Remarks updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and yesterday's call with premiers
I’d like to start today with a few words about the news on the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette.
Everyone deserves a safe and healthy workplace, and that includes all the people working hard on the Governor General’s team.
This is something I take very seriously.
Yesterday, I accepted Ms. Payette’s resignation.
This morning, I had a phone conversation with Her Majesty the Queen and I told her that the Chief Justice of Canada will carry out the duties of Governor General on an interim basis.
A recommendation concerning a replacement will be made in due course.
Monday will mark a year since the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Canada.
If you’re tired and fed up – that’s understandable.
But remember, this is not forever.
With vaccines being rolled out, we’re in the final stretch.
Canada is approaching three quarters of a million vaccine doses administered across the country.
And on average, the number of doses done daily is now almost 4 times more than what it was just 3 weeks ago.
In other words, we’re getting more vaccines delivered and delivered quicker; and these doses are getting out to more and more people.
Yesterday, I spoke with the Global CEO of Pfizer, Dr. Bourla.
The next few weeks will be challenging when it comes to deliveries.
That said, Dr. Bourla assured me that hundreds of thousands of Pfizer doses will be delivered the week of February 15th and in the weeks to follow.
He also confirmed that we will receive all of our 4 million doses from Pfizer before March 31st.
The current, momentary delay is so that they can increase their production overall going forward.
I’ll also add that we’ll get almost half a million Moderna doses in February, too.
We’re working around the clock to get as many vaccines as we can, as fast as we can.
It’s what I’m thinking about when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed, and every hour in between.
As we speak, the federal government is working with all orders of government to speed up vaccination efforts.
We’ve already delivered 1.1 million doses of the COVID‑19 vaccine to the provinces and territories.
And in the spring, we are expecting at least 20 million doses to be deployed.
I discussed this yesterday with the provincial and territorial premiers at our 25th meeting.
I know the premiers want to get as many doses, as soon as possible.
That’s my priority as well.
We are still on track to provide a vaccine to every Canadian who wants to get vaccinated by September.
At my 25th meeting with the Premiers yesterday, we also talked about border and travel.
My message to Canadians remains clear:
No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now.
If you’ve got one planned – cancel it.
And don’t book a trip for spring break.
It’s obvious we should avoid trips south and out of the country.
But remember, across the country people are being told to stay home.
So if you were thinking of travelling across the country for spring break, now’s not the time.
We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months.
We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.
The travel and border measures implemented by Canada are some of the strictest in the world.
They include mandatory testing before returning to the country – and the United States is now following our lead – as well as a mandatory two‑week quarantine.
With our new measures, there are now fewer flights.
But as I told the premiers, we’re ready to take even stricter measures if necessary.
Together, we discussed the range of options currently on the table.
Because when it comes to safety, no options are being ruled out.
While we work with the provinces and territories to carry out the vaccination rollout and apply the border measures, we are also providing additional support to our health care resources.
As I discussed with the premiers, we have to make sure that we don’t reopen too soon in this second wave.
The provincial governments have already made difficult, but necessary, decisions, and the case numbers have gone down in some parts of the country.
Our government will always be there for the provinces and territories when it comes to keeping people safe.
The spike in COVID-19 cases this month has put a real strain on hospitals.
For Ontario in particular, the situation is extremely serious.
When we spoke last week, I told Premier Ford we would be there to support Ontario with any assistance they need.
Keeping you and your family safe is our top priority.
That’s why our government is deploying two federal Mobile Health Units to the GTA.
This will provide up to 200 additional hospital beds, and free up space for people who need ICU care.
Each of the Units can also provide vital medical equipment and supplies.
Of course, right across the country, we’re also doing our part on testing.
We’ve sent 14.3 million rapid tests to the frontlines, with millions more on the way.
Everyone should have access to a fast, reliable test when they need one.
Finally, the Premiers and I discussed the new administration in the United States.
We had a great Team Canada approach with the previous administration, and that’s something that will continue to serve us well.
During our conversation, the Premiers and I talked about the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
I am, of course, disappointed with this choice.
To workers, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan who’ve been hit hard: we will continue to have your backs.
We will always stand up for good, Canadian jobs.
Canadians and Americans are more than just neighbours – we are allies, partners, and friends.
Together, we’ve faced some of the greatest challenges the world has ever seen.
So I know that we’re ready to work shoulder to shoulder to defeat COVID-19 and rebuild economies that work for everyone.
This is something I look forward to discussing with President Biden when we speak on the phone later today.
I know that President Biden and I, we’re on the same page when it comes to climate change, the importance of creating good middle class jobs, and the need to build a more peaceful, stable world.
For a long time, Canadians and Americans have stood together in the face of challenge and change.
Together, I know that we can continue to improve the lives of people on both sides of our border.
Finally, I want to end this morning by recognizing that this will be an especially tough day for the people in La Loche, Saskatchewan.
To everyone who lost someone, to the survivors, to the entire community –
You are in our thoughts and in our hearts.
I met many of you when I visited La Loche and spoke with students, teachers and community members.
Your strength and courage is remarkable.
In the last 5 years, we’ve worked together on new programs and resources for your school, and funded cultural and language-based programs, on-the-land activities, and mental health services for students.
I want you to know today, we will continue to be there for you.
Today, and always, Canada stands with you.
It’s just who we are.
People across this country stand there for each other when times are difficult and we will continue to be there for you.
Thank you very much.