Mar 31, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Canada Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript March 31
Justin Trudeau: (00:08)
Good afternoon, hello everyone. First thing I want to do this morning is to share an update about the Ukrainian International Airlines tragedy that took so many innocent lives earlier this year. Even as we face this new crisis, families and loved ones continue to grieve, and seek answers. I want to ensure them, and all Canadians that we have been working hard to get accountability, and justice even as we fight this pandemic. At the same time, we’ve also been developing a strategy with our other international partners to make sure that such a tragedy never happens again.
Justin Trudeau: (00:47)
Today I’m appointing the honorable Ralph Goodale as my special advisor for Canada’s ongoing response to the downing of flight 752. With his decades of extraordinary service to Canada, including as minister of public safety, Ralph has the right expertise to guide our response to this air disaster, and provide recommendations for best practices going forward. He will also continue to push to see families properly compensated.
Justin Trudeau: (01:19)
The second thing I want to do is share a story with you. A few weeks ago, Dave Caputo, the owner of a startup in TrustCorp in the Waterloo region called a meeting with his employees with mounting concerns around COVID-19. Dave asked his team how they could repurpose their building materials factory to make products hospitals needed. A few days later, they had four prototypes drawn up. They decided to make large panels, which hospitals could use to subdivide rooms, and isolate people with COVID-19 from other patients. Well, on Monday, panels made of fully recycled materials were delivered at no cost to several hospitals in the region, including Grand River, St. Mary’s and Guelph General Hospital.
Justin Trudeau: (02:13)
Dave and his team showed what Canadians do in difficult times. We don’t back down from a challenge. We roll up our sleeves, and we get to work. I know that this pandemic has been incredibly challenging for people right across the country, but we’re also seeing the best of what it means to be Canadian. From coast, to coast, to coast, businesses are retooling to produce face shields, ventilators, hand sanitizers, and other supplies our healthcare professionals need. To make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time, we launched Canada’s plan to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19 a little over a week ago.
Justin Trudeau: (02:57)
In the time since we’ve spoken directly to almost 3000 companies who’ve reached out to offer their help. Before we go any further, I want to thank all the owners, and entrepreneurs, and managers who’ve answered our call to action. This vital support comes at a critical time, and the way you looked around and said, not how can I keep myself safe, but how can I keep myself, and my employees safe, and help out in this critical time is a real sign of leadership, and a sign of what Canadians do best. In tough times we pull together, we’re there for each other, we put up our hands, and we ask, how can we help?
Justin Trudeau: (03:43)
I also want in the same vein to thank everyone who’s making shipping, and delivering these products. People who work on the manufacturing sector, and in terms of getting people the items they need, or on the front lines of this fight. Our country needs you through these tough times, and we thank you deeply for everything you do. [ foreign language 00:04:06] Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calco Group and Stanfields. [foreign language 00:04:54].
Justin Trudeau: (05:12)
When we announced our plan to mobilize industry, we said that we were close to reaching agreements with Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Bioscience. Today we’re announcing that we have moved forward with contracts with these three Canadian companies to make medical supplies such as ventilators, surgical masks, and test kits. I want to recognize the great work Minister Bains has done to make this happen. We’ve also signed letters of intent with five other companies, Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy group, Irving Oil, Calco Group, and Stanfields.
Justin Trudeau: (05:49)
We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks, so we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products, and that means making them at home, and we’re optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks. Today I’m also announcing that our existing next generation manufacturing super cluster will be leading companies in developing and scaling up new technologies to test, and to treat Canadians. Demand for these goods is going up, so we’re making sure Canada is ready to keep up. That’s why our government is also allocating $2 billion to purchase protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories.
Justin Trudeau: (06:36)
This includes things like more masks and face shields, gowns, ventilators, test kits and swabs, and hand sanitizer. Protective personal equipment is essential to protect our health care workers who are on the front lines of this fight. We recognize that more is needed, and everyone is working day and night to receive essential supplies. We’re coordinating with the provinces and territories, the public health agency, and the experts to make sure our health care workers get everything they need. This is a priority for our government, and we will continue to source new solutions every day.
