Remarks on the COVID-19 situation and Budget 2021
The last year has been hard, but what we have seen is that Canadians are there for each other.
Throughout this crisis, we’ve known that we can count on our neighbours.
Whether you’ve dropped off groceries for someone in need, or just worn a mask to protect your colleagues: thank you.
It’s by helping the people around us that we will get through this crisis.
Unfortunately, some people are still choosing to join large gatherings, or even go out of their way to protest public health measures and disrupt vaccine appointments.
But here’s the thing, the reason so many Canadians are following public health measures isn’t just because they want things to get back to normal, it’s because they care about their neighbours and our front-line workers.
It’s because they know people who are vulnerable — people who could die if this virus keeps spreading.
These protests are supposed to be about getting back to normal, but by spreading the virus, they do just the opposite and prolong lockdowns.
So follow public health advice, but don’t do it for me or for any politician.
Do it for someone in your life that you care about.
Do it because you respect your fellow Canadians.
To the millions of people who are already doing this, and who are stepping up to look out for those around you — thank you.
As you do your part, know that we have your back.
Across the country, we’re deploying additional support to provinces and territories that have been hit hardest by this third wave.
For Alberta, we continued reaching out to the province through the weekend.
We’re offering whatever help they need to get the situation under control and keep Albertans safe.
For the GTA, the second team of healthcare workers from Newfoundland and Labrador will arrive at Pearson this afternoon, onboard a Canadian Armed Forces airplane.
They’ll join the first team that’s already there, as well as the Armed Forces members, who are helping in Toronto hospitals.
And for all Canadians, we continue to deliver PPE, rapid tests, and of course — vaccines.
We have now delivered 16.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the provinces and territories.
This week, just like every week in May, we’re receiving 2 million doses from Pfizer alone.
Already, 1.3 million doses of this week’s shipment have been delivered to the provinces and territories.
For Moderna, we’re picking up our next shipment tonight in Europe.
By tomorrow morning, a million Moderna doses will be on the ground in Canada.
Almost all of these doses will arrive in provinces and territories by the end of the week.
All in all, over 3 million vaccine doses will be delivered this week.
Every day, more and more people get their shot. Every dose keeps another person safe. Every dose is another step closer to ending this pandemic.
Remember, all vaccines in Canada have been approved by Health Canada.
Our advice to provinces and territories, and to Canadians, has not changed.
Dr. Tam will have more to say in a few moments, but make sure you get your shot as soon as it’s your turn.
Already, we’re seeing how vaccines – along with public health measures – keep people safe.
We’ve administered hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses in hundreds of Indigenous communities.
Cases are now falling quickly in places across the country.
In fact, for First Nations communities alone, active cases are about a sixth of what they were at the end of January.
This is not a coincidence.
From day one, our top priority has been keeping people safe.
And as long as this crisis lasts, that remains job one.
In Budget 2021, we laid out an additional $1.2 billion to finish the fight against COVID-19 for Indigenous communities.
This will go towards everything from hiring nurses, to getting PPE to the frontlines.
In Budget 2021, we are also investing over half a billion dollars for a mental health and wellness strategy with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.
Mental health is health. And everyone deserves the care and support they need.
In fact, at the start of Mental Health Week, I want to remind everyone that if you’re struggling, you aren’t alone. Reach out for help.
You can always visit the Wellness Together website for free, 24/7 resources and support. You can create an account online, or you can call 1-866-585-0445.
There’s also the Hope for Wellness Help Line for Indigenous peoples, which has support in a number of different languages. To reach the Help Line, call 1-855-242-3310 or visit hopeforwellness.ca.
Later today, Minister Miller will be meeting with communities in Quebec to talk about how we can keep building thriving, prosperous communities, including through ensuring all kids get a high-quality and culturally appropriate education.
This is about listening to what communities need, and how we can continue walking the road of reconciliation.
Everyone should have access to clean water, just like everyone should have a safe home and a good job.
Together, we’ve made progress in the past five years.
On drinking water alone, we’ve lifted 106 long-term advisories since 2015.
But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always more work to do.
That’s why we’re investing $6 billion for Indigenous infrastructure projects.
Whether for roads or schools, this will close gaps that far too many people still face, and support good jobs across the country.
Together, we can and we will continue to move forward.
This pandemic has seen a lot of people relying more and more on wireless connections – whether that’s for school, work, or to catch up with family.
A cell plan or home Wi-Fi are no longer a luxury – they’re a necessity. And they’re something everyone should be able to afford.
In 2019, we promised to cut the cost of cell and wireless services by 25%.
Today, we saw the latest pricing reports on the average data plan and home Internet plans. Prices have gone down anywhere from 9 to 28%.
This is good news.
We’re on the right track.
As we rebuild from this pandemic, we’re going to stay focused on making life more affordable for the middle class.
Finally, I want to recognize that May marks the start of both Asian Heritage Month and Canadian Jewish Heritage Month.
As we celebrate the contributions of Asian-Canadians and of the Jewish community alike, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Because from dropping off groceries for neighbours to organizing PPE drives, in the last year people have come together like never before.
Truly, diversity is our strength, and it’s something we must always stand up for.
There is no place in Canada for antisemitism.
There is no place for anti-Asian racism.
And there is no place for hatred or discrimination against anyone or any community.
We are always stronger together. Today, and every day.