Announcing Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19
Hello everyone. Before I get to today’s announcement, I want to say a few words about travel.
We’re in discussion with Canadian airlines to help Canadians stranded abroad come home.
We will have more details to share, but the first flight will be picking up Canadians from Morocco this weekend.
As I announced Wednesday, Canada and the United States have agreed to stop non-essential travel, specifically for tourism and recreation.
Trade and commerce will continue. This takes effect at midnight tonight and Minister Blair will give more details today.
Further, today Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-U.S. border.
Over the past week, the entire country has mobilized to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Retired doctors and nurses will help out at hospitals.
The technicians administering the screening tests, and the researchers trying to find a vaccine, are working increasingly long hours.
And above all, people are following the recommendations issued by our public health agencies.
People are washing their hands regularly.
People are working from home and travelling as little as possible to protect their health and the health of others.
But it’s not just individuals who are looking to help their communities.
Businesses are also doing their part.
I think, for example, of the grocery stores that are opening an hour early to serve the most vulnerable and the manufacturing firms that are asking us if they can help.
Just last week, a number of companies across the country contacted our government to offer their assistance.
I want to thank them for their solidarity and their generosity.
This week, many businesses put their hand up and asked us what they can do.
So today, we’re announcing a new strategy that will make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time.
We are launching Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 to ensure that we can quickly produce here in Canada the things we need.
This initiative will help companies that are already making things like masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer to massively scale up production.
It will also provide support to those who want to re-tool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight.
For example, the Auto Parts Manufacturer’s Association reached out to us asking how they could help.
Our health care professionals really need support, so our government will help these companies shift production from auto parts to medical supplies.
We’re also close to reaching agreements with several companies, including Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience.
Minister Bains and Minister Anand will have more to say on this later today.
Our government is also creating new, innovative procurement streams to allow more businesses to develop solutions and products Canadians need because of COVID-19.
We will expedite these streams, so firms can get to work quickly and these products are ready to use as soon as possible.
Canada is home to some of the best innovators in the world and with this new initiative, we will harness their talent and know-how to get through these challenging times.
Over the past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received a historic number of calls from concerned Canadians.
We received over 500,000 applications so far this week compared to just under 27,000 applications for the same week last year.
I know people are anxious to get the help they deserve and our government is working as fast as possible to support them.
This is of course an unprecedented situation and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our system, but we’re on it.
Thousands of public servants are working around the clock to help you.
I know this past week has been hard on people, for many reasons.
Working from home while the kids are running around, not being able to visit your parents at their nursing home, not hanging out with your friends – it can take its toll.
But it is in these challenging times that we also see what we’re made of.
This past week, no matter how difficult, was further proof that Canadians are generous, kind, and compassionate and that should give us all hope.
We all understand our responsibility as Canadians.
We have to do the right thing – whether it’s working from home or practising social distancing – to protect our nurses, doctors, and everyone who works in our health care system.
To deal with this crisis, we need everyone – citizens, businesses, and governments – to come together and do their part.
That’s what we’ve seen right across the country.
I want to thank all the workers who are stepping up and all the companies who are making the things our country needs.
And if you own a business and you’re wondering what you can do, reach out.
We need your help. Canadians need your help.
And our government is ready to work with you to maximize your impact.
I will end this morning by addressing all those celebrating Nowruz today and this past week.
This is usually a time when friends and families gather around the haft-seen table and share a festive meal, but this year is a bit different.
To the many families who’ve been spending their first Nowruz without loved ones lost in the Ukraine International Airlines tragedy: know that all Canadians mourn with you.
I also know that many have had to postpone festivities because of COVID-19 and I want to thank you for that as well.
Social distancing is crucial in limiting the spread of the virus and if we do this now, soon we will be able to celebrate together.
In the meantime, I want to wish you all a very happy New Year – Nowruz etan Pyrouz – and I look forward to marking the occasion with you again in the future.
Once again, thank you for being here.