Politics

Trudeau's daily coronavirus update: Nearly 5,000 companies 'step up' to fight COVID-19 (Full transcript)

In his April 7 daily briefing to Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic, the PM talked about how Canadian companies are retooling to make medical supplies—and mentioned a partnership with a Nobel laureate

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 7, 2020.

Before we get into things, I want to address recent news coming out of the U.K. My thoughts are with prime minister Johnson and his family during this time. I’ve worked with Boris for some time now, and I know how committed he is to serving the people of the U.K. He’s a fighter, and he’ll be fighting now to regain his health and get back to the job he loves. Sophie and I, and all Canadians, are wishing him a speedy recovery. To our British friends, Canadians stand with you. We will get through this together.

(Speaking French) Every time we hear that someone has been hospitalized because of COVID-19, we’re worried. But we must remember that we are not powerless in the face of this situation. Everyone can contribute to the solution, and you know what to do. Stay home as much as possible, even when it’s lovely outside. I know that it’s even more difficult these days with spring coming, but we must continue to follow that advice now if we want to be able to take advantage of summer in a few months. Only go out if you need to buy groceries. Even then, try to go as little as possible. And that applies to everyone, wherever you may live or what you do in life.

Having said that, some people are able to do even more because they have special skills or resources that we need right now. For example, we are offering full-time jobs to reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces. That way if communities need more support, we will be ready. Health Canada is also recruiting volunteers to help out our frontline workers and a few weeks ago we asked for help from companies to produce items that are very much in demand now. Since then, almost 5,000 Canadian companies have gotten in touch with us to offer their services. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you. It’s truly inspiring to see so many people want to help. (end French)

In the past few weeks, almost 5,000 Canadian companies have stepped forward to help fight COVID-19. On behalf of all Canadians, thank you for stepping up. As countries around the world grapple with this pandemic, the demand for critical supplies like test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment is going up. To keep our frontline workers safe and care for Canadians with COVID-19, we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products and that means making them at home. With our plan to mobilize industry, we’re helping companies retool, repurpose and innovate to fight COVID-19. We’ve already signed letters of intent with a number of partners to produce the things we need and today, we have more news to share.

We’re working with Thornhill Medical, CAE, Ventilators for Canadians, and a group led by StarFish Medical to produce up to 30,000 made-in-Canada ventilators. These purchases will help increase our capacity to make sure these life-saving machines are made right here at home. 

We’re also working with Nobel-prize-winning researcher Dr. Art McDonald, who is leading a team of scientists to develop ventilators that are easy to make. And to produce medical gowns and establish new supply chains right here in Canada, we’re teaming up with over 20 companies including Arc’teryx, Canada Goose and Stanfield’s. 

One thing that is particularly inspiring to see is just how many companies are not just producing these goods, but innovating. For example, Autoliv is looking to make medical gowns out of material that are normally used to produce air bags. 

(Speaking French) At the same time our government continues to purchase masks to protect our healthcare workers who are doing extraordinary work. We have ordered millions of surgical masks from a number of Canadian companies, and we are supporting Medicom, which will increase its production capacity of N95 masks. We are also purchasing disinfectant for the hands and Health Canada has authorized the sale of more than 85 of these products in Canada. Some items will take more time to manufacture than others but every single week, we are moving forward to increase our capacity to produce them. And I want to thank Minister Bains who is doing an excellent job these days.

I also know that a number of people are worried about a shortage of material, looking at what’s happening in other countries. I understand your concerns, particularly if you or one of your loved ones works in health care. But I can tell you we are doing everything we can to avoid that happening. (end French)

We are working around the clock to ensure that our frontline workers have everything they need to save lives and stay safe. While we’re working to secure critical equipment from Canadian sources, we’re also in touch with other suppliers around the world who want to sell to Canada. We’re expecting 500,000 masks from 3M tomorrow and we’re working as fast as we can to get them to our frontline workers.

From the outset our priority has been the health and safety of all Canadians. So whether you’re making medical gowns, delivering ventilators or treating a patient with COVID-19, we have your back. We’re going to be there for you.  We also have a three-point economic plan. It supports business owners while safeguarding jobs with the wage subsidy and helping those who no longer have a pay cheque with the CERB.

Yesterday evening our government proactively shared our proposed legislation on wage subsidy with opposition parties. I know House leaders will be speaking throughout the day to reach an agreement for the House of Commons to quickly pass this legislation, which will give much-needed financial support to Canadian workers, while helping employers to keep their staff on the payroll.

A lot of work has been done since we announced our plan to subsidize wages. We continue to rely on your input and feedback as we refine it, and we’ll have more details to share very soon. Yesterday was also the first day people could apply to receive the CERB. On that note, I want to recognize the tremendous work done by the public service, who processed hundreds of thousands of claims. They’re working around the clock to get Canadians the help they need as quickly as possible.

Finally, as some of you will know, today marks World Health Day and National Caregiver Day. This year, I’m especially grateful for our health care professionals and caregivers who are working day and night to keep us safe and to care for our most vulnerable. As Canada confronts this pandemic, many have pointed to our health care system as a major asset. Ours is a country where health is a right rather than a privilege, and that’s something of which we can all be proud.

But our health-care system is only as strong as the people it employs. Whether you’re a doctor or a nurse, someone who keeps our hospital clean or a home care worker, thank you for taking such good care of us. Thank you for everything you’ve done over the years to help so many of us start a family, overcome an illness and enjoy longer, healthier lives. We do not need a pandemic or a special day to recognize your essential contributions to this country, but I hope all Canadians will join me in expressing our deepest gratitude. I hope Canadians honk a little louder when your shift ends today and add another rainbow to their window.

(Speaking French) From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all the caregivers and health care professionals. Thank you.