Canada

Trudeau's daily coronavirus update: New $350 million fund for community groups (Full transcript)

In his April 21 briefing to Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic, the PM announced new support for community groups and non-profits

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 April 21, 2020.

Good morning, everyone. 

I want to begin by noting Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today we remember the six million innocent Jewish men, women and children who were systematically murdered by the Nazis. We also pay tribute to the bravery and resilience of survivors and of all of those who risked their lives to save others during the Holocaust. 

This morning, I want to again extend my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible Nova Scotia attacks. Since yesterday, I’ve had the chance to speak with Constable Chad Morrison, the RCMP officer who was wounded, as well as Constable Heidi Stevenson’s family. On behalf of all Canadians, I thanked them for their service and their sacrifice. Yesterday, when I offered my sympathies to the RCMP officers who support me, I was amazed to see how many of them knew Heidi and had incredibly fond memories of her and worked with her on the musical ride; they remembered her as an extraordinary person. And it really goes to show just how tightly knit, not just the RCMP is as a force, but how close we are as a country.

I visited the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial on Parliament Hill to pay tribute to Constable Stevenson and to recognize the contributions of all law enforcement members to keep us safe. And I also spoke to a number of colleagues from Nova Scotia, both past and present, and sought Senator Stan Kutcher’s advice, both as a Nova Scotian and as a mental health expert.

These calls reinforced what we all know about Nova Scotia, that it’s a special place where people stick together and look out for each other. This week, we are all Nova Scotia. The families of the victims can count on the unwavering support not only of their neighbours, but of every single Canadian.

[translated from French] It’s now been a number of weeks that we’ve been asking everyone to follow experts’ advice to protect your health and the health of others. The lockdown, the social and physical distancing are an adjustment for most of us. But for some, the consequences of the pandemic are far more profound than a simple adjustment. The virus has had the effect of worsening the inequalities that already existed in our society. The most vulnerable, seniors and young homeless or people without jobs or single-parent families—they are all particularly affected by COVID-19. At the same time the total number of people who need help to get through this difficult period has also gone up.

Well before the pandemic upset our lives, charities were there for our communities. I’m thinking of PEYO in Park Extension that helps young people at risk or an organization in Saint-Michel in Papineau. As across the country community organizations, are an essential resource for the most vulnerable. And their mission in this pandemic does not change. But they need more support in order to help a large number of people. An expanding clientele. So the government is putting in place the Emergency Fund for Community Support today. This will be an envelope of $350 million to support community organizations and nonprofit organizations. Part of the money will go directly to small independent organizations and the rest will go through the national organization like the United Way and the Red Cross. This is money that our community leaders will be able to use to train volunteers or increase deliveries at home for the seniors or provide transportation services for people with a disability. With this fund, we are giving organizations more resources to adjust to the current realities and difficulties associated with COVID-19. [end of translation]

Long before this pandemic charities and nonprofit organizations were doing crucial work to help our communities.

 Their mission has always been to support people in their time of need, and that hasn’t changed. But COVID-19, is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on those organizations because more people need help. For example, back in March, one United Way partner in Winnipeg made and distributed 1,475 emergency kits for families, seniors and homeless people in just five days.

Organizations have also had to change the way they deliver services because of the rules that everyone has to follow to keep each other safe. Here in Ottawa, there are a number of organizations that are focused on serving isolated seniors. Usually they have day programs where seniors can socialize, participate in activities, eat well and maintain a connection to their community. That’s no longer possible because of COVID-19. So organizations are now delivering meals and providing support via phone.

In Toronto, Tropicana Community Services is now helping vulnerable youth access their COVID-19 benefits. It takes resources to make these kinds of adjustments. Resources these groups don’t have because they’re spread so thin trying to help as many people as possible. So to support charities and nonprofits in their important work, our government is setting up a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund. A portion of these funds will go directly to smaller independent frontline organizations and the rest will flow through national organizations like the United Way, Community Foundations Canada and the Red Cross that can get funds to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly.

This is money for things like training volunteers, increasing at-home deliveries for seniors or driving people with disabilities to appointments. With this fund we’re giving more resources to charities and nonprofits so they can adapt to the new realities and difficulties brought on by this pandemic. 

Our government is also helping business owners and entrepreneurs adapt to a new reality with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

This new measure gives qualifying employers up to $847 dollars per employee each week so they can keep people on the payroll.

Today, we’re launching a new calculator on the CRA website so businesses can determine the amount they can expect to claim through the wage subsidy. Employers will be able to apply as of this Monday, April 27th. Later today, Minister Duclos will be providing more details regarding the rollout of this program.

I want to turn now to some encouraging news on the innovation front. Our supercluster initiative brings together small-, medium-sized and large companies, academic institutions and not for profit organizations to generate bold ideas and innovate. So a few weeks ago, the Digital Technology Supercluster challenged its network of over 500 firms to come up with solutions to help Canadians get through this pandemic. They received over 300 submissions and they are now moving forward on a number of key projects.

Toronto’s DNAstack is developing a new cloud-based network that allows researchers who are looking to improve our ability to diagnose and treat COVID-19 to share their findings. Another company, Food-X, is working with its partners to develop an e-grocery management system to make sure our health care workers, seniors and others have access to fresh food, during this crisis.

Canadian innovators are among the best in the world and it’s great to see so many of them use their talents to help our communities. This is yet another example of what we can achieve when we work together as Team Canada.

[translated from French] This week and in the coming weeks, you can count on us to continue to find other ways to help you. We will continue to do our part just like you continue to do yours. It’s been almost six weeks that you’ve been at home, that you’ve been regularly washing your hands and that you’ve been keeping a two-metre distance from others. A month and a half is a long time, but your efforts are now bearing fruit. We’re seeing early signs, but positive signs that we’re moving in the right direction. And this is in large part thanks to you. So let’s all continue to follow the experts’ advice. And together we will get there. 

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