Justin Trudeau: (07:17)
We’re expecting shipments to come in, in the coming days, and we will continue to work tirelessly to get these supplies to where they’re needed.
Justin Trudeau: (08:00)
[French 00: 00:01].
Justin Trudeau: (08:41)
There is no question that we will need more masks, ventilators and testing kits, but how many more we need depends entirely on you. If you stay home and follow public health recommendations, you can slow the spread and that means fewer patients in our hospitals, fewer people to test, fewer ventilators to use on critical patients; so keep doing your part and help us keep Canada safe.
Speaker 1: (09:12)
Speaker 2: (09:21)
Thank you. Merci. The first question, Laura Forest, Politico, your line is open.
Laura Forest: (09:29)
Thank you. Prime Minister, yesterday you were asked about pipeline construction continuing on the Trans- Mountain expansion and you said you’d have a better answer today. Now, Jason Kenney is saying construction will start on the Keystone XL Pipeline as early as April 1st. Do you have concerns about construction continuing on these projects? Do you think it should stop?
Justin Trudeau: (09:46)
I can assure you that Crown Corporations, all Crown Corporations are following all the best medical advice.
Speaker 3: (10:03)
Justin Trudeau: (10:03)
Speaker 1: (10:06)
Follow-up question, Politico?
Laura Forest: (10:10)
Yeah. I mean, that that didn’t really answer my question. I guess that means you’re comfortable with construction continuing.
Laura Forest: (10:15)
But my follow-up question is about the wage subsidy. You initially promised it at 10%, then last week it was hiked to 75%, but still seem to be targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses. Now it’s available to all businesses. I’m wondering why you’ve taken such an incremental approach to this measure given that you’re now asking employers to hire back people that they’ve already laid off?
Justin Trudeau: (10:36)
This situation has been evolving rapidly, as we all know. We’re putting in place unprecedented measures to respond to the needs that people are expressing on how we’re going to be able to get through this together, how we’re going to be able to stay home, self-isolate, not go into work, and yet still be able to pick up our economy when we’re through this particular crisis. That is the focus that we’ve had and that’s why what we’re offering is a 75% wage subsidy to companies, large and small, non-profit sector and charitable sector included so that people can stay on the payroll while they stay home and stay isolated so that we can ensure that we do bounce back strongly from this once we’re through this period.
Speaker 2: (11:27)
Thank you. Merci. Next question, Mike Mansfield, The Canadian Press. Your line is open.
Mike Mansfield: (11:35)
Good morning, Prime Minister. You talked about shipments coming in the coming days and the fact that more will be needed, obviously. I think what I’d like you to do is, can you walk us through your decision-making process around the cabinet table? How you decide how these scarce medical resources will be allocated in the near future? How precisely in detail do you decide what goes where?
Justin Trudeau: (12:02)
Thank you, Mike, for your question. It’s a very good one. I can tell you that we don’t decide around the cabinet table. It is not politicians who decide how resources are allocated. We rely on experts, on medical officials, on coordination between medical officials in all different provinces to make the determination on where things are most needed. We follow the direct advice of medical experts in terms of how to ensure that everyone everywhere has the equipment they need.
Speaker 1: (12:40)
Follow-up question, Mike?
Mike Mansfield: (12:42)
Yes. What input then are you looking for from provinces and municipalities as they struggle with this? Does this ramp-up of Canadian production, is this a reflection that this has to be a made-in-Canada solution? We can’t rely on exports, or imports from the United States, let’s say?
Justin Trudeau: (13:01)
We continue to work very, very closely with the provinces to know exactly what the needs are, what the supplies are, where potential gaps might be appearing depending on trendlines and different modeling. We are in constant communication to ensure that the resources needed in different parts of the country will get there exactly when they’re needed.
