Remarks on securing personal protective equipment and supplies
Later today, I will be in the House of Commons to speak about what I know is on a lot of Canadians’ minds.
I’ll have more to say then, but for now, I want to address the role that we, as leaders and allies, have to play.
As politicians, we must listen and learn about what needs to be done to fight racism, discrimination, and injustice.
Because being an ally is about taking a hard look at our existing systems, and being committed to doing the necessary work to fix them.
Our government is ready to take action.
Because what we’re now seeing, these are not isolated cases.
It is the result of systems that far too often tolerate, normalize and perpetuate injustice and inequality toward people of colour.
Not only across the border, but here, at home, in our communities, in our country.
It has to stop.
And those who have never faced racism or injustice have a very important role to play in all this.
It is our responsibility to acknowledge the injustices in our lives and to take concrete steps to show our solidarity with our fellow citizens.
As we move through this pandemic, I know a lot of Canadians are wondering when their community will be able to get back up and running.
The short answer is that it depends on where you live, and how things are going for your city or your region.
That’s why every province and territory has its own plan to restart.
But as I said yesterday, as a country, defeating COVID-19 is something we must do together.
Our government knows that, which is why I’ve been collaborating with the premiers on a shared approach moving forward.
Yesterday, we took a first step, with some funding for municipalities.
Of course, help for cities and towns is just one piece of the puzzle.
We know that provinces and territories also need support on securing personal protective equipment, and other vital supplies.
And here too, we’re stepping up.
Since day one, our government has been working around the clock to secure vital PPE.
Just take the fact that we’ve received more than 100 million surgical masks and nearly 40 million gloves, and are continuing to send a whole range of supplies to the provinces and territories.
Or that we’ve signed a contract for millions of syringes, to have the supplies needed once a vaccine is ready.
Working with suppliers from around the world is key to keeping Canadians safe.
But at the end of the day, one of the best ways to ensure we have what we need – well, it’s to make it right here at home.
Our government has been working with Canadian manufacturers to make that happen.
Over half of our face shields were produced in Canada.
Working with companies like Canadian Shield – which retooled to manufacture visors, and went from 10 employees to 200 – is a win-win.
Not only do we build our capacity to make these supplies at home, we support good jobs for Canadians.
And the same goes for testing.
We’re now funding four Canadian companies working on what may be breakthrough solutions for COVID-19 rapid testing – Deep Biologics in Guelph, Nicoya Lifesciences in Kitchener, Fourien in Edmonton, and Metabolic Insights in Kelowna.
This is on top of the support we’ve already provided for testing, including for Precision Biomonitoring as they set up a test kit manufacturing facility in Ontario.
We’re making huge progress, but we have to keep going.
As we restart the economy, demand for supplies will go up.
And Canada must be able to keep up.
So whether it’s N95 masks or ICU equipment, we will continue our work with the provinces and territories on the supplies we need going forward.
Whether it’s securing personal protective equipment or supporting municipalities, we will continue working with provincial and territorial premiers to keep people safe.
We have distributed hundreds of thousands of items to front-line workers since the beginning of the crisis.
But we know that, in the long term, one of the best ways of ensuring we have the equipment we need is to make it here at home.
So, over the past few months, we have made targeted investments to increase our production capacity.
Today, nearly half of our supply of face shields were manufactured in Canada.
We are also making progress in terms of testing.
We are now funding four Canadian companies whose work could lead to major breakthroughs for COVID-19 rapid testing.
We are also supporting Precision Biomonitoring, in Ontario, which is currently setting up a test kit manufacturing facility.
We are headed in the right direction, but we must do more.
As the economy restarts, the demand for these products will increase.
Which is normal.
So we will continue working with the provinces and territories to ensure they have enough personal protective equipment.
To support Canadian jobs, to restart the economy, we have to work together.
And it’s not just as governments, but across sectors, too.
Last month, we set up the Industry Strategy Council.
Led by Minister Bains and chaired by Monique Leroux, their mandate is to take a deeper dive into the specific challenges and pressures that different industries are facing.
Today, Minister Bains announced the Council’s membership – nine business leaders from across the country who each represent a different pillar of our economy.
This team will bring together government and industry to meet and discuss regularly, as we plan our path forward.
Since the beginning of the crisis, we have seen how important mutual help and solidarity have been.
But this doesn’t apply only to the pandemic.
There are so many challenges around the world that cannot be addressed by a single government or a single country.
Take climate change, for example.
It is a priority for our government and we will continue to take action to protect our children’s future and the future of our planet.
We cannot do it alone.
But the good news is, we don’t have to do it alone.
For example, the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which has over 100 members around the world, is doing incredible work to improve air quality.
Earlier, the Alliance, which was founded by Canada and United Kingdom, announced its new members, including the Desjardins Group.
Desjardins will become the first North American financial institution to join the Alliance.
Once again, Canadians are leading the way.
And our government will always be there to support initiatives like this.
I want to end this morning by recognizing that today is La Festa Della Repubblica, which is the perfect time to wish everyone a happy Italian Heritage Month.
For generations, Italian-Canadians have made our country a stronger, better place.
So it comes as no surprise that during this pandemic – just like always – this community is stepping up to help.
Maybe you’ve been taking groceries over to an elderly neighbour.
Or maybe you were one of many who helped raise $1 million for the Italian Red Cross.
However you’re lending a hand: thank you
It just goes to show that we are stronger together
The values cherished by the Italian community—work, family, generosity—are important to all of us.
Today and every day, we celebrate the many ways this community contributes to our country and to our lives.
Happy Italian Heritage Month.