This is a transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Sunday briefing on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. 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.
[speaking in French] It has now been several weeks since our public health experts asked Canadians to help them stop the spread of COVID-19. That has meant working from home, cancelling family evenings or moving online, limiting our movements and avoiding gatherings. I know this is not always easy so I need to say thank you. We all make sacrifices to protect not only our health but other people’s health. This is what people do, and it is reassuring, but we have to continue.
I want to thank the people working overtime to keep us safe and keep the country moving. Hospital staff, border agents, store clerks, cashiers, postal workers, delivery folks, pharmacists, cleaning staff, first responders, truck drivers, train conductors and so many others. They’ve been working every day so we can work from home and practice social distancing. Thank you for being there for us. Know that all Canadians are grateful for your service.
I know that many of you are worried about what might happen next. You’re wondering how long this is going to last, you’re wondering about your job, and your savings. You’re worried about your kids not being in school, and we get it. These are uncertain times, and families across the country are concerned. That’s why this week we took important steps to support Canadians, protect jobs and limit the spread of the virus. We unveiled an $82 billion plan to help people in businesses who’ve fallen on hard times because of COVID-19. As part of this plan, we want to boost the Canada Child Benefit, introduce new benefits to help people who don’t qualify for employment insurance, and supplement the GST credit amongst many other things. Our government also announced new funding for research, and a new strategy to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19.
After conversations with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I can now confirm that the House of Commons will be recalled on Tuesday at noon so we can pass emergency legislation that will put our plan into motion. On that note, I want to thank the House leaders for their co-operation, and the members of the Opposition for their efforts as we work together to slow the spread of this virus.
I know that together, we can protect Canadians, save jobs, and set the groundwork for our economy to rebound after this crisis.
[speaking in French] On top of our economic strategy we have announced new restrictions for travelling and we have temporarily closed our borders to international travellers. We have also made an agreement with the United States to prohibit non-essential movements between our two countries and we are encouraging Canadians who are abroad to come home. But many people are in difficulty to find a flight to fly back to Canada and yesterday (we) announced our government would be working with Canadian airlines for the purpose of making this easier for Canadians to come back home. And the first flight from Morocco with Air Canada has arrived last night, and other flights will be added. And Westjet has announced that from Monday to Wednesday, more than 30 flights are planned for the purpose of taking Canadians back home. Air Transat is working at the moment with Global Affairs in order to plan flights where the airspace is closed, and thousands of people might be brought back over the next few days. When there is spots left on Sunwing, the flight is free for people who need it.
You can find more details of what we’ve announced so far on the government website at canada.ca. And since there’s more support coming this week, that’s where you’ll find all the information you need, and the help you deserve.
[speaking in French] We’re facing an unknown situation without precedent and if you cannot talk with somebody or if you’re abroad and you cannot find a flight, well this of course course trigging anxiety. I can assure you the whole of our civil service is working 24/7 to provide you the help that you deserve. And from the beginning we told you that we would have your backs, and that the government would spare no effort to support you. We went through several important steps over the last few weeks, but work continues. We won’t let you down, and you can count on us.
I want to thank you all for helping us slow the spread of COVID-19. To those of you who usually spend your Sundays in a place of worship, thank you for staying home today. I know it’s not easy, but it is deeply appreciated. And to all the kids out there, all of a sudden you’ve heard you can’t go on playdates or have sleepovers. Your playgrounds and schools have closed, and your March Break was certainly different than what you’d hoped for. I get it from my kids as well, they’re watching a whole lot more movies, but they miss their friends, and at the same time they’re worried about what’s going on our there in the world and what their future may hold. I know this is a big change but we have to do this not just for ourselves, but for our grandparents, our nurses, our doctors and everyone working at our hospitals. And you kids are helping a lot. The doctors and scientists have been clear that social distancing — which means staying at least two metres apart, and staying home as much as possible — is the best way to help each other. And you’re having to wash your hands a lot. So a special thanks to all you kids. Thank you for helping your parents work from home. For sacrificing your usual day, for doing math class around the kitchen table, and for trusting in science. We’re going to have more to say to you soon, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, let’s make sure we all do our part. Let’s fight this together. Merci beacoup tout let monde.