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 3, 2020.
Before we get into things, I have two pieces of news to share with everyone. The first one is about the distribution of critical equipment to provinces and territories. For the past few weeks, our government has been working closely with industry to produce the supplies our health-care workers need, like masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators and test kits.
Today, I can announce that our government has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of this equipment to the provinces and territories.
[Speaking in French] Amazon will use its wide distribution network for the purpose of guaranteeing the delivery where medical equipment is most necessary.
The second news is regarding the Canadian Armed Forces. We received a request from Quebec for the Canadian Armed Forces to intervene for the purpose of helping isolated and remote communities. As I said, the members of the CAF are always ready to do so in order to fight COVID-19.
For a few weeks now, lives have been completely changed. We stay home, we do not send children to school. But some families are having an even more difficult time. If you lost your job, if you’re no longer receiving a paycheque, you’re wondering not only how you can pay your bills at the end of the month, but how you can buy groceries the next day. [end French]
Across the country, there are food banks that can help. But like most organizations, food banks are facing new challenges because of this pandemic. With everyone staying home, they have fewer volunteers and a difficult economic climate means they’re receiving fewer donations than they normally would–while demand rises. The staff at the Neighbour to Neighbour food bank in Hamilton told us they’re getting more and more calls, and it’s overwhelming for the volunteers who are spread really thin and working overtime to help their community.
The work being done by food banks and their volunteers is essential, so there’s no question that they need more support during this crisis. If you have the time and ability to help, reach out to your local food bank and ask them how you can help them. At the same time, I’m announcing that the government will provide $100 million to meet the urgent food needs of vulnerable Canadians, including those living in Indigenous and northern communities.
This money will help ensure that organizations can buy and deliver food to those who need it the most. It will help support organizations that you may already know. Like Food Banks Canada, Breakfast Club, and The Salvation Army, and many more. And on that note, I do want to take a moment to thank all volunteers and organizers. Thank you for feeding our communities, we see you, and we are grateful for the incredible, tireless work you do, even in these extremely difficult circumstances— especially in these extremely difficult circumstances. You are doing essential work for our most vulnerable. You’re showing what it is to be Canadian: to be there for each other in times of difficulty.
[Speaking in French] Today, I am announcing that the government will invest $100 million to meet the urgent food needs of the most vulnerable, including people living in northern and Indigenous communities. This money will help food banks to buy and deliver provisions to those who need them. Since the beginning of the pandemic, food banks have been facing specific challenges. For example, most of their volunteers are people who are retirees and who are more at risk of being infected. That means fewer people to serve a larger clientele. Food banks and charities are doing an incredible job in our communities and they do so all year long. I’m thinking of the town of Villeray, that I’m familiar with, where people are working very very hard to help their neighbours in my riding of Papineau. If you have the time and ability to help these days, I invite you to get in touch directly with these organizations in your neighbourhood. They need your help.
I know there are many of you who are going through difficult times. The pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainty and you’re worried. But I want you to know what our government will not abandon you. We are investing in food banks so that you can meet the urgent needs of your family during this crisis. And at the same time, we are offering financial assistance to people or their paycheques because of COVID-19.
We are introducing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that will give you $2,000 a month. Our government will also increase the GST credit to help people whose income is low or modest. We said that adults who are eligible will receive up to $300 or $150 per child starting in May. But I can now confirm that they will receive that help this month, in April. [end French]
Our government is also supplementing the GST credit to help low-income people. We had said that in May, every qualifying adult would receive up to $300, with $150 for each child, but I can now confirm that help is coming sooner — this month, in April, instead. Our government has also been working with major banks to deliver benefits, including the CERB, through direct deposit. Effective today, people should visit their banks’ website for information on how to enrol for direct deposit, if they haven’t already.
[Speaking in French] I know that many of you would like to know how much time this will last. You are wondering when you’re going to be able to see your friends, hug your grandparents or have people over for dinner. Last night, I had a discussion with the premiers of the provinces and territories. We talked about data sharing and projections. The good news is that many more people are being tested, and experts have more data to analyze. The provinces and territories are now updating their information and will be publishing the latest data very soon. On our side, we’re working very hard to verify the latest figures so that we can put them online. You can consult canada.ca/coronavirus to get the best updated information about the spread of the virus.
I’d like to be able to tell you exactly when all of this will be over. I often talk about weeks, and even months, but the reality is that it will depend on each of us. The best way to minimize the impact of COVID-19 is to continue to follow public health directives. You know them: stay home as much as possible, limit your movements, and if you absolutely must leave home, keep a distance of two metres from other people. Continue to do your part and I promise you we’ll come through this. [end French]
I’d like to close today with a message for young people and children. On Sunday, I’ll be holding a video conference, focused on you, with Dr. Tam. So send me your questions through CBC Kids’ websites by the end of the day, and I’m looking forward to answering you this weekend.
Merci beaucoup tout le monde.