Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered his daily briefing from Rideau College on the coronavirus outbreak. The following is the transcript of his remarks, in English, for March 19, 2020.
Good morning everyone, bonjour tout le monde.
Over the last week, we’ve seen significant changes in what COVID-19 means for the country. Every day we’ve had new updates for Canadians.
We’re moving fast because that’s how we will protect Canadians and the economy. I know it’s also a lot to take in. People are having to figure out how they can work from home or close up shop, temporarily. Parents are trying to explain to their kids what’s going on and why school is cancelled. Right now, the last thing anyone needs is to be worrying about how to make ends meet. People need to know they have support for their jobs, their businesses, their industries.
And that’s what our government has been focused on since day one. Yesterday we announced an $82 billion plan that will support all Canadians. That includes a whole range of measures. And people should be checking canada.ca for the latest information. Our team is hard at work with the public service and making sure these new supports get to Canadians as quickly as possible. They’re doing a fantastic job already.
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And I’ll have a long discussion with the clerk of the Privy Council later today to talk about how we can support our public service and make sure that Canadians can access these new programs. But the bottom line is this. We’re giving you more help when you need it. If you’re a parent, we’re here for you. Just like for the single mum of two who will get nearly $1,500 by the end of May because of the increase in the Canada Child Benefit and the GST credit. If you’re worried about making ends meet, we’ve got your back, just like for the family that was concerned about their mortgage and now doesn’t have to make payments for the next six months.
And if you’re helping others, we’re standing with you. Like with the Samaritan House in Brandon, Manitoba, that on Wednesday was able to open and deal with COVID-19 thanks to new funding. They were worried because their clients had nowhere to go since everything else closed. But now, with the new support, they can stagger entry to 10 people at a time, extend hours and stock up the food bank.
On health, we’re continuing to pull out all the stops to keep you safe. We’re moving forward on vital research for everything from better understanding how this virus spreads to developing vaccines and treatments. As part of the $1-billion fund I announced earlier this month, $25 million will directly support 49 researchers and their teams across the country. Their work is focussed own developing and implementing measures to detect, manage and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Across the country, scientists and researchers are working extremely hard. I want to take a moment to specifically thank them for all the essential work they’re doing. At the same time, we will expedite access to COVID-19 lab test kits and other medical devices. The reality is, the need for these test kits is growing.
Yesterday, Dr. Tam said that officials have now tested more than 50,000 Canadians since the beginning of the outbreak; 25,000 of those were done just in the last week alone. So while we ramp up, we’re making sure Canada is ready to keep up. Minister Hajdu and Minister Freeland will continue working with the provinces and territories so that everyone has the resources they need.
In times of crisis, Canadians come together. We’ve heard from businesses from coast to coast to coast who are telling us they want to help. Soon, I’ll have more to say about procurement and how industry can help with this effort, but until then I want to let people know that we are working tirelessly to keep our hospitals, health care system, and Canadians supported.
On that note, let me take a moment to recognize again the incredible work of our nurses, doctors, technicians and other health care professionals. They are on the front lines of this and they’re doing a remarkable job. We need to support them and keep them healthy as well. But even if you don’t work in a hospital, you can still keep people healthy. For example, we still need blood donors. So if you’re able, consider going in and donating. Book an appointment online through blood.ca, or by calling 1-888-236-6283.
I know people are worried about what the days and weeks ahead hold. There is no doubt these are uncertain times. But no matter what happens next, we can count on each other.
So keep supporting your neighbours by picking up some groceries for them if you’re already at the store. Check in with people on the front lines, like cashiers and truckers; pharmacists and hospital staff. Take the right steps like staying home and working remotely to help flatten the curve, and as you do, know that your government is right there with you. We’re working to slow the spread of this virus. We’re taking steps to support you through tough times.
There is nothing we won’t do to keep you safe and protect your health.
Thank you. Merci tout le monde.