Remarks on the COVID-19 situation and support for workers
Happy Friday, everyone.
I am pleased to have Minister Qualtrough and Minister Leblanc, and Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo with me, at a distance.
Yesterday, we held our 21st First Ministers’ call since the pandemic began.
In our meeting, the Premiers and I spoke about the surge of COVID-19 cases we’re experiencing right across the country.
This week, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan all set new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Yesterday, Ontario reported over 1,500 new cases – a record high for the third day in a row.
New projections are suggesting that the province could be on track for up to 6,500 cases a day by mid-December.
We also set a new daily national record yesterday with nearly 5,000 new cases in Canada, and 83 more Canadians lost to this virus.
We have to reverse these trends now.
Last night, we heard directly from the Premiers about the current challenges in their provinces, and about what further support they do or might need from the Government of Canada.
We all benefitted from hearing about the difficult choices different provinces are making.
For instance, Manitoba – which weathered the first wave better than most – is now getting hit hard.
On that front, I can announce that Minister Blair spoke with Ministers Schuler and Friesen of Manitoba earlier this week.
We’ve approved a request for support in their long-term care facilities until January 15, 2021.
The Canadian Red Cross is already on the ground assessing the situation, and is working with local and provincial authorities to determine their specific needs.
COVID-19 surges like the one they’re experiencing in Manitoba can happen anywhere.
So we all have to be vigilant in every part of daily life, and in every part of the community.
I reassured the Premiers that the federal government will always be there to help, but reminded them as well that our resources are not infinite.
Controlling the virus now reduces the chances of impossible decisions and choices we might have to make down the road.
Finally, we raised the need for further collaboration on distributing a safe, effective vaccine across the country once it’s ready.
On Monday, we got some much-needed encouraging news about a potential vaccine.
That’s good. We could all use a little hope these days.
But we also have to remember that right now, our fight against COVID-19 is far from over.
The vaccine won’t help you – or your family – if you get COVID-19 now.
That’s why we all need to keep working together to bend the curve, to protect each other, and to save lives.
Our priority right now is protecting Canadians.
In addition to having put in place measures to directly help families, workers and businesses get through the crisis, we are also helping provinces, territories and municipalities.
We know that this situation is difficult for municipalities that are on the front lines and continue to provide essential services on a daily basis.
As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government provided more than $1 billion to municipalities in Quebec.
In some cases, this money will help, for example, freeze taxes this year, pay down deficits, or improve public transit services.
Now is not the time to give up.
Yesterday we held another meeting with provincial and territorial premiers.
We discussed how we will continue to work together to address the pandemic and the eventual distribution of a vaccine.
Each province shared its experience and we continue to learn from each other.
We need to redouble our efforts to contain the virus and we will work as a team with all levels of government to do so.
I also took the opportunity last night to talk about the positive conversation I had with President-elect Biden earlier this week, and our Ambassador to the United States joined us to answer their questions.
Today, I want to announce that the Red Cross mission in Quebec’s CHSLDs will be extended until January 15, 2021.
To the members of the Red Cross and to the women and men in uniform: thank you for your work, your professionalism and your dedication.
To support Canadian workers and businesses during this second wave, we’ve extended the wage subsidy, created the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and expanded eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account.
Now more than ever, the labour market is evolving quickly and workers need to be able to develop new skills.
To help Canadians access training and services, we’re already providing $3.4 billion to the provinces and territories under the Labour Market Transfer Agreements.
Today, I can announce that we will invest an additional $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements.
This new investment will ensure quick access to training so that workers in sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 – as well as underrepresented groups like persons with disabilities, women and Indigenous peoples – can find and keep good jobs.
This is another step towards creating a million jobs and rebuilding an inclusive economy that benefits all Canadians.
Minister Qualtrough will have more to say on this important announcement in just a few moments.
The labour market is rapidly changing and it is important for workers to have access to the training they need in order to adapt.
Certain sectors of the economy have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the pandemic.
Our government wants to help these workers broaden their skills so they can re-enter the workforce quickly.
Today, I am therefore announcing that we will invest an additional $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements.
By improving employment and training resources, we are helping workers who need it to find and keep good, sustainable jobs.
A strong and skilled workforce will enable us to rebuild a more inclusive economy in which all Canadians will have a place.
I want to end today by recognizing that we’re coming into yet another weekend where many Canadians are being asked to stay home.
It’s not easy, but we can’t let our guard down.
I know you’re probably getting sick of hearing this, just like you’re sick of hearing about COVID-19.
It’s been a tough year and we all want this pandemic to end.
But we have to do our part to flatten the curve before it gets any worse.
So I’m asking you, yet again, to do your part, and follow public health instructions.
If you’re not exactly sure what those are in your area, visit your local government’s website.
Continue to wash your hands.
Wear a mask.
Keep your distance.
Get the flu shot.
And download – and use – the free COVID Alert app.
Many people with COVID-19 don’t know how they caught it, or from where.
That’s what makes the app so important: it notifies others and notifies you that you have come into contact with the virus, maybe without even knowing it.
As of today, over 4,000 people have already reported their positive test result by entering their one-time code into the app.
That means thousands more were then alerted and able to take proper precautions.
That’s a great start, but I know we can do even better.
So please, if you get a positive test result, enter your one-time code into the app, so it can do its work and we can all slow the spread of this virus.
On Monday, there was encouraging news about a promising vaccine.
It's nice to hear good news, especially these days.
We need to remain hopeful, but we also need to be aware that the fight is far from over.
I know there are many people who are tired of hearing about it.
They’ve had enough, they want to move on, and I understand that.
But we all know someone who is vulnerable. We all have our reasons to be vigilant. To want to protect our front-line workers. To know that we can and must do everything we can to reduce the spread of this virus.
We all need to do our part. Governments are doing their part. Local health authorities are doing their part. Our front-line workers are doing their part. But we can't do it without individuals, without families, without people making smart choices.
It's imperative that we reduce the number of cases now to be in the best possible position for the winter to save lives.
So I ask you to follow the advice of your local public health authorities.
Wash your hands.
Wear a mask.
Keep your distance.
Get a flu shot.
Join the 5.2 million Canadians who have already downloaded the free COVID Alert app.
And if you receive a positive test result, enter your code to alert others who may have been in contact with you.
It's not easy, but with a little help from each other, we'll get through this.
Take care of yourself this weekend and in the days to come.