Updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation, and supports for the agricultural and airline sectors
The situation we’re facing with COVID-19 remains extremely serious.
On Sunday, Ontario reported a record single-day high of new COVID-19 cases.
And not just in Ontario, but in many parts of the country, ICU beds in hospitals are filling up and the patients in them are younger and younger.
This is not the place anyone wanted to be right now.
Because when hospitals fill up, it puts pressure on nurses, doctors, and all healthcare workers.
And it means that operations or treatments have to be cancelled or postponed, like for people who are waiting for cancer surgery.
We’re not out of the woods yet with this virus.
Everyone is working around the clock to get as many Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible.
But right now, more contagious and dangerous variants are spreading and threatening the progress we’ve made.
Even with millions of Canadians already having received their first dose, we need to keep doing what we know works to stop the spread of the virus.
So avoid gatherings, stay home when you can, wear a mask, keep your distance, and download and use the COVID Alert app.
We know what it takes to stop this wave. We know how to get out of it. We’ve done it before. We just need to hang in there and be careful and protect our loved ones, protect our essential workers. Do the right the thing so we can get to a summer that is better than right now.
Today, I also want to address teachers, parents, and kids across the country.
Yesterday, Premier Ford announced that schools will close in-person learning indefinitely as cases of COVID-19 rise sharply in Ontario.
And we know that other provinces are watching the situation in their schools too.
I know this isn’t easy.
So, to teachers, parents, and kids: Thank you for your efforts once again.
You are stepping up in incredible ways and I know it’s tough. Nobody wants to go back to online learning. Nobody wants to be stuck at home. But we have to make it through this and things will get better because of what we’re all doing right now.
Since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve invested $2 billion through the Safe Return to Class Fund to help provinces and territories make your schools safer.
And we will continue to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to get us through this.
To date, we have delivered more than 11.3 million vaccine doses against COVID-19 to the provinces and territories.
Regarding Pfizer, this week as planned, we received just over a million doses.
As for Moderna, an 850,000 dose delivery landed in Canada this morning.
Vaccinations are moving ahead.
Every day, an increasing number of people are receiving their vaccine.
But we must still continue to protect each other by following public health recommendations.
With the variants, cases in this third wave are rapidly spreading.
We’ve all had enough of COVID-19.
With the events last night in Montreal and elsewhere in the country, we can see that people are increasingly frustrated.
But when we don’t follow public health guidelines, we are only prolonging the situation.
We want to get out of this third wave; everyone wants this third wave to be over as quickly as possible.
We have to keep up our efforts to save lives and help our healthcare workers who are overwhelmed.
Just a few more weeks of holding back, following public health instructions, being very careful and we can be hopeful of having a much better summer.
But as you know, today’s cases are based on what we did last week, or two weeks ago. And if we want to see a lower number of cases two weeks from now, we have to do the right thing today.
The vaccines are coming but we have to reduce the number of cases too.
By the end of June, we will have 44 million vaccine doses, so this is really not the time to give up on flattening the curve.
Since the start of the crisis, we have often spoken of essential workers.
Be it in our hospitals, in our schools or elsewhere, these workers have made unbelievable efforts.
And when we talk about essential work, of course it includes the crucial work of our farmers who make it possible to put quality food on our tables.
One of the things that the pandemic has shown us is just how important it is to have a strong and resilient agricultural sector.
While we continue to work on the economic recovery, we want to ensure that Canadian producers under supply management have the tools required for success.
There are thousands of poultry and egg farms in Canada. A lot of them are owned by families.
Last year, we promised those families that we would invest over $690 million over ten years to provide full and fair compensation to Canada’s chicken, turkey, and egg farmers following the CPTPP trade agreement.
Later today, Minister Bibeau will share details about how this funding will help producers invest to modernize their farms, and how it will help promote Canadian-made products here at home.
But the bottom line is this.
Our government will always be there for Canadian farmers.
So to farmers: Thank you for your incredible hard work.
You stepped up during this pandemic to get good food on our plates.
Through this pandemic and beyond, we’ve got your back.
Together, we’ll continue to build a sustainable future for rural farm families, and for all the Canadians who rely on you every single day.
Anyone who’s seen the endless miles of wheat and canola as they drive across the country can tell you just how big Canada is.
In a country like ours, air travel is an essential service.
On that front, yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Minister Alghabra announced that we’ve reached an agreement with Air Canada to secure air travel for Canadians for the future.
The conditions for Air Canada to receive this support are very clear.
They will ensure that regional communities have air connections to the rest of Canada; they will refund their customers for pandemic-related cancelations; they will commit to protect jobs, pensions; and collective agreements; and they will restrict executive compensation, buy back shares, and dividends.
Air Canada will also have to demonstrate how they will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
The deal is a good and fair deal in the interest of jobs, workers, communities, and customers.
The agreement announced yesterday with Air Canada will protect jobs, keep our communities connected and ensure that passengers are reimbursed.
The air sector is a strategic sector for our economy, and our negotiations with the other air carriers continue.
As always, we will make sure to put the interests of Canadians and workers at the heart of what we do.
This past year has been tough.
There have been a lot of special moments and celebrations that have been done differently.
Yesterday, I had the chance to speak virtually with Sikh healthcare professionals from across Canada to celebrate Vaisakhi and Sikh Heritage Month, and to thank them for everything they do.
Happy Vaisakhi to everyone celebrating.
This week also marks the start of Ramadan.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the many Muslim Canadians who continue to work hard on the front lines, and the many others who are helping their neighbors and communities during these difficult times.
Once again this year, Ramadan will be very different.
We will have to use virtual means for getting together rather than in person.
But one thing is certain: the pandemic does not stop us from celebrating the values of gratitude, compassion and generosity, which are central to Muslim communities and which are shared by Canadians of all walks of life.