Canada

Trudeau's daily coronavirus update: Essential workers 'deserve a raise' (Full transcript)

In his May 7 briefing to Canadians, the PM announced a wage top-up coming for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a daily update on the coronavirus crisis each day in front of his home in Ottawa. Here are his remarks for May 7, 2020.

I want to begin with a few words about the terrible helicopter crash that claimed the lives of six armed forces members last week.

Yesterday, I attended a ceremony in their honour. I was grateful to have an opportunity to pay my respects. I got to speak with mothers, fathers and stepfathers, grandparents, friends, sons and daughters, fiances, partners and loved ones. All of them were heartbroken. All of them were also immensely proud of the life of service chosen by their loved one. As are we all.

We will never forget their service. They will live on in our hearts. And I know the thoughts of all Canadians are with the families and loved ones who are going through an incredibly difficult time. We stand with them and we will continue to stand with them this time and time again.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces step up to help those in need, whether it be as a part of a NATO mission in Europe or in the wake of a natural disaster here in Canada. They’re always there for us, eager to help, ready to serve. And this pandemic is no exception when our government received requests for assistance from Ontario and Quebec, our men and women in uniform once again answered the call.

In Ontario, 265 CAF members have now been deployed to five long-term care facilities. They’re supporting our front line workers, caring for our parents and grandparents and bringing some comfort to their families.

If you’ve lost a loved one in one of those facilities, or if you have a loved one you haven’t been able to visit for weeks. You’re worried sick about what tomorrow will bring and you hope that they’re getting the care they deserve. Seeing our CAF members offer their help and talents during these uncertain times is a reassuring sight for many of these families. So, I want to thank all of those who’ve been deployed and all the front line workers who continue to work harder than ever. They keep our seniors safe.

[Translated from French] In the country, some 1,200 Canadian Rangers have been deployed to provide assistance in order to stop the spread of the virus in several means, including 200 rangers in Nunavik and the lower shore. And across Quebec we now have over 670 CAF personnel in 20 long term care homes with 350 additional members to provide support. We expect that next week there will be a total of 1,350 military personnel as part of that operation to provide support in 25 facilities. Long term care homes are the facilities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and our members are there to provide assistance. They are now looking after our parents and our grandparents. They are supporting the people who are there, including nurses and front line workers who are working very long hours in very, very difficult conditions.

So I want to take a moment to thank all our military personnel that have stepped up to lend a hand. I also want to recognize the incredible work that our frontline workers have been carrying out since the beginning of this crisis, not only in long-term care homes, but elsewhere. You are a source of motivation for all of us. You’re looking after our parents. You’re looking after the ill. And you’re taking care of us. You are fighting the good fight against COVID-19 and have been since the beginning of this crisis. And you deserve more than just our gratitude. You deserve to be properly paid for the essential work that you are doing. [End of translation]

Today I can announce that we have an agreement with all the provinces and territories to provide a wage top up for essential workers. For Canadians who are being called to work, to go to work every day. For Canadians who are providing us with essential services so we can continue to keep our families safe and healthy.

Right now, we’re finalizing the details with the last provinces. And I want to underscore that this has been a truly collaborative effort. Premiers from across the country all agree that we need to support our essential workers. And I thank the premiers for the continued Team Canada approach.

We’re relying on these workers now more than ever, and we will be there to support them. It will be up to each province and territory to determine who exactly qualifies for this wage increase, but the bottom line is this: If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you’re making minimum wage, you deserve a raise.

I want to close by noting that today Buddhists in Canada and around the world will mark Vesak, their most important festival. While this year’s celebrations will be a bit different, the Buddha’s message of peace, selfless service and compassion to those in need is more important than ever. I want to wish a happy and peaceful Vesak to all those celebrating.