why we made the army available in the early, early days of the pandemic in both Quebec and Ontario, while we’ve moved forward with the Canadian Red Cross to be there for installations and institutions in difficulties, and why we continue to work with the provinces and impress upon the provinces, how it’s important to share best practices and move towards long-term care standards.
Speaker 10: (40:12)
Minister, I am Mike [inaudible 00:40:13] with Global National. Over the last few years, you’ve had a pretty decent relationship with President Trump. He’s still refused to concede and contest these election results. Have you called him? And more precisely, what’s your message to President Trump as he continues this challenge?
Prime Minister: (40:33)
My message to every American president is that I will work to defend Canadian interests. That’s my job. My job is to make sure that we’re working well with the current administration and that we will work well with the incoming administration. That’s what Canadians expect of me.
Prime minister, Lieb [inaudible 00:08:53], Canadian press. We’ve case counts for COVID climbing across the country and reaching record levels. You’ve continually called for Canadians to double down including today. But do you think that provinces need to take stronger action? And at what point does the federal government step in? And if so, how?
Prime Minister: (41:09)
The provinces have the responsibility for making local health decisions and determining what closes down and when. What the federal government does and what the federal government has done from the very beginning is made it easier for local health authorities to make the right decisions quickly by committing to be there, to support people who lose their jobs because of the pandemic, people who are facing challenges to their businesses because of this COVID-19 crisis.
Prime Minister: (41:40)
The federal government will be there to support. We’ve recently announced even extra supports for jurisdictions that choose to shut down because we don’t want local public health officials to have to face between impossible choices between keeping Canadians safe and keeping businesses viable. The federal government is there to support businesses. We are there to support Canadians so that local public health officials can make the right decisions quickly. Because ultimately the best way to protect the economy is by protecting Canadian’s health and reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Speaker 9: (42:24)
The provinces have the responsibility to decide what to close and how to act. But the federal government has understood that its responsibility right from the get go was to be there to facilitate that decision making for local authorities. By guaranteeing that Canadians that lose their job will have federal government support, by guaranteeing that businesses and small businesses that need to partially or completely close because the pandemic will have federal government supports, we are being there for local authorities to make the right decisions swiftly so that they don’t have to choose between community’s economic health and the health of people living in the community.
Speaker 9: (43:20)
This will be an on going issue. And we will do even more to make sure that when a local authority does have to begin measures to close businesses, that we will be there even more for those businesses. So we know that the best way to protect the economy and businesses across the country is to reduce COVID-19 outbreaks. We know we must keep all of that under control and to protect the health of all Canadians. Thank you very much Prime Minister. That’s all the time we have with the Prime Minister. We will now start with telephone questions for the Ministers.
Speaker 11: (44:07)
Thank you. First question, Ryan [inaudible 00:44:08] National Post. Line open.
Yeah, good morning. I guess this question is probably best directed at Minister Payne. I’m wondering with the vaccine order when the Pfizer deal was announced, the government said that they ahead 20 million doses with options and was trying to negotiate options for more. Did those negotiations concluded beget options for more vaccine?
Minister Bains: (44:35)
Well, thank you very much for the question. And as we’ve indicated from the outset, we’ve been very clear in terms of our vaccine strategy. We want to have a diverse portfolio and looking at all the different vaccine candidates internationally, as well as supporting Canadian vaccine candidates as well. So that once these candidates proceed and we’re in a position to distribute them to the population, that we have that optionality. And so with respect to Pfizer, we’re continuing to engage with them and looking at that additional optionality. But I can say that we are in a position where we have secured a significant number of doses with not only one vaccine candidate, but several of them. And we’ll keep Canadians apprised of how the situation unfolds.
Sorry. So then would it be fair to say that we don’t have doses beyond the initial 20 million confirmed at this point?
Minister Bains: (45:28)
I would say if you look at our overall portfolio, we have over 300 million doses for different vaccine candidates, including the Pfizer vaccine candidate. And as we move forward with engaging with a company, determine additional doses that may be required, we’ll update Canadians on that progress.
Minister Bains: (45:47)
But I think it’s important to note that there’s going to be several vaccine candidates that are going to show a lot of promise and that Canada is well positioned to be able to secure the necessary doses for Canadians.
