Updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and announcing new supports for Indigenous communities
Today, Ontario released their highest number of daily COVID-19 cases ever.
This week, Alberta saw their biggest cases ever, too.
People on the East Coast are facing new cases and travel restrictions.
And across the country, hundreds more families are grieving the loss of someone they loved.
We’re in some of the toughest days of this pandemic.
Winter is coming. We’re being driven indoors. We can’t sit on patios and terraces like we used to.
We’re going to have to hold on tight. We’re going to have to be there for each other by keeping our distances from each other.
Avoid gatherings. Follow local public health rules.
And know that we’re going to get through this winter. Vaccines are on the horizon. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But we need to do what we can right now to make it through these coming months.
Last evening, I held my 22nd virtual meeting with the provincial and territorial premiers to discuss our joint efforts.
During the meeting, we talked about our COVID-19 response and specifically the measures we’re taking to support businesses and people who are facing targeted closures, support for communities that have been hardest hit, and our vaccination plan.
I will start by talking about our COVID-19 response.
Our government has already provided over $25 billion to the provinces and territories to help them improve ventilation in schools and purchase personal protective equipment.
We’ve shipped hundreds of millions of pieces of PPE, over 5.2 million rapid tests—with more to come—and invested over $25 billion to help the provinces and territories fight COVID-19.
We expect that this support gets to people and communities.
Because that’s who it’s for, and that’s where it makes a difference.
Just look at what federal funding through the Safe Restart Agreement has meant to folks in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
The city used part of their funding to help business owners who were having troubles with property costs.
It made a big difference for local employers—and their employees—during a really difficult time.
Businesses, cities, and provincial governments are facing tough choices about public health measures.
Our government is here to help.
In fact, this is something the premiers and I discussed during our First Ministers’ Meeting yesterday.
Already, our government has provided additional targeted support to communities facing significant outbreaks.
And we’re ready to do more as needed.
As I discussed with Premier Savikataaq earlier this week, our government is providing over $19.3 million in additional emergency support for Nunavut.
This will go toward everything from more PPE and healthcare staff, to getting healthy food on people’s plates.
The premiers and I also discussed vaccination.
The federal government, the provinces and the territories have been working together on this since May.
We know we have to develop a collaborative plan to provide Canadians with a safe and effective vaccine as quickly as possible.
We are receiving more and more promising news about candidate vaccines, so we are accelerating this work.
During our meeting, Minister LeBlanc provided more details on our plan in this regard.
As our experts explained yesterday, we are expecting to receive millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses early in the New Year, with doses for all Canadians throughout the year.
We will work with the provinces and territories, and with Indigenous communities, to determine how these doses will be distributed.
And we will be following the advice of the experts in our various advisory groups, which are made up of the country’s best scientists in these areas.
All of our decisions are guided by recommendations from the best experts and scientists.
Canada is well prepared for large-scale rollouts of vaccines, but this will be the biggest immunization in the history of the country.
We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live.
Right now, we’re working closely with the provinces and territories, as well as Indigenous communities, to ensure readiness to receive—and distribute—these vaccines.
To assist in this process, we are standing up a National Operations Centre through the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the support of the Canadian Armed Forces, to coordinate logistics and distribution of vaccines.
Major General Dany Fortin will be heading up the logistics and operations within the centre.
Major General Fortin is a seasoned officer, the Chief of Staff of Canadian Joint Operations Command, and served as Commander of NATO Mission in Iraq.
The Canadian Armed Forces will assist on planning, including to meet challenges like cold storage requirements, data-sharing, and reaching Indigenous and rural communities.
For our part, the federal government has already purchased freezers to work for specific vaccine candidates.
This will be a major effort.
But together Canada can, and will, do this.
In our meeting, the premiers spoke about the need to work in partnership with the federal government.
They also brought up the fact that in certain cases, they will need support to ensure that everyone is reached—including vulnerable people and Indigenous people.
When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.
We’re in this together.
And the more we work as a team, the better we’ll do.
So to everyone, to all Canadians:
Continue to wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands.
Avoid large gatherings and don’t forget about one of the easiest ways to join the Team Canada effort: by downloading the COVID Alert app.
Over five and a half million people are now using the app.
And just yesterday, the Northwest Territories was the latest to bring COVID Alert fully on board.
No matter where you live—even if you’re in the North or the Atlantic, where cases are fairly low—download COVID Alert.
This is literally a tool in your pocket to fight this virus.
To the young people:
If you have not already done so, download the COVID Alert app on your phones.
And if your parents or grandparents are having trouble downloading it, help them out, just like you help them turn up the sound on their Zoom calls.
We can all help ensure the safety of those around us.
For young people across the country, I have a teenager and a pre-teen at home and I can tell you, they’re always on their devices.
Young people need to download the COVID Alert app.
It’s a way of helping your parents, your grandparents. It’s a way of making sure that you’re doing your part—hassle free—to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.
It will take a second to download. It’s free. It protects your privacy and it helps concretely in combatting this virus.
So please, do your part, download the app, and help your parents and grandparents download it as well.
We’re over 25 per cent uptake in terms of available smartphones, but we can do even better than that. As we look toward the coming months, we need to use all the tools we have and COVID Alert is yet another tool in our toolbox.
This morning, I also want to speak about something else we’re doing to keep people safe and set everyone up for success.
This coming January will mark a year since Bill C-92 came into effect to affirm the rights of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities to exercise jurisdiction over their children and families.
This co-developed legislation is about putting kids first, having fewer children in care, and reuniting more families.
To do that, Indigenous communities must be in the driver’s seat.
Since January, we’ve worked with partners to move forward on the reforms needed to child and family services.
And today, we’re taking the next step in this process.
Our government is investing $542 million to Indigenous communities to exercise full jurisdiction over child and family services.
This is vital to moving forward on our promise to address the unacceptable injustices that too many kids and families have faced in the care system.
Today, I am announcing that our government will invest $542 million in Indigenous communities to help them exercise full jurisdiction over child and family services.
This investment is in addition to the $3 billion we have already invested to provide predictable, flexible, and long-term funding to ensure the delivery and modernization of child and family services.
Our government will continue working in partnership with Indigenous communities to fill existing gaps and continue on the path to reconciliation.
I would like to end by pointing out that we are now less than a month away from the holidays.
I know that December will be difficult for a lot of people, but don’t forget that this situation is not permanent.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And until we reach it, we have to hold on a little longer.
People working hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, and grocery stores need our help to ensure they stay safe.
Their families are counting on us to help keep their mothers, brothers, and daughters safe.
So, follow local public health guidelines.
Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, and avoid gatherings.
Download the COVID Alert app.
And don’t forget that you are not alone.
Whether you’re a parent or a business owner, you don’t have to face this crisis alone.
If you need support while you look for work, we’ve introduced the Canada Recovery Benefit and enhanced EI.
If you need to take care of a family member or stay home from work because you’re sick, we’ve created the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
If you own a small business, we’ve launched new support on rent, expanded the Canada Emergency Business Account loans, and extended the wage subsidy.
On Monday, we’ll be releasing our Fall Economic Statement.
We’ll have more to say then about what else we’re doing to support you through this pandemic, and rebuild a strong, resilient economy for everyone.
But for now, I want you to know that we’re here for you.
For today, for tomorrow, and for as long as you need to get through this. We have your back.