Remarks on the COVID-19 situation, border measures, and Budget 2021
Good morning, everyone. Hello, everyone.
I am pleased to be here today with Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, Minister Anand, Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo.
As we fight this third wave, our top priority continues to be everyone’s safety.
Yesterday, we held the 30th meeting with provincial and territorial premiers since the beginning of the pandemic.
My message to the premiers was clear: the federal government is here to support you.
Yesterday, the premiers and I had another productive meeting.
We talked about vaccines, testing, and what we can do to beat this third wave.
We also talked at length about borders.
Premier Ford asked that we suspend the arrival of international students.
Because at this time Ontario is the only province requesting this, we’re happy to work more narrowly with them.
We’ll be reaching out to their officials today to formalize that request.
Again, I want to be clear. This is not the right time to travel.
On land borders, as a reminder: anyone who comes to the U.S. land border has already been tested in the U.S. in the last 3 days.
Then, they have to get tested again and everyone has to quarantine for 2 weeks and do another test on day 8.
We’re enforcing very severe consequences for anyone breaking these rules.
Yesterday, in addition to all of this, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland provided an update on the budget as well.
I also took the opportunity to congratulate Premier Silver of Yukon on his re-election.
I look forward to continuing to work with him on everything from the fight against climate change and creating affordable childcare, to our commitment on building a stronger relationship with Indigenous peoples.
In fact, I’ll be calling Sandy later today so we can discuss these priorities further. As I told everyone around the table last night, it’s vital that we keep working together.
We’re following the situation with this third wave closely, especially in places that are hardest hit.
Yesterday, Alberta reported their highest single-day total since the beginning of the pandemic.
Premier Kenney announced new restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, and our government is ready to work with the province to provide support.
For Ontario, medical teams from the Canadian Armed Forces began arriving in Toronto on Tuesday night, including critical care nurses who will work in ICUs.
This first deployment of 55 members of the forces will be providing assistance to Sunnybrook Hospital and its mobile units.
On Tuesday as well, a healthcare team from Newfoundland and Labrador arrived in Ontario.
They are helping at Toronto General Hospital.
Like I said before, we are actively working with the Government of Ontario to determine how else we can support them.
For Nova Scotia, where cases are also high, we’ve deployed 60 Canadian Armed Forces members to testing centres to help stop the spread of the virus.
And for New Brunswick, we’ve approved the province’s request for assistance for long-term care homes.
The Red Cross will assist in up to three facilities until the end of June.
Nunavut has also requested additional support to deal with their current outbreaks.
We’re moving quickly to keep people safe by sending more PPE and health equipment, and by providing support for households in isolation who need food or mental health services.
We’re also engaging with other provinces that are hit hard by this third wave to see how we can help.
We’re ready to send any resources needed to protect you and your family.
And, of course, we’re continuing to deliver PPE, rapid tests, and vaccines.
So far, we’ve distributed more than 15 million doses of vaccines, right across the country.
Wednesday, almost a million doses arrived in Canada, including our first shipment of the single-dose Janssen vaccine.
Starting next week, we will be receiving 2 million doses a week just from Pfizer alone.
This will mark another major ramp up.
We will continue to work with provinces and territories to get these doses to Canadians as quickly as possible.
More and more people have been vaccinated.
In several provinces, vaccination will be open to the general population very soon.
This is encouraging news.
Over the past year, we have often repeated that every action counts.
Every action helps to protect our healthcare workers, our families, our neighbours, and all Canadians.
By wearing a mask, by keeping our distance, by staying home: we are helping to save lives.
This is also true of getting vaccinated.
Every vaccine dose counts.
As soon as it’s your turn, I encourage you to make an appointment to get your vaccine.
It’s important to protect yourselves, and to protect others.
Only by getting vaccinated will we be able to get through this pandemic and get back a little to the life we had before.
At the beginning of the crisis, we promised families, workers, and small businesses that our government would be there for them.
We are doing everything we can to ensure our economic recovery is as robust and fast as possible.
Just a few minutes ago, Finance Minister Freeland introduced the Budget Implementation Act in the House of Commons.
This is the next step forward on the plan we laid out in last week’s budget—a plan to get through the pandemic, create jobs, and make sure our economy comes roaring back.
This bill includes extensions of support programs that have been a lifeline for millions of Canadians, from the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy, to the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Recovery Caregiving Benefit.
We’re facing a very serious third wave.
So, we need to make sure we can deliver support to the workers and businesses who rely on these programs.
Of course, that’s not all this plan lays out.
With this legislation, we’re also setting the foundation for strong economic growth, with funding for early learning and childcare, support for students, a $15 federal minimum wage, and much more.
I’ll let the Finance Minister go into more detail in a moment, but here’s the bottom line:
These measures will help you get through what is hopefully the last stretch of this pandemic.
This is about how we set ourselves up for a stronger, faster recovery that includes everyone.
So, all parties need to work together to get this support through the House of Commons, to Canadians as soon as possible.
In closing, as announced this morning, I want to mention that Isabelle Hudon, currently the Ambassador of Canada to France, has agreed to become the next CEO of the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, that is, the BDC.
Her business career, both in Canada and internationally, has made her the ideal candidate for this role.
She will be the first woman to head the BDC and will continue its crucial work for the economic recovery to help our SMEs grow.
In her current role, Ambassador Hudon has led a number of economic diplomacy initiatives and, between 2017 and 2020, trade between Canada and France increased by 30%.
Our fight against COVID-19 is not over yet.
But there is reason to hope.
With more people getting their shot, and more vaccines on the way, we will get through this.
And as we do, we’re going to keep working together to rebuild a safer, healthier Canada, and a stronger, more resilient economy that leaves no one behind.
Before I pass it over to Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families, friends, and victims of the tragedy at Mount Meron.
Canada stands with the people of Israel and the Jewish community.