Speaker 11: (45:58)
All right. Thank you. Now we’ll go back to the room.
Hi, it’s Andy Bergeron Oliver with CTV national news. My question is for you and Minister Bains. Today, your announcement is all about getting high-speed internet access to Canadians. But people in rural areas right now are already facing extremely high fees, much higher than people in the downtown cores.
So I’m wondering what your government is going to be doing to ensure that all of these Canadians who are now going to be getting high-speed internet are not going to be paying extremely exorbitant prices by companies trying to make more money.
Minister Bains: (46:28)
Well, thank you very much for your question. I think it’s really important to note that access to high-speed internet connectivity is essential, and that’s why we made the significant announcement today.
Minister Bains: (46:38)
Looking at different ways to support Canadians, to get quality access, to high speed internet connectivity, but at an affordable price. And what we want to do in order to achieve that is promote competition. And one of the ways we’ve done so is as you’ve seen today is working with different internet service providers, as well as looking at Telusat that as a solution for low earth orbit satellites, as well as Starling. And we provided at that company as well with access to spectrum so they can provide those services to these communities.
Minister Bains: (47:07)
So we feel the competition from all the different service providers will enable the price points to go down and be more affordable for Canadians, particularly in rural and remote communities.
Speaker 12: (47:21)
Hi. I’m not sure which minister will take it, but I’ll throw my first question out there. This is not a new promise from your government or previous governments. Like why did it take a global pandemic to get this done finally?
Minister Bains: (47:33)
I think Minister Monsef will answer this one.
Minister Monsef: (47:36)
Thank you for your question. Since 2015, our government’s investments have, as the prime minister said, added up to being 10 times higher than all previous governments combined. There are tens of thousands of households that will be connected by the end of this year. About a quarter million plus by the end of next year. And we’re not going to stop until we connect every single household to this.
Minister Monsef: (48:03)
… going to stop until we connect every single household to this essential service. The program we’re announcing today also includes a Rapid Response Stream. That’s $150 million that’s going to provide every community across this country who’s got shovel-ready projects ready to go with an opportunity to apply and get connected within the next year.
Speaker 13: (48:23)
Just as a followup, again, I’m not sure who is going to be taking this, but I know you announced Telesat as helping in this, but in terms of also building other infrastructure, where are we on the 5G announcement, and is Huawei still in the running?
Minister Bains: (48:41)
Yeah, I think it’s important to know there’s different aspects to the questions you asked. When it comes to internet connectivity, as my colleague has mentioned, we’ve made significant investments. We’ve also demonstrated significant progress through the Connect to Innovate program that we launched a few years ago. We’re also investing in new technologies like low Earth orbit satellites. We feel that these different programs and initiatives and the investments that we’re making are going to provide that high speed internet connectivity where you have 50 download and 10 upload for megabits per second, which is important.
Minister Bains: (49:14)
We think it’s critical for Canadians as they go online for work, to learn, to shop, to access essential services. With respects to 5G, we know this technology has a lot of potential, and we want to make sure that it’s deployed in a safe and secure manner, and we continue to work with our allies, continue to engage with national security experts to make sure that when we move forward in a manner that we do so in a way that protects the interest of Canadians. There’s no particular update or announcement that I have on 4G today, but when we do, we’ll definitely share that with you and with Canadians as well.
Dylan Robertson: (49:51)
Good morning. Dylan Robertson from Winnipeg Free Press. I have a question on the followup about [inaudible 00:49:55]. I’m wondering in the context of Manitoba, the CTI project collapsed, the Wekitowak/Clear Sky partnership, I’m just wondering if there’s anything that you guys have learned from that to prevent that from repeating again?
Minister Monsef: (50:08)
That’s an excellent question. This program is a program designed by Canadians for Canadians with our rural MPs, including those in Manitoba having played a really significant role in it all. We also took into account what the report that came out a few years ago said about, broadly speaking, how to connect every Canadian household to this essential service. We heard that the processes need to be streamlined and more easily accessible, that many small communities didn’t have capacity to put forward applications, so we’re offering a pathfinder service, a concierge service for those communities to call and navigate this very complex process.
