Remarks updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and support for Canadian businesses
I want to begin today with a few words about travel and travellers.
For nearly a year, Canada’s borders have been closed to foreign travellers.
Our border measures are strong, they’re tailored to the evolving situation, and they’re working.
We know that, currently, there is only a small percentage of cases coming from Canadians returning to the country.
That being said, I want to be very clear: each case is one case too many.
As I’ve said, it’s not the time to travel, especially not during the upcoming spring break.
All options are on the table, and we will be announcing new measures very soon.
Avoid all non-essential travel, whether it’s abroad or to another province.
Cancel your vacation plans down south.
There will be other opportunities to travel – at a more appropriate time that’s even more enjoyable for you – once the pandemic is under control.
I know that the winter is long and the time goes slowly, but we must continue our efforts.
Canada has some of the strictest travel and border measures in the world. We’ve closed the borders since March to everyone for whom Canada is not home.
We have a two-week quarantine for everyone returning to the country.
And we now have a mandatory negative test before flying home.
These measures work.
They’re saving lives.
And that’s why our friends and allies are following suit.
Just take the United States, where they’ve recently adopted the same requirement for a negative test before flying back into the country.
We’re doing whatever it takes to keep Canadians safe.
As I’ve said before – when it comes to protecting you and your family – nothing is off the table.
We will not hesitate to take even tougher measures if and when they’re needed and we’ll be making an announcement in the coming days.
The bad choices of a few will never be allowed to put everyone else in danger.
Of course, travel is only one part of the equation when it comes to beating COVID-19.
Fighting this pandemic also means we need the tools to test and trace the spread of the virus right here at home.
In the last week alone, we’ve delivered over a million rapid tests to the provinces and territories.
That brings us to 15.4 million rapid tests that we’ve sent out to the frontlines.
And even more are on the way.
Testing is key to be able to fight COVID-19 and be in the best possible position when mass vaccinations begin in the spring.
We’re doing everything we can to help you, you and your family, get through this crisis.
But we can’t do it on our own. We also need you.
I talked about travellers earlier and strict border measures, but we also can’t forget that it’s community transmission in particular that’s continuing to spread the virus.
There are still people who think they’re exceptions to the rules, and unfortunately, that is increasing cases.
Hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed.
Surgeries are being postponed.
We must do what we can, what’s needed, to follow public health guidelines.
Stay home. Avoid gatherings. Wear your masks.
And download and use the COVID Alert app.
I think about all of the people who’ve been on the frontlines of this fight against COVID-19 for almost a year now.
They know how far we’ve come.
And they know that we need to keep going, just a little longer.
To our doctors, nurses, and long-term care workers:
From Victoria to Iqaluit to St. John’s, you’re taking care of our parents, grandparents, and friends.
Right now, you’re working longer hours than ever.
You are our heroes.
Your service and dedication every day is remarkable.
New challenges will arise during this uncertain time, but I know that, together, we’re prepared to face them.
I had a call this morning with the CEO of Moderna, who confirmed to me again that the contracts we signed very early on with them will be respected.
In addition, as planned, before the end of March, we will also receive our 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
By September, all Canadians who want a vaccine will be able to get one.
The vaccines are safe and effective, and we are working tirelessly to be able to deploy them as quickly as possible.
Now it may only be January, but this winter is already turning out to be a long one.
And for many business owners who are worried about how to get through to better days, I know that spring and summer seem a long way off.
When this pandemic started, we made a promise that we’d be there for Canadians.
And every day since, we’ve done exactly that.
Our government has rolled out the largest economic measures in Canada’s history to support small businesses across the country, from the Canada Emergency Business Account to the Wage Subsidy.
But even with this help, during a second wave, things are tough.
For many businesses and their employees, it’s hard to get back on their feet.
That’s why we’re now partnering with Canada’s largest financial institutions to introduce the new Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, or HASCAP.
Through HASCAP, Canadian-based businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic will be able to receive low-interest loans of up to $1 million.
These are 100% Government of Canada-backed loans, and can be used for rent, utilities, and help with payroll.
Later today, Minister Ng will have more details to share about the loans, including how to access this support once applications open on February 1st.
While we are helping those who have been hardest hit get through this crisis, we also have to think about after the pandemic.
As vaccines continue to arrive, there is hope on the horizon.
Together, we will be able to rebuild a stronger, more resilient economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.
An economy with good jobs so that workers can support their families, in a cleaner and healthier environment.
We have work to do, but I know that we can do it, together.