Prime Minister’s remarks on Canada’s response to COVID-19
Thank you all for joining us.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen COVID-19 spread around the globe.
Here in Canada, 93 cases have been reported and on Monday, one person died.
Before we go any further, I want to extend my sincere condolences to their family and friends.
Our thoughts are with them as they navigate through this difficult time.
From the start, we have taken a whole-of-government approach to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep Canadians safe.
We are working very closely with our municipal, provincial, and territorial counterparts to mitigate the risks to the population.
Members of the Incident Response Group are meeting regularly to report on the situation.
Minister Hajdu and Dr. Tam are keeping Canadians up to date on the latest developments and are issuing recommendations daily.
Ministers Bains, Joly, Morneau, and Ng are closely monitoring the current and potential impacts of the virus on various sectors of our economy.
And Minister Champagne is working with our international partners and the World Health Organization to contain the virus globally.
As we saw an uptick in the total number of cases around the globe, we took additional steps.
Last week, we announced a special committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, to manage the federal response to the outbreak.
We’ve also put in place screening measures at airports. We’ve increased testing at the National Microbiology Laboratory. We’ve invested in research. We’ve bolstered support for health services in Indigenous communities.
But the reality is that the number of people affected by the virus around the globe keeps climbing.
Canada has been fortunate so far. We have not seen a drastic spike in the number of cases reported, but I know that people across the country are worried.
Worried about their health, worried about their aging parents, worried about the kind of impact this virus could have on their job, on their business.
Since Day 1, our government has been following the situation very closely.
We have a responsibility to make sure Canada is ready for all scenarios and we take that responsibility extremely seriously.
That’s why today, we’re announcing a comprehensive package to address the impacts of COVID-19 on our country and to keep Canadians safe.
Our government will be creating a billion-dollar COVID-19 Response Fund, which will provide money to the provinces and territories to deal with preparation and mitigation for the virus.
I want all premiers and all Canadians to know: Our government is here for you.
We will make sure you have everything you need.
The fund will provide $200M to support the ongoing federal response to the virus, including more money for things like surgical masks and face shields, increased capacity for services to Indigenous people and other federal healthcare responsibilities, and for continued public education efforts to Canadians.
It will also invest $275 million in additional funding for research and medical countermeasures, including vaccine development and support for clinical trials.
On the economic front, our government understands the disruptive impact the virus is having on businesses and workers.
That’s why we will waive the mandatory one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance to kick in.
We’re also introducing, among other things, special measures under the Work-Sharing program to help employers who fall on hard times due to COVID-19.
Let me be clear.
No one should have to worry about their job if they have to be quarantined.
No employer should feel like they have to lay off a worker because of the virus.
We can support you and we will.
Today’s announcement is significant, but we are already preparing to do more if need be.
Should businesses face a cash crunch in the short term, they can easily access credit to bridge to better times.
We will work with our financing crown corporations through the Business Credit Availability Program to protect jobs and to be there for businesses.
As we saw over the past few days, the outbreak is having an impact on the global economy. It’s affecting supply chains, commodity prices, our oil and gas sector, tourism, and more.
I know this is adding to people’s anxieties.
With a strong balance sheet and a resilient economy – Canada is well positioned to deal with these challenges.
Canadians can count on us to provide them with the right kind of support as the situation progresses.
Right now, countries with fragile healthcare systems are more at risk of seeing the virus spread.
That is why our government will also allocate $50 million to help countries that are especially vulnerable.
To address COVID-19, Canada is looking at the current situation from a global perspective.
First, we are making additional investments to ensure that our healthcare system and healthcare professionals are ready for all eventualities.
Next, we are working with our international partners to ensure they have the resources they need to prevent the virus from spreading in their countries and around the world.
I know that people are worried about what they’re seeing on the nightly news and what it means for their community.
We get it. And we’re on it.
We’re working with our international partners to contain the virus. We’re applying the lessons we learned during the SARS outbreak. We’re making sure our healthcare systems are resilient.
We are pulling out all the stops to make sure Canadians stay safe, healthy, and supported.
Canada is among the best-prepared countries in the world to respond to the situation we’re facing.
We will get through what comes next together.