Minister Monsef: (50:51)
We heard that our maps needed to be more precise. The hexagon model is gone, and our maps are even more now, and we’re sharing that with applicants. We also heard that there are a lot of cooks in this kitchen across the country, and rightfully so. This is a complex infrastructure project. This is a big, beautiful country with a lot of diverse needs, so diverse tools are needed to get there, and that somebody needs to coordinate all the different partners. The federal government’s stepping up to provide that coordination. We heard that we needed to act faster. The Rapid Response does that. We also heard that communities are rightfully so impatient to see progress, and today, we’re launching a tracker to show progress on these projects moving forward.
Dylan Robertson: (51:39)
I thank you for the thorough answer, and I just had a followup about the delay in the funding. This was announced in budget 2019. You had mentioned in the coming days comment back in June about this thing open. I’m just trying to understand what the holdup was.
Minister Monsef: (51:55)
Well, we have supported connectivity in hundreds of communities, even before the pandemic. Actually, we were ready to go in March with the new Universal Broadband Fund, and then the pandemic hit. We had to go back and listen to municipalities, mayors and councils telling us that they’ve got a lot on their plates and that we need to ensure that there was a personalized service there for them to help navigate the process.
Minister Monsef: (52:21)
We also heard that projects needed to be processed even faster, and so that Rapid Response Stream had to be put forward. I will say this though, even during the pandemic, these projects have been moving forward, and I’m going to take this opportunity to thank the essential workers who’ve been digging wires into the ground despite the pandemic to ensure that more Canadians are connected to this essential service.
Lee Berthiaume: (52:50)
Excuse me. Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press. Minister Bains, I wanted to ask you about the negotiations between the government and the airlines about a federal aid package. Can you say whether the LEAF Program will make up part of the financial support, and if that’s unlikely, can you say why it’s unlikely?
Minister Bains: (53:06)
I think it’s important to know that the economic fallout associated with the pandemic has had a significantly negative impact on the airline industry. It’s actually been devastated. I know this personally because Pearson International Airport is in my writing in the constituency, in the community that I represent, and we’ve seen a significant decline in air travel, and so this sector is going through some very challenging times.
Minister Bains: (53:32)
You’ve also heard very clearly from my colleague Minister Garneau that as we engage with this industry to think through the long-term recovery, and we have to be mindful of that, that the recovery is not going to take a few months, it’s several years for this airline industry because of the nature of travel and the border restrictions that are in place, and as we find a vaccine and move forward with that distribution to build confidence for travel, we need to support the sector for the long-term.
Minister Bains: (53:59)
We’re also looking at the issues of refunds. We’re looking at the issues with respects to regional routes and routes that we want to examine, looking at support for airports. Those are key elements. One other element that’s definitely being discussed is support for the broader aerospace sector as well, so not only the airline industry, but aerospace as well to make sure that these airline industries, the airlines continue to support our aerospace sector as well.
Minister Bains: (54:28)
All that to say is it’s very complicated. It’s integrated in terms of all these different issues, and we’re going to continue to work with the sector, but one of the areas that we definitely have made very clear is we want refunds for customers if the airline industry wants meaningful support. We’ve also been very clear that we want support for the aerospace sector. That means we want to support the vibrant sector that exists in different parts of the country for building planes. We’ll look at different optionalities, as you said, the LEAF Program, in terms of liquidity support because that’s a big ask from the sector is that they have the cashflow to deal with operational costs and fixed costs going forward for, like I said, not months, but years. We’re willing to have that conversation, but we have a clear position with regards to refunds as well as support for the aerospace sector.
Lee Berthiaume: (55:19)
I wanted to… You mentioned refunds for customers. Was wondering will airline refunds come at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. In other words, will airlines be that, oh, hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds be receiving more cash from the government to be able to pay for those refunds?
Minister Bains: (55:35)
I think there’s two issues there. One is we want to make it very clear, and Canadians have been very clear with us, that any support for the sector that is going through a very challenging time that they step up and support Canadians who are also struggling and that these refunds should be provided to their customers as soon as possible. This is one issue that we put right at the beginning of our conversations with the airline industry to say, “You need to address this issue.”
