The following is a transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s March 24, 2020, briefing on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. These are his remarks in English. Trudeau conducts a daily update for reporters in front of his home in Ottawa, where he is in 14-day isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.
My apologies for being a little delayed this morning. It was important that I speak with all three opposition leaders because I’m unable to join them this afternoon as the House of Commons reconvenes to pass emergency legislation on COVID-19. This legislation will help ensure Canadians will get the support they need during these challenging times.
No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, COVID-19 is having a real impact on your life. Small businesses are temporarily closing up shop. Hotels and restaurants can no longer accept guests. Some people are not getting paid, others are worried about their job. Whatever your situation may be, our government is here to help. Passing this bill today means getting you the support you deserve as soon as possible.
When you’re trying to help get money out to people, speed is of the essence, especially in an unprecedented situation like this one. But I want to make it very clear: I believe in our democratic institutions. All of us in parliament must work together, and Canadians need to see us doing just that. So, you have my unwavering commitment. We will protect and uphold democratic values. We will protect and uphold democratic institutions as we deliver support to Canadians as quickly as possible.
A lot of Canadians abroad are still having trouble finding a flight to bring them home. So I want to give everyone an update. At least one more flight from Morocco has been scheduled. The first flight from Peru will leave today and we’re working on flights from Panama, Tunisia, Ukraine, in addition to the flights we’ve already announced from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Spain.
On that note, I want to thank the flight attendants, pilots, border agents and airport staff who’ve all played a crucial role in bringing Canadians home. They’ve been on the frontlines of this crisis for weeks. But they continue to show up to work and bring families together.
Just this past week nearly one million Canadians travelled home to Canada. This would not have been possible without the people who work at our airports, at the border and at our ports. So on behalf of all Canadians, thank you. We see how hard you’re working and we deeply appreciate it.
Every day someone asks me how long these restrictions will be in place and the truth is we don’t know yet. But here is what we do know. The duration of this crisis will be determined by the choices we make right now. By decisions we take every single day. So if you want things to get back to normal, do your part, stay home.
And if you’re just returned from abroad, go straight home from the airport and do not leave for at least 14 days. This is not a suggestion. You cannot pick up groceries or visit your parents or your friends. You need to go home and stay there.
If people do not follow these guidelines, we will put much more stringent measures in place.
Since the beginning, I have been in constant communication with the first ministers. We had another call last night and we agreed that we have to keep collaborating to insure that all regions have what they need, including testing equipment and medical supplies.
We discussed the range of challenges being faced and overcome across the country. We talked about working even more closely together to do more to keep Canadians safe. We also talked about the emergency measures that have been put in place at the provincial and territorial level.
The federal Emergencies Act is a last resort, but as I keep saying, all options are on the table. If people do not comply with expert advice and government guidelines, we will have to take additional steps.
Right now, there are people who are still going to work because they have to. Pharmacists, delivery folks, postal workers, custodial staff, truck drivers and many, many more are keeping the country running.
They deserve our thanks for everything they do. But these people are more than just their job. They’re somebody’s mom or granddad, somebody’s best friend or favourite colleague, so please, for them, stay home.
And do it for the health care workers who we can’t afford to lose during the biggest public health crisis our country has ever seen. Because here’s the hard truth: if our nurses and doctors have COVID-19, they can’t help you.
They won’t be able to treat you or your loved ones if you get sick.
This is serious. The decisions you make have serious consequences, not just on your community but on the entire country. So do your part.
That’s how we will keep each other safe.