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Prime Minister’s remarks announcing new supports for Indigenous peoples and communities and new investments in COVID-19 research

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Good Friday everyone.

I’m happy to be joined today by Minister Miller and by Minister Hussen, virtually.

Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo are also here to present updated COVID-19 public health models.

We’ve learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic and we now have a much better understanding of how the virus behaves.

That means we know what steps to take to protect ourselves and others.

You’re wearing masks, you’re washing your hands, and by the millions, you are downloading the COVID-19 app.

These measures help, so keep it up.

But let’s not forget that right now, our most powerful tool remains social distancing.

As Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo will outline in a few minutes, in communities where the cases are rising quickly, we need to keep our contacts as limited as possible.

This is what it will take to slow the spread of the virus.

So when you’re thinking of seeing people outside your household, ask yourself: “is this absolutely necessary?”

I know the situation is frustrating.

I know that it’s hard.

But it is temporary.

If we work together, cases will go down again.

We’re not alone in this.

We’ve got each other’s backs.

So if you’re struggling with mental health or other challenges, reach out.

You can always call 2-1-1, a 24-hour helpline.

They will connect you to the right information, services, and resources.

We will beat this virus, we will weather this storm, but we need to do it together by working together.

With rising cases in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, we’re following the situation very closely.

Yesterday, I spoke to Premier Kenney and I also had a call with Mayor Iveson of Edmonton.

Our priority right now is working together to keep Canadians safe. 

This week, the country passed a tragic milestone, with more than 10,000 people now having died of COVID-19.

Those who have succumbed to the virus are more than just numbers on a data sheet.

They were parents, grandparents, friends, loved ones.  

We must continue to follow instructions from local public health authorities.

Our projections indicate that we must minimize social contact in order to slow the spread of the virus.

I know this is tough.

People miss going to their gyms, which have been temporarily closed, and they are eager to organize dinner parties with friends.

These measures are temporary until the situation is brought back under control.

We—the federal government and other levels of government—are aware of the efforts you are being asked to make.

But it is critical that we continue to work together.

For our part, we are continuing to support the provinces and territories in their fight against the virus.

Up to now, we have distributed close to 1.6 million rapid test kits across the country and more will follow in the weeks and months to come.

The last few weeks have been tough for everyone, but for some people, things have been especially hard.

Indigenous Peoples and communities continue to face unique challenges during this pandemic.

Our government is working in partnership with communities to address that and to ensure that everyone has the support they need.

Access to safe and culturally relevant early learning and childcare is essential to the recovery of Indigenous communities from COVID-19.

To support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children, we will invest over $120 million to help Indigenous communities address their most critical needs, including hiring additional staff and offering training for early learning and childcare facilities.

Today, I can also announce that we will invest over $25 million to help Indigenous post-secondary institutions with increased costs related to the pandemic.

This will help retain staff, adapt courses for online learning, and implement public health and safety measures, like additional hand washing stations and safe space barriers.

Finally, to keep people of every age safe, we will also provide $59 million to improve infrastructure in First Nations communities in order to meet a range of COVID-19 health and safety standards.

This builds on the work already being done through the Indigenous Community Support Fund.

Moving forward, we will continue to work with communities on what they need to protect people from this virus.

From the outset, our fight against COVID-19 has been guided by science.

Our government is working very closely with the scientific community to address urgent needs, while adopting the tools it needs to better fight other potential pandemics.

In this regard, we are pleased to announce a new investment through the National Research Council of Canada that will go to the Pandemic Response Challenge Program and the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.

Six research and development projects were selected, some of which are seeking to develop rapid tests for detecting COVID-19 using saliva samples without instruments.

In addition to this new investment from the National Research Council of Canada, we will also invest $2.5 million in a study on the rate of COVID-19 infection in travellers entering the country.

These funds will allow researchers from McMaster University to continue their important work.

This is part of our commitment to keep people safe and to support Canadian scientists.

Our government is working hard so that workers, families, and business owners are not left to face this crisis on their own.

Earlier this month, we announced that we would be strengthening and adjusting support programs that help businesses and workers.

Not only is this the right thing to do, but these measures are also essential to best position ourselves for a rapid and robust recovery.

To rebuild a stronger economy, we need to have enough workers to maintain supply chains, allow businesses to expand, and create more jobs for Canadians.

Whether in long-term care homes, the tech sector, or local restaurants, this crisis has highlighted the important contributions that newcomers make to our communities.

So many sectors of our economy rely on their talent and dedication.

Today, Minister Mendicino will present a plan on immigration and citizenship to help with our short-term economic recovery, while also ensuring Canada’s long-term prosperity.

We must continue to pursue measured and responsible growth in this area to drive Canada’s successes.

I look forward to hearing more from the Minister in his announcement later this afternoon.

As we get ready for the weekend, I want to reiterate how important it is that we continue our efforts to suppress the second wave.

Yesterday, the country recorded close to 3,000 new cases.

The situation is serious, and now is not the time to give up.

Wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands, and download the free COVID Alert app, as nearly 5 million other Canadians have already done.

This morning, I also want to mention that as of today, the COVID Alert app has been updated to be even more effective.

If you test positive, you can now enter the date your symptoms started and when you got tested.

This will provide even better information about when people may have been the most infectious, further strengthening the impact and accuracy of this app.

As always, these new features are optional and the information provided will not be shared, in order to protect your privacy.

So if you haven’t already, join the almost 5 million Canadians who have downloaded the free COVID Alert app from the App Store or from Google Play.

Finally, I want to end today by congratulating Rodger Cuzner for his nomination as the new Consul General of Canada in Boston.

Everyone who knows Rodger knows what a strong representative he is.

I’m certain he will do a great job strengthening the important bond between Canada and New England and standing up for Canadian interests on the other side of the border.

Thank you everyone.