Minister Bains: (55:59)
Then our goal and objective is to make sure we have a competitive airline industry so when we do have the economic recovery and when we do have the rebound that we have a strong rebound in a strong airline industry, but the connection of these two issues is very different and very separate. One goal is to make sure the customers are treated fairly and with respect, and they get their refunds, secondly is to make sure we have a broad support for the air sector as well as the airline industry. Those are separate issues that we’re going to address in the coming weeks and months.
Tom Parry: (56:32)
Hi, minster. This is Tom Parry of CBC. On this low earth satellite equipment you’re going to [inaudible 00:56:39] how complicated is that? Is that just flicking a switch? Is it buying more bandwidth off the companies? When are people going to see the impact of that? I guess on the ground, you’re talking about shovel-ready projects. When are people going to start feeling the impact of this announcement today?
Minister Bains: (56:52)
I think Minister Monsef can speak to the shovel-ready projects. With regards to low Earth orbit satellites, we made a big bet as a government to support this technology to tell us that. We provided them with $85 million through the strategic innovation fund for research and development. According to MIT, when they assessed, for example, other low Earth orbit satellite technologies, Telesat is far more advanced. It’s more reliable, more efficient, and so we’re very proud of that, and we’re very proud of the fact that these LEOs will be launched late next year and will be available to communities in 2022, particularly those remote and rural communities where the fiber backbone infrastructure economic doesn’t make sense.
Minister Bains: (57:36)
Because these LEOs are so close to the Earth’s orbit, only 2,000 kilometers in some instances, it deals with a latency issue, and it deals with the speed as well in a meaningful way. It can create and provide meaningful options for high-speed internet connectivity. This is a very promising technology. It’s great to see a Canadian company play a leadership role in this. We’ve supported the research and development for it, and these satellites will be deployed next year, late next year. There will be a technical briefing as well to talk about how complex these are, but it’s incredible technology, and it’s meeting [inaudible 00:58:15] technology that we’re very proud of.
Minister Monsef: (58:18)
Thanks for your question, Tom. As I said, Canadians are feeling the impact of our previous investments as we speak. The new Rapid Response Stream though is in direct response to the hundreds of letters and emails. Pablo spoke about some of those stories, the prime minister shared some of those stories, and we’re ready to accept applications today. We will process those applications on an ongoing basis so that there’s no delay in that process, so if you have a good idea on how to get connected, and your project is shovel-ready, and your community’s on board, reach out to us because we’re here to help.
Tom Parry: (58:59)
[inaudible 00:58:59] as a followup, one of the things we’ve heard since the pandemic started was that even in southern communities, even in big cities, there’s a big divide between kids going to school who have access to computers, who have access to high-speed, and those who don’t. I know that today’s announcement’s not really about that, but is there more that you can do to help kids like that, kids who are in need to get access to high-speed?
Minister Bains: (59:25)
You’re absolutely right in your assessment. If you look at a high-speed connectivity, the divide is fairly significant between urban and rural Canada. 41% of rural Canadians have access to high-speed internet connectivity. That’s when you take the 50/10, 50 download, 10 upload megabits per second, and 98% have high-speed internet connectivity in urban parts of Canada. That digital divide is fairly stark.
Minister Bains: (59:50)
What we recognize is, of course, we want to provide around connectivity, but we also want to make sure they have additional tools. One program that we’re very proud is computers for schools to make sure that young people also have access to technologies and the latest computers as well, and also looking at affordability. In urban communities, having access to high-speed internet connectivity is important, but in some cases for some families, it’s economically challenging. It’s tough to pay the price points for some of these connections, and so we’ve introduced a $25 per month plan with the telecommunication companies looking at those families through the Canada Child Benefit and targeting those families to make sure that they have access to this $25 per month plan. That plan coupled with support through investments in computers we think helps deal with some of those other issues pertaining to access to high-speed internet connectivity.
Speaker 14: (01:00:48)
Okay. Merci. [French 01:00:50]-
Speaker 15: (01:00:53)
Thank you. This concludes today’s press conference.
Speaker 14: (01:00:54)
… press conference. Thank you.
Have a good day, everyone.