Prime Minister Trudeau and British Columbia Premier Horgan deliver joint remarks
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU (Prime Minister of Canada): Hello, everyone. Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for joining us today. I want to officially welcome Premier Horgan to Ottawa. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today, John.
We just wrapped up our very first in person meeting, which was quite productive. It was a chance for us to get to know each other and talk about issues that matter to both of us and to citizens across this country.
First, we discussed the wildfires that have been raging across the interior of British Columbia. I thanked the Premier for his leadership on this matter and reiterated our government’s full support in these difficult times. We’ve been working very closely with our provincial partners to help those affected by the fires. We’ve deployed the Canadian Armed Forces and provided beds and blankets from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. The federal government will also be providing significant amounts of financial support to the province through programs such as the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements to help the response and recovery process.
And just a few days ago we announced a new contribution to the Canadian Red Cross that matches the amount the Red Cross is spending on direct support to evacuees. This funding will help the Red Cross to meet the future needs of evacuees as they return to their communities. Rest assured that we will be supporting British Columbians as they recover from this difficult time and begin to rebuild.
I know all Canadians stand with the victims and the people of British Columbia, and we will continue to do everything we can to help. I intend to travel to British Columbia next week to affect those… to visit those affected by the fires and assess the extent of the damages.
We also spoke about the need to work together to end the opioid epidemic. Both Premier Horgan and I have heard heart-breaking stories from families torn apart by addictions. They’ve told us about parents, children and friends whose lives were changed forever after a tragedy. The opioid epidemic is an issue that cannot be ignored. As leaders, we know we have a responsibility to help people who are particularly vulnerable, and we are determined to work together to find lasting solutions to these problems.
That help is covered by the extension of a certain number of measures that our government has taken since the start of our mandate to ensure that the people of British Columbia and all Canadians can enjoy happy, healthy lives.
We also spoke about doing more to meet the needs of hard-working parents as part of our plan to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. Our government is committed to delivering affordable, high quality, flexible, and fully inclusive childcare for all Canadians. Our governments agree that childcare must be a top priority, and we look forward to working towards a shared, long-term vision where all children across Canada can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and childcare.
We know there are many other issues that represent important challenges for the people of British Columbia, particularly affordable housing. We are committed to working together to help families find a safe and affordable place to live and to combat housing insecurity and homelessness for generations to come.
And lastly, we spoke about the Premier’s upcoming trip to Washington. As many of you know, Premier Horgan will lead the B.C. delegation that will be travelling to the U.S. to discuss the issue of softwood lumber. I believe that he will be a strong voice for the people of British Columbia who have been free and fair traders and will provide valuable input as part of our negotiations.
Once again, I want to thank Premier Horgan for making the trip to Ottawa. I’m very much looking forward to working with you, John, to improve the lives of British Columbians and make Canada an even better place to call home. Thank you all for joining us today. I’m turning it over to you, John.
THE HONOURABLE JOHN HORGAN (Premier of British Columbia): Well, thank you, Prime Minister, and thank you very much for the warm welcome here in Ottawa today.
As the Premier, I articulated, there’s a range of issues that we wanted to discuss today, highlighted of course by the challenges of the wildfires raging in the central part of British Columbia over the past two weeks. The federal government was there from day one, offering assistance, and as the Prime Minister outlined, has been a great ally in this challenge for the people of British Columbia.
We also touched of course upon the critical issue of the opioid challenge, which is affecting all of Canada, but particularly aggressive in British Columbia where we have significant challenges, and I’ll be meeting with Minister Philpott later in the afternoon to talk about a range of issues on that front.
But it’s ultimately the commonality -- the things that we have in common that we discussed today -- the importance of having someone leading the country as Prime Minister who has deep roots in British Columbia is a tremendous opportunity for us on the West Coast.
Quite often, as you may well know, we feel isolated and alone on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, but to have an ally in the Prime Minister to talk about these critically important issues that resonate right across the country: affordable housing, access to affordable childcare, those are constants right across the country, and Canadians are looking for leadership, and I’m grateful to see it coming from the Prime Minister on those areas.
Ultimately though, I’m here after the first week as Premier of British Columbia, to make sure that we’re making a strong statement to Washington about the importance of a fair softwood lumber agreement for the people of B.C. and in fact for all Canadians. This is critically important to our economy and to working people right across British Columbia, and I’m grateful that Minister Freeland and the Prime Minister have taken an active interest in making sure that we get a softwood lumber agreement that works for all Canadians.
And with that, I thank you again, Prime Minister, for your warm welcome and the range of issues that we have in common. I’m very excited we’re getting to work on those in the interest of all British Columbians.