Justin Trudeau: (13:26)
On the second question, Oh yes, on procurement. The entire world is trying to get its hands on the various equipment needed to fight this virus. That is why we know that it will be important to be able to have made-in-Canada solutions and I am incredibly, incredibly proud of Canadian companies, Canadian suppliers and manufacturers who are stepping up and saying, we want to help, we will help make ventilators, we will help make masks and gowns and all the things that we are going to need in the coming weeks. It has been a truly amazing and inspiring story to see how many factories and manufacturers are stepping up. In the meantime, we’re continuing to work very hard on procurement solutions to get the items that we need for the coming weeks. Okay.
Speaker 1: (14:19)
Speaker 2: (14:25)
Thank you. Merci.
Speaker 5: (16:00)
Justin Trudeau: (16:39)
[foreign language 00:00:16].
Speaker 6: (16:43)
[foreign language 00:00:25].
Speaker 7: (16:50)
Thank you [French 00:16:30].
Speaker 8: (16:50)
Justin Trudeau: (16:50)
Speaker 9: (16:50)
[foreign language 00:17:40].
Justin Trudeau: (18:46)
Justin Trudeau: (18:50)
Okay. We recognize that people need money to be able to stay home and pay their rents and be able to buy groceries. This is a situation that is unprecedented and it was really important for us to get money into people’s pockets quickly. We recognize that there are going to be challenges around certain essential services and we’re going to work with provinces and we’re going to encourage people to find solutions that will allow people to stay safe while they continue to do the job they need to do.
Speaker 10: (19:25)
Prime Minister, I’m wondering, you’ve talked a lot and your cabinet ministers have talked a lot about there being enough protective gear for healthcare workers, but we’re hearing from health care workers that they’re being rationed and that they’re concerned that they’re afraid to go into work. How do you explain that difference, I guess, between their perspective and the government’s?
Justin Trudeau: (19:42)
I think one of the issues that we’re facing with is we’re looking at a number of different models where worst case scenarios are fairly dire, but the expected track is reasonable and it’s something we think we’re going to be able to manage. I think health care workers and everyone needs to keep in mind what the potential worst case scenarios are and that’s why it continues to be so important, not just for us, to prepare for every eventuality and be very careful and responsible about how we use the equipment we have, but also impress upon Canadians how important it is. That the decisions you make today, whether you go out and how you go out, if you do go out, will have a direct impact on the need that healthcare professionals will be facing a week from now, 10 days from now. That’s why it is so important for everyone to keep pressure off our healthcare system by staying home, by making sure that you’re making smart choices to keep us all safe.
Speaker 11: (20:45)
Justin Trudeau: (22:02)
Justin Trudeau: (22:05)
I think it’s extremely important for everyone to do their part in staying home and making sure that a week from now, 10 days from now, we aren’t overwhelmed in our healthcare system. We are looking at a range of models that could lead to different outcomes. We’re of course preparing for the worst case scenarios, but working towards and certainly hoping for a best case scenario, but that entirely depends on citizens being responsible in their choices. As for decisions made by medical professionals on managing the supplies that they have, I can only salute them for the work that they’re working so hard and the decisions they’re making to keep us all safe as a country and to keep themselves safe so they can keep keeping us safe.
Speaker 11: (23:01)
Justin Trudeau: (23:05)
Justin Trudeau: (24:00)
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Speaker 12: (24:12)
Justin Trudeau: (24:15)
Okay. We are, of course, working hard to make sure that we receive shipments of needed supplies in the coming days, and I can assure you that our embassy staff around the world is strongly engaged in exactly that. But that’s also why it is so important that we have made in Canada supply chains to provide us with this essential equipment, for the coming weeks, for the coming months and that’s why I am so pleased to be able to thank the manufacturers and producers across this country who’ve switched their production over to making this necessary medical equipment, because it will ensure that we have solutions, in Canada, that will cover our needs.
