Updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and vaccine rollout
Before starting today, I’d like to say a few words about the arrest of Mr. Camara in Parc-Extension, in my riding of Papineau.
This is a troubling case.
There are a number of questions that need to be addressed, including by the various authorities involved in this case.
We need to get to the bottom of what happened.
My thoughts are with Mr. Camara and with the injured officer.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the rate of new cases continue to go down just about everywhere in the country.
This is good news.
But we can’t let our guard down.
There are new variants around the world that are beginning to show up in Canada. We need to continue to do everything we can to protect ourselves and to protect our friends and neighbours.
We still have work to do.
While several provinces are preparing to relax some of their health measures, I want to provide an update today on the various fronts of our battle against COVID‑19.
Let’s start with vaccines.
We all want to be done with this pandemic as soon as possible.
And that’s exactly why we’re focused on vaccines.
The temporary shipment delays that many countries are facing right now are a hurdle, but they’re one that we were ready for.
We knew that short-term delays would be a possibility, so we planned accordingly.
But I hear it from all Canadians right now, people are worried.
People are tired of this pandemic.
They want to know when this winter is going to be over.
They want to know when they can go back to everything they’ve done before.
They want to know mostly when their grandparents are going to be safe.
When the vaccines are going to come.
That’s why there’s a lot of anxiety and there’s a lot of noise going on right now.
That’s why I want to reassure Canadians that we’re on track.
In late November, we stood before Canadians and we said that we were confident that we were going to get 6 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine by Q1 of 2021.
That’s the first three months of 2021, January, February, and March.
We’re very much on track to getting those 6 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March as we predicted in November.
I speak almost every week with the CEOs of these vaccine companies and they have assured me that they will meet their obligations – their contractual obligations – to deliver 6 million doses to Canadians by the end of March.
Which means we are still very much on track for 20 million doses in the spring from Pfizer and Moderna, with more vaccine companies in the process of approval right now.
And we will get everyone vaccinated by September.
Now a friend of mine actually shared with me the story of how they felt a few days ago when their elderly parents in a long-term care home here in Ottawa got their second dose of the vaccine.
He said it was a surprise just how much of a relief it was to suddenly not be afraid for your loved ones.
That’s a feeling that thousands upon thousands of Canadians are getting right across the country, but we need to get to millions.
I know how tired we all are. I know how anxious we are to see our loved ones safe. To see life returning to normal. We feel it too.
That’s why we are working every single day to make sure that as many vaccines as possible come into Canada as quickly as possible.
And yes the turbulence week over week that we’re seeing is of concern and we’re watching it closely, and we’re staying on it.
But let me reassure people we’re still very much on track, as promised, to get those 6 million doses by the end of March.
Because that’s what the vaccine company CEOs keep telling me and I’m happy to reassure Canadians on that.
We are focused on keeping you and your family safe every step of the way.
Our team is in constant contact with the top people involved, as well as with our counterparts in Europe.
Over the past weeks I have personally spoken with the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna, and this week, I was on the phone with Pascal Soriot from AstraZeneca.
They assured me that they will fulfil all their commitments to Canada.
We’ve worked around the clock to negotiate one of the world’s most diverse vaccine portfolios. That's how we have assured more potential doses per person than any other country.
In addition to Pfizer and Moderna, 3 other companies have submitted their vaccines for review by Health Canada: AstraZeneca, Janssen, and Novavax.
This review process is independent and has the very highest standards to make sure that every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective.
On vaccines, I also want to say a few words about COVAX, which is another important part of our overall plan.
When wealthier countries invest in COVAX, half of that funding is for doses at home, and the other half is to buy doses for low and middle income countries.
In other words, our contribution was always intended to access vaccine doses for Canadians as well as to support lower income countries.
Through COVAX, pending Health Canada approval, we will receive at least 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of June.
That’s in addition to the 20 million doses we’ve already secured from AstraZeneca.
Canada is committed to making sure that the rest of the world doesn’t get left behind when it comes to vaccination. That’s why we are one of the world’s top donors to COVAX.
To beat this virus anywhere, we have to beat it everywhere.
In addition to COVAX, we’ve also contributed to other programs specifically designed to help lower income countries get access to vaccines.
Yesterday, we had our 26th meeting with the premiers of the provinces and territories.
Of course, we talked about vaccines.
For the Pfizer vaccine, the number of doses delivered each week will increase in mid‑February.
Between Pfizer and Moderna combined, we will receive the 6 million doses by the end of March, just as we’ve been telling Canadians since the end of November.
We’re also preparing for the “ramp up” phase that will be starting in April, as planned.
In the spring, we expect to receive 20 million doses of the two approved vaccines.
This number will be adjusted up as we add other vaccine candidates that are currently being reviewed by Health Canada.
Despite the temporary, short-term issues that are affecting many other countries as well, our plan remains strong and we remain committed to our objectives.
All Canadians who want a vaccine will be able to get one by September.
Last week, we also announced new measures for international travel.
All international flights are now limited to four major airports; Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.
