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Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all those who have been affected by the forest fires in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.
This is happening in already a difficult time.
We are thinking of you.
And to all the firefighters and first responders who are working to contain the fires and protect people—thank you.
Although this has been a very tough few months, for many people, it’s starting to feel like we’ve turned a corner.
Businesses are reopening their doors to serve their communities.
Employers are putting new precautions in place to keep people safe.
And right across the country, business owners are using the wage subsidy to get back on their feet, and rehire their employees.
By using this benefit, employers have helped 2.6 million Canadians stay in the workplace.
These are jobs that people rely on to pay their bills, and to put food on the table.
Jobs that matter to Canadians and to their families.
Take Romer’s in Vancouver and Port Moody: they used the wage subsidy to rehire over 150 employees, and reopen their three neighbourhood restaurants.
Or Enable Education in Milton, who applied for the benefit, and were able to keep a team of 18 people employed and busy.
And that’s what this program is all about.
But even as things start to improve for many people, we also have to remember that some industries have been hit harder than others.
And if you work in one of those sectors, it might take longer to find a job.
In the coming weeks, we want you to be able to focus on finding work, not be worrying about your benefits.
Over the past few months, we have created a series of programs to help Canadians get through this difficult time.
Since the beginning, we have said that as the situation evolves, our response would evolve with it.
So, as I announced on Tuesday, we are extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
This help will continue to be there for you and your family.
We understand the challenges people are facing and want to give them enough time to find a job.
Of course, going back to work is not always simple.
With businesses retooling their operations to produce hand sanitizer, and people finding creative ways to stay safe, the last few months have shown us the power of thinking outside the box.
We are making several resources available to you, should you have any questions about procedures and measures to follow during the reopening.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has just published a series of public health fact sheets on its website that are an excellent source of information.
It has also launched an online space where businesses can share their experience and best practices, from tips on how to wear masks to advice on how to disinfect workplaces.
Going forward, that will serve us very well.
But by working together—as governments, businesses, and individuals—we will get through this.
Because finding new ways of doing things, and collaborating between sectors, yields great results.
In fact, for tech and agriculture, we’ve already seen that potential in action.
As people around the world start eating more plant-based products, we have an opportunity to bring together Canadian innovation and Canadian crops, and a chance to create good, well-paying jobs.
We’ve already invested in this space, with the Prairies-based Protein Industries Supercluster, supporting thousands of jobs.
But this industry is growing fast, so we’re not stopping there.
Today, I can announce that our government is contributing almost $100 million for the new Merit Functional Foods location in Winnipeg.
This facility will be a world leader in plant-based proteins, and will create good jobs in a fast-growing field.
And by using 100 per cent Canadian inputs, it will also support farmers who produce the canola and yellow peas used in Merit’s products.
Standing up for hardworking farmers, creating good jobs, setting up Canada for success on the world stage – these are things that our government will always get behind.
I want to end this morning by talking about Canada’s actions at the international level.
This pandemic has revealed gaps that persist and still affect far too many people around the world.
Of course, for many women and girls, health care inequalities are nothing new—this is their reality on a daily basis.
Even today, women and girls still have to fight for basic health care and die of preventable diseases.
And far too often, women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies is questioned.
Since our mandate began, we have made gender equality central to everything we do.
And that’s what we are continuing to do today.
This morning, Minister Gould is taking part in the She Decides Now conference and announcing that our government will invest nearly $94 million to support the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls.
This funding will help support a range of services, from helping professionally trained and certified midwives in Somalia, to addressing gender-based violence in Rohingya refugee camps.
If this pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for our country, it has also been an important opportunity.
To figure out what really matters in our communities.
To have meaningful conversations about how we can take care of those around us.
And perhaps above all, to think about what kind of future we want to build together.
We have the chance to shape our country and our world for the better.
And I know that we’re up to that task.