Updating Canadians on COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, public health, and infrastructure investments
I am very pleased to be here this morning with ministers Hajdu and Anand, and Drs. Tam and Njoo.
We’ve a lot of ground to cover this morning so let’s get right into it.
I’ll begin with vaccines.
This morning, I visited the vaccination clinic at the Nepean Sportsplex, here in Ottawa.
It was great to see more and more people getting vaccinated.
People were in a good mood. A lot of folks were there with their elderly parents. Everyone was chatty and focused.
But quite frankly, it was the amazing volunteers who were working so hard who really encouraged us all and we saw smiles on everyone’s faces.
I also had the chance to chat with a few of the many healthcare workers who are part of this vaccination effort.
They’re all doing an incredible job during this really tough time.
My job as a politician is usually going around shaking hands so that wasn’t the challenge we got to do. There was a number of older folks who I needed to remind that an elbow bump is the way we do it but we’re all figuring it out how to navigate through this.
And the fact that so many people are getting vaccinated is a really good thing.
Our frontline workers have given up a lot to stay safe.
Last week, I spoke to nurses from the Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg.
They shared what this past year has been like — caring for isolated patients in serious situations, sometimes being their only point of contact, and holding an Ipad or holding their hands while family members watched through a window.
It was incredibly difficult and incredibly challenging for health-care workers across the country. Even more so, when it comes to the fears that on returning home, they might be bringing home this disease to their families.
It’s been incredibly stressful but they continue to step up every single day. And all of us need to make sure we’re doing the best we can to keep them from getting overwhelmed and overloaded with new cases. But everything they do makes them the heroes of this pandemic.
Right now, our number one priority is to ensure that as many Canadians as possible are vaccinated as quickly as possible.
And we are working tirelessly to get there.
To date, more than 6 million vaccine doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories.
This week, we will be receiving our largest delivery thus far: 3.2 million doses.
It includes scheduled deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as 1.5 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca that will be received today from the United States.
As we’ve been saying for months – and as we’ve been planning with provinces and territories since last year – the end of March will be followed by an increase in vaccine supply.
We now have handily exceeded our promised target of 6 million doses delivered before April.
And this week, we begin our ramp-up phase.
Throughout April and May, a million doses a week are scheduled to arrive from Pfizer alone — plus Moderna, plus AstraZeneca.
And for June, we have good news to share this morning.
Pfizer has now confirmed that they will be moving up 5 million doses from later in the summer into June.
That will bring our total from 4.6 million to 9.6 million doses for that month alone.
Of course, that’s in addition to the other doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines that we’ll also get.
A lot of doses being delivered means a lot of people who are able to get their shot.
If you haven’t had your vaccine already, it might be your turn or a family member’s turn soon.
If you want to learn more about vaccine safety and effectiveness, there’ll be a Facebook Live event tomorrow where Dr. Tam, Dr. Njoo, and other experts will answer Canadians’ questions directly.
To attend or get more information, go to the “Healthy Canadians” Facebook page.
Today, I also want to talk about where we are with the virus, and what that means going forward.
In some places, cases of COVID-19 are holding steady or even going down.
And especially in long-term care homes, vaccination seems to be making a real difference in protecting people from outbreaks. That said, hospitalizations from COVID-19 remain high.
And case numbers are going up in many regions here in Canada, and around the world.
Variants of concern – which can spread more easily and make people even sicker – are increasing quickly.
In B.C. – where the number of cases had been under control – they’re now having to put in place new restrictions for the next 3 weeks.
I want to extend my full support to Premier Horgan, and all Premiers across the country, as they make tough decisions to keep people safe.
As we have since day one, the federal government will have their backs and do whatever it takes to save lives, to protect our frontline workers, and to support jobs and businesses until we get through this.
We are just a few days away from the Easter weekend.
And Passover started last Saturday.
This is the second year in a row that these celebrations are taking place during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, it means that we must continue to be very careful.
In the last year, we’ve seen the number of cases increase after holidays, like after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We must do our utmost to avoid an increase after Easter if we want to stay in the best possible position this spring.
I know that it’s disappointing, but we must avoid gatherings.
This is not the time to travel.
Keep wearing your masks, wash your hands and use the COVID Alert app.
Mass vaccination is well underway.
Nice weather is coming.
But we have to continue our efforts a little longer.
With the recent increase in the number of cases in some areas and the new variants, we cannot let our guard down.
While we continue our efforts to protect Canadians, we must not lose sight of the fact that the pandemic has intensified inequalities around the world and has had a more marked impact on vulnerable populations.
Yesterday, with the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness; and a number of world leaders, we held a third meeting on development funding.
We discussed concrete solutions to help countries the most adversely affected by the current economic crisis, including over-indebtedness and international assistance.
We must tailor our economic systems to meet urgent global issues, such as extreme poverty, inequalities, and of course, climate change.
Canada is still there to listen and take action, and we will certainly raise these issues at future meetings with the IMF, World Bank, the G20 and G7.
As we rebuild from this pandemic, we have to make sure no one gets left behind.
Yesterday, Ministers McKenna and Monsef announced $250 million for transit in rural and remote communities.
This fund is part of the unprecedented public transit investment we announced last month, and it is the first federal fund dedicated to rural transit.
This is part of our job to create jobs and fight climate change.
And it’s also about building more inclusive communities where seniors can get to their doctor’s appointments, and where people of every age can get the services they need.
Before I end today, I want to say a few words about Easter and Passover.
Again this year, we won’t have the kinds of celebrations we were all hoping for.
Because we just can’t afford to let our guard down.
I know I’ve said the same thing before every major holiday over the past year.
But this time, what’s different is that even if the end of the pandemic is in sight, the variants mean the situation is even more serious.
We’re entering the final stretch of this crisis.
We just need to stay strong a little longer.
More and more vaccine doses are coming every week, so there is reason to be hopeful.
So, please, keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Now is not the time to travel.
Avoid gatherings and parties, and continue to keep your distance.
I know it’s not easy but together, we will get through this.