Good morning Prime Minister, Olivia Stepanovich, CBC news. The Americans are set to be most aggressively scooping up personal protective equipment on the international market. I’m wondering if you’ve found that to be the case, and if so, if you have prevailed upon president Trump to work together to come up with a common North American strategy, so you can quickly shift ventilators and other personal protective equipment across the continent to priority areas.
Justin Trudeau: (25:27)
We are working very hard to ensure that Canada receives the equipment that we need, both in the short term and in the medium term, creates production facilities to ensure that we can cover our needs. We understand that countries around the world are taking their own approaches. We will continue to coordinate as much as possible, but every step of the way our priority will be ensuring that Canada is able to take care of its own.
But are you working with President Trump on a North American strategy? And also can you tell us exactly how much medical gear has been deployed and delivered so far?
Justin Trudeau: (26:05)
We have been able to cover all our needs, up until this point, and expect to be able to cover our needs for medical equipment in the foreseeable future, but that is why it is so important for us to ramp up domestic production as well. And with the United States, we continue to coordinate on a broad range of issues.
Justin Trudeau: (26:31)
And how much medical gear has been deployed and delivered so far?
Justin Trudeau: (26:41)
That’s a question for the ministers, who will be addressing this a little later today.
Brian Mullin: (26:46)
Brian Mullin, Global News, Prime Minister, with rent due tomorrow, many small and medium sized Canadian businesses are worried about paying their landlords. What can the federal government do? Is rent forgiveness in some shape or form on the table?
Justin Trudeau: (26:58)
We’ve already worked with CMHC to ensure that many mortgages are able to be deferred. We’ve put more money in the pockets of businesses, or we’re putting more money in the pockets of businesses through this wage subsidies of 75% that will take off a significant amount of pressure. We’ve also made available a $40,000 loan for small businesses, through the banks, that will be interest free for the first year, and as they go through it, $10,000 of it, under certain committee conditions will be non repayable, at the end. So there are direct measures for companies to be able to get the liquidity necessary to get through the coming months, so that we can be strong once we get through this crisis, at the end of it.
Brian Mullin: (27:44)
Two First Nations communities in Manitoba and other communities are requesting military hospitals be set up. Is this something that the government is contemplating for remote communities with limited access to healthcare?
Justin Trudeau: (27:54)
We know that our military, the men and women of our military, are always ready to serve, to help in a broad range of ways, Canadians who need that support. Field hospitals is certainly an expertise that the Canadian armed forces have, and they will make determinations, and we will all make determinations about how we can and where we can best help, if it comes to that.
Molly Thomas : (28:18)
Hi, Prime Minister, Molly Thomas, CTV National News. Canadians, of course, are putting lots of money on their credit cards, they’re raking up interests. Last week, you’d mentioned that you had talked to banks about possibly deferring that interest. Any more movement on that?
Justin Trudeau: (28:29)
Those conversations continue with the banks. We’re also looking at ways of easing access to credit for individuals, so that they can shift their bank balances and their credit card balances to a lower interest line of credit. These are things that we’re continuing to work on, because we recognize that Canadians don’t want to come through this with impossible levels of debt, and we’re going to be there to help them out.
Molly Thomas : (28:56)
In french please.
Justin Trudeau: (28:57)
Okay. [ French 00:04:58].
Molly Thomas : (29:37)
Prime Minister, we’re seeing reports that after more than a year, China is going to allow Canadian exports of canola. Can you confirm that? And is this a thaw in relations between the two countries?
Justin Trudeau: (29:47)
I think we’re recognizing that we’re in a global situation where it is really important for countries to work together. We have seen promising signs of positive relations on specific issues, and we’re going to continue working to try and ensure that our farmers, our manufacturers, our exporters continue to have access to the markets around the world, even in this difficult time.
Molly Thomas : (30:15)
Justin Trudeau: (30:35)