Remarks updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and new privacy protections
A few days ago, I got a letter from Jonathon in Ontario.
He wrote to me because he’s concerned that Canada is on track to end up like the UK or France, where they’re facing skyrocketing cases of COVID-19.
For Jonathon, he’s thinking first and foremost of the lives of the people around him.
Jonathon closes his letter by saying:
“Whatever needs to be done.”
“I value the economy but I value my own friends, family, and fellow citizens’ lives first.”
Thank you, Jonathon, for reaching out.
I understand what you’re saying, and I totally agree.
But here’s the thing:
By putting the health of your friends, family, and fellow citizens first, you’re actually doing the very best thing to protect the economy, too.
We don’t have to choose.
We just have to act.
On Saturday, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta all saw record-breaking new cases.
Dr. Tam has warned that this may mean hospitals soon reach a breaking point.
In Nunavut, there have been outbreaks, too.
As the Government of Nunavut announced on Monday, a territory-wide lockdown will go into effect tomorrow morning.
No one wanted to see this news, but it was a possibility we had to be ready for.
Our government has provided a 3-month supply of personal protective equipment to Nunavut, just like the other territories, so communities are prepared if bad weather delays shipments.
We’ve also provided funding through the Safe Restart Agreement, as well as additional direct support for communities through the Indigenous Community Support Fund.
The federal government will continue to support the people of Nunavut, just like we will for all Canadians.
That’s exactly what I told the premiers when we met last week.
At the same time, though, I also reminded them that resources are not infinite.
Since March, we’ve sent more than 312 million pieces of personal protective equipment to the provinces and territories, including masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields.
We’ve also sent nearly 12 million swabs and hundreds of ventilators.
This is in addition to the more than $25 billion in funding we’ve given to the provinces and territories to support Canadians across the country.
Whether through the Safe Restart Agreement, the Safe Return to Class Fund or transfers for frontline workers, health care, and the North, we are making sure that Canadians receive the money they need.
We are also continuing preparations to distribute a safe, effective vaccine across the country as soon as one is ready.
On that topic, yesterday we received more encouraging news about a second vaccine candidate, the one made by Moderna.
Canada has already secured tens of millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate, along with a wide range of other promising options.
Like Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna has already submitted their vaccine candidate for Health Canada review – an important step in assessing efficacy and safety.
This is good news, but remember: a vaccine can only protect you once you’ve gotten the shot.
So until that happens, we all need to double down to get this second wave under control.
Particularly speaking to young people:
This virus might seem like it’s more of a concern for your grandparents than for you.
But even if you’re young and healthy, getting COVID-19 can be incredibly serious.
It could leave you with heart and lung issues. Or it could cost you your life.
I don’t say this to scare you.
I say this because we need to be honest with ourselves about what we’re facing.
You need to be wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and washing your hands.
You need to avoid gatherings.
You need to get your flu shot.
And you need to download – and use – the COVID Alert app.
If you get a positive COVID-19 test result, the first thing you need to do is open your COVID Alert app and enter the one-time code your provincial health authority provides.
This will – anonymously – notify people you may have been in contact with so that they can get tested, too.
Then, go straight home and isolate.
Don’t stop at the grocery store.
Don’t stop to say hi to a neighbour in their driveway. Go home.
And after you’ve done all that, call someone you love.
A positive test result can be scary – I remember how we felt after Sophie got her results back in March.
There’s uncertainty and anxiety, but pulling together and following public health guidelines will get us all through this.
For families, parents, and workers, I know things are hard.
But we can’t give up now.
Regardless of your age.
Wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands.
Get your flu shot and use the COVID Alert app.
Just like we did last spring, we will get through this winter together.
Our government will do everything it can to be there for you, for as long as it takes.
I would also like to mention that the new support measure for businesses – support for rent, salaries, loans, and support in the event of a shutdown – was passed by the House of Commons.
It’s now before the Senate.
As the Deputy Prime Minister said, we hope this bill will be passed quickly so employers and employees can receive the support they need as soon as possible.
I want to end this morning by talking about something else our government is doing to protect you and your family.
Earlier today, Minister Bains introduced the new Consumer Privacy Protection Act to give Canadians more control and greater transparency over how companies handle their personal information.
This includes allowing people to move their information from one organization to another, and the right to have their information deleted.
For companies that don’t follow the rules, the CPPA gives the Privacy Commissioner order-making power and the highest fines amongst G7 privacy laws.
Today, Minister Bains introduced the new Consumer Privacy Protection Act to give Canadians more control and greater transparency over how companies handle their personal information.
This is world-leading legislation.
This bill is based on the work already done to protect personal data and keep people safe online, including the Digital Charter, which was launched last year.
To rebuild a strong, resilient economy, protect jobs, and support small businesses as they adjust to his new reality, we must ensure that the Internet is accessible, reliable and safe.