With the support of our airline industry, all flights to and from Mexico and the Caribbean have also been suspended until April 30th.
As I told the Premiers during our 26th meeting yesterday, our government’s priority has always been to protect Canadians.
That’s exactly what we’re continuing to do.
The mandatory PCR testing at the airport and the new 3-day quarantine measures will be in place as soon as possible.
In addition to these new rules for flying, we are also looking at ways to further strengthen our land border measures.
We’ll have more to announce on this soon.
As vaccines continue to arrive, we must absolutely use the other tools at our disposal to contain the virus.
Testing has to be a key part of our strategy, particularly because cases are going down and the provinces are starting to look at reopening.
Whether it’s at schools, long-term care facilities or workplaces, rapid testing is an effective way to prevent outbreaks.
And so I continue to strongly encourage the provinces and territories to use it.
When it comes to people’s safety, and to the economy as well, we all have to work together to make sure that the trend of new cases continues downward.
This morning, we learned that the Canadian economy lost 213,000 jobs in January, most of them part‑time jobs in the retail sector.
Since the start of the pandemic, our government has acted quickly to provide direct support to Canadians, workers, and small businesses.
Whether it’s through programs like the wage subsidy and commercial rent assistance or the changes we made to employment insurance, we will not abandon you.
For those who need assistance, you can go to the website Canada.ca/coronavirus to get more information about our different supports.
We’ll continue to be here for you.
If you’ve lost your job, we’re thinking of you and we have ways to support you.
We’re working tirelessly to provide vaccines as quickly as possible.
We know that spring is coming and things will improve, and until then, we’ll be here for each other.
No matter where you live, our focus is on keeping you and your community safe.
On that note, today, I can announce that we have approved a request for federal assistance for Pauingassi First Nation in Northern Manitoba.
The Canadian Armed Forces will begin deployment as soon as possible.
They’ll be arriving on Saturday at the latest and will be there until February 10th.
Once they’re on the ground, members of the Forces will be providing logistical support, transporting goods and medical supplies, and conducting wellness checks.
Just as they have since the start of this crisis, our women and men in uniform are stepping up to the plate.
They’re doing a great job, and making a real, positive difference for the people who need it most.
Over the last year, we’ve seen people across the country come together to support each other through this incredibly difficult time.
After all, that’s just who we are.
In Canada, we just help each other out.
We learn from our differences.
We celebrate diversity and compassion.
These Canadian values are what make us stronger as a country, and as a democracy.
And we will always stand up to protect them.
On Wednesday, Minister Blair announced that 13 new groups are now listed as terrorist entities, including ideologically motivated extremist groups like the Proud Boys.
These decisions were made after thorough information-gathering by Canada’s security and intelligence officials, often over months and years.
To be listed, a group must meet a high legal threshold.
The listing can then help stop their dangerous activities, and facilitate criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Among other things, this means that under the law, it is now a crime to deal knowingly with the property or finances of these hateful groups.
We will continue to do whatever it takes to keep Canadians safe.
We will continue to fight hate and violence online.
And we will continue to protect our communities and our places of worship.
Just last week, I spoke to my friend Rabbi Adam Scheier, whose synagogue in Montreal was recently vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.
He mentioned that enhanced security measures – made possible by our Security Infrastructure Program as well as extremely alert security guards – meant that the alleged perpetrator was caught quickly before he could do more serious damage.
Violent extremism has no place in our country.
We will always stand up to groups and individuals who use violence to target our fellow Canadians, or to attack our democratic systems.
I want to end today by coming back to our COVID‑19 response, specifically vaccines.
I know there’s a lot of anxiety and so I’ll repeat: on our end, our plan is in motion.
I want to reassure people watching at home:
I know you’re waiting for all this to be over as quickly as possible. I know you’re anxiously waiting for your vaccine.
I know you’re mostly very anxious for your grandparents to receive their vaccine.
We’re working tirelessly, every day, to get through this pandemic together.
Since the beginning, we’ve been there for people, with assistance for workers, families and businesses.
With border measures.
We’ve been there to support the provinces, including with the Armed Forces in long-term care facilities.
And we’re there for people when it comes to vaccines.
We negotiated more contracts, more doses than virtually any other country. And we are in the process of delivering on this.
As I said in November, we announced that in the first quarter of 2021 we would receive 6 million of the Pfizer and Moderna doses.
And I’m speaking on a regular basis with both of these companies, who assure us, promise us, that they will deliver these 6 million doses by the end of next month.
We’re headed in the right direction, on course to end this pandemic.
I know that the turbulence we’re experiencing right now, week over week, may be causing a lot of worry for people.
But I want to reassure you: we will be where we need to be, where we promised we would be, by the end of next month.
We’ll be there with 20 million doses in the spring, from Pfizer and Moderna.
We’ll be there for more doses from other companies as they are approved.
And we’ll keep our promise to have a vaccine for everyone in Canada who wants one before the end of September.
We’ll get through this. We are continuing to work for you and with you.
The summer and the months ahead are going to be better than this winter has been.
Thank you, everyone.