Canada's plan to support farmers and mobilize science to fight COVID-19
I want to begin by recognizing that a lot of people have now been stuck at home for a week or more because of COVID-19.
If that’s starting to take a toll – it’s understandable.
But we can’t afford to stop now.
I want to be clear.
Social distancing – physical distancing – is the single best way to keep the people around you safe.
What does that mean?
It means keeping two metres between yourself and someone else.
It means avoiding groups.
It means staying home as much as possible.
If you choose to ignore that advice, if you choose to get together with people or go to crowded places, you’re not just putting yourself at risk.
You’re putting others at risk, too.
Your elderly relative who’s in a seniors’ home or your friend with a pre-existing condition.
Our nurses and doctors on the frontlines.
Our workers stocking shelves at a grocery store.
They need you to make the right choices.
They need you to do your part.
We’ve all seen the pictures online of people who seem to think they’re invincible – well, you’re not.
Enough is enough.
Go home, and stay home.
This is what we all need to be doing.
And we’re going to make sure this happens, whether by educating people more on the risks, or by enforcing the rules, if that’s needed.
Nothing that could help is off the table.
Today, we’re launching federal advertising campaigns.
You’ll see faces that you know and trust – people from our cultural sector – getting out the recommendations from our health care workers.
Not having heard this message won’t be an excuse.
We’re reaching everyone: listening is your duty and staying home is your way to serve.
Every day, there are more and more people who step up and heed this call.
Just yesterday, Team Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Team made the tough decision not to send athletes to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
I know this is heartbreaking for so many people – athletes, coaches, staff, and fans.
But this was absolutely the right call, and everyone should follow their lead.
No matter who you are, if you’re doing your part, I want to say thank you.
You are saving lives.
And when it gets hard, know that your government is right there with you.
On Wednesday, we unveiled an $82 billion plan for people and businesses affected by the virus.
If you’re worried about making ends meet, we’re putting more money in your pocket.
If you own a small business, we’re helping you bridge to better times.
Tomorrow, the House of Commons will reconvene to pass emergency legislation and put this plan in motion.
For farmers, and people across the agri-food business, I know these are hard times, too.
So we are also opening up $5 billion in additional lending capacity.
Starting today, farmers and producers can apply through Farm Credit Canada for the support they need to keep food growing, and get it onto our tables.
On that note, I want to say thank you to people right across the entire food sector.
Day in and day out, you grow, transport, and stock the food that feeds our families.
Last week, we also announced a plan to mobilize industry so our hospitals have the medical support and equipment they need.
Later today, I will have a call with the First Ministers to discuss our continued coordination on quarantine and self-isolation.
We’re working together to ensure that everyone has what they need, whether that’s equipment for testing or medical supplies.
This evening, the premiers and I will also talk about continuing to move forward with measures to support families and small businesses, to ensure our economy rebounds.
For Canadians stranded abroad, we’re working with airlines to get people home.
People should be returning by commercial means while they’re still available.
Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, and Sunwing all have flights this week.
As of today, we have secured authorizations for Air Canada to operate three flights for this week for Canadians in Peru, and there will be two more flights in the coming days from Morocco.
We have also helped secure an Air Canada flight from Spain, as well as Air Transat flights, including two from Honduras, and one each from Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
If you are a Canadian abroad – register with the government now so we can send you updates and contact you.
You need to do this if you haven’t done it already.
Since the beginning of the crisis, we have used every tool at our disposal to manage the situation.
We are lucky: Canadian innovators are among the best in the world.
And they want to be part of the solution.
We are investing $275 million in COVID-19 research and vaccine development.
Vaccination and antiviral treatments are options we must absolutely pursue.
We see it with the flu—vaccines prevent people from getting sick, protect those who are most vulnerable, and ensure that fewer people go to the emergency room.
Today, I can announce that we are providing $192 million to directly support vaccine development and production in Canada.
We are investing in a long-term solution to COVID-19 right here at home.
Our government will be signing an agreement with Vancouver-based AbCellera to support their work on drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19.
We are also working with Quebec City-based Medicago, for vaccine testing and production.
At the same time, we’re providing funding for the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, for development and clinical trials.
Once there are promising options, Canada needs the capacity to mass-produce treatments as quickly as possible.
That’s why we’re investing in the National Research Council of Canada’s facility in Montréal, to prepare for the roll-out.
These are critical steps forward.
But we have to remember that vaccines won’t be ready overnight.
They will take months to develop and test.
So while that’s happening, we need to work to mitigate the impacts of this virus.
And luckily, we have the tools we need right here at home.
BlueDot, in Toronto, was among the first in the world to identify the spread of COVID-19, coming in nine days ahead of the World Health Organization’s public warning.
We have signed a contract to use this Canadian software to model the disease.
It will help us track – and therefore slow – the spread.
Minister Bains has also sent a call to action to every university, college, polytechnic, and CEGEP in the country.
Their labs have the resources and expertise to be part of this fight.
We have asked them to identify equipment they’ve got like masks and ventilators.
At the same time, we’re looking at innovative solutions they can be part of, including 3D printing of medical supplies.
Many institutions have already stepped up, and many more will do the same.
If you need more information, please go to buyandsell.gc.ca.
We need all hands on deck.
We all have a role to play in fighting COVID‑19.
Even if you’re not a paramedic or a researcher, you can still save lives.
By staying home as much as possible, by maintaining a distance of at least two metres from others when you do have to go out: you can make a big difference.
This is how you can protect yourself and protect our nurses, our doctors, and our health care professionals, who are taking care of those who need help.
We have to follow the recommendations of our public health agencies.
We have to trust them.
And we have to listen to them.
Yesterday, I took a moment to address kids directly. Today, I am thinking about seniors.
We all have loved ones who are at home, who are vulnerable. Call them and tell them you love them.
Personally, I’m thinking about my father-in-law, Sophie’s dad, Jean, who has been undergoing cancer treatment for the past few months, so we haven’t seen him very often.
Today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Jean. He’s 77 years old.
Let us all think of our seniors, think of our loved ones, and do everything we can to keep them safe.
That is how we can slow down COVID-19.
Thank you for doing your part.
And know that our government will continue working day and night to support you.
We are going to get through this, together.