Remarks on the COVID-19 response in Canada and internationally
Hello everyone. Happy Friday everyone.
Today I want to talk about what we are doing here in Canada in the fight against COVID-19, and about the actions we’re taking internationally as well.
Let’s start with the situation here in Canada.
In many parts of the country, the number of cases is still increasing rapidly.
On Wednesday, I spoke with Premier Kenney and offered whatever help is needed to keep Albertans safe.
I also spoke with Mayor Iveson of Edmonton and Mayor Nenshi of Calgary.
I let them know that we’re ready to assist in any way possible.
In Ontario, the second team of healthcare workers from Newfoundland and Labrador arrived this week.
They’re joining the first team and the Armed Forces members to help in Toronto hospitals.
Right across the country, we have to continue doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.
One of the ways to do that is with screening and testing.
So far, we’ve distributed more than 26 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories, and over a million directly to workplaces.
Millions more are ready to be deployed.
Supporting businesses, organizations, and the public sector in accessing rapid tests is key to identifying and isolating cases, and therefore reducing the risk of further outbreaks.
That’s why we’re making it even easier for everyone to access these tests.
In Ontario, small and medium-sized businesses and organisations can now get rapid tests at over 40 Shoppers Drug Mart locations.
Additional distribution locations and pharmacies will be added soon.
In April, we invested in the Stay Safe rapid screening program in the Waterloo region, in partnership with the Ontario government, Communitech, and the local chambers of commerce.
In just the first two weeks, more than 120,000 free rapid tests have been distributed to over 1,500 businesses.
Cases have been found in asymptomatic people who had no idea they were positive, but because of the test result were then able to isolate to prevent transmission.
We’re funding similar partnerships right across the country.
In Nova Scotia, local public health has been hosting regular rapid screening pop-ups.
In Alberta, Suncor is using 300 rapid tests a week for their workers.
We need more of these great initiatives because they work.
To help, our government will continue to secure tests and get them out to where they’re needed.
Rapid tests can be requested directly on a new federal portal, which can be reached through Canada.ca/coronavirus in the “limiting the spread” section.
More screening and testing means safer workplaces and less community transmission, and that will help us reopen our economy faster.
Speaking of the economy, this morning we learned that 207,000 jobs were lost during the month of April, in part because of the various difficult, but necessary, measures taken to combat the third wave.
Since the beginning of this crisis, our government has acted to support Canadians.
If you’ve lost your job, we won’t let you down.
The wage subsidy, more flexible EI, and the Canada Recovery Benefit are there for you.
Right now, the best thing we can do for our economy is to end this third wave as quickly as possible.
In addition to all of our other efforts to get that done, we are of course continuing to provide vaccines to Canadians.
On Wednesday, Health Canada approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds.
Following a rigorous and independent scientific review, the experts concluded that the vaccine is safe and effective for this age group.
This is a step forward.
It will add one more string to our bow in the fight against COVID-19.
To date, more than 18 million doses of vaccine have been shipped to the provinces and territories.
As planned, another 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive next week.
Yesterday alone, over 350,000 doses were administered across the country.
That’s an encouraging number, and here’s another one — 41% of adults in Canada have now received at least a first shot.
I want to thank the provinces and territories for working hard to get Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible.
And to all the healthcare workers who are part of this effort — thank you.
Vaccines are our way out of this crisis.
When it’s your turn to get your shot, do your part by making an appointment as soon as you can.
If we keep looking out for each other and doing what we know needs to be done, we will get through this.
On that note, today, I also want to talk about our efforts to fight COVID-19 around the world.
What we’ve seen happening in India is heartbreaking and I know we all want to help.
Last week, we announced $10 million in support for the people of India through the Canadian Red Cross.
This week, we sent a first cargo plane with antiviral medication and ventilators, and there will be more to come.
Again, let me reassure everyone that what we’re sending is surplus supplies, so it won’t compromise our response here in Canada.
To end this pandemic – whether here or elsewhere – we need to fight the virus and its variants all over the world.
That’s why all countries need access to vaccines and treatments.
And we need to work together so that no one is left behind. To help low- and middle-income countries access tests, treatments, and vaccines, we will make an additional contribution of $375 million to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
Internationally, Canada has always been a strong advocate for equitable access to supplies and vaccines.
We’ve mobilized over $2.5 billion in response to COVID-19, making our government one of the top contributors to the global efforts.
Together, we can continue to deliver lifesaving vaccines, tests and treatments to the world’s more vulnerable.
We also recognize the important role industry has played in developing lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
We’ve been working with partners at the WTO to find a consensus-based solution and are ready to discuss proposals, in particular for COVID-19 vaccines.
We remain committed to finding solutions and reaching an agreement that accelerates global vaccine production and does not negatively impact public health.
This morning, I’d also like to say a few words about Bill C-3 that received Royal Assent yesterday.
This legislation will help restore trust in our criminal justice system for survivors of sexual assault, and for all Canadians, while making sure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.
Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of Rona Ambrose, whose Bill C-337 was the foundation for this legislation.
I want to thank Rona for her leadership on this issue and her support in getting this Bill through.
In closing, I want to remind you how important it is to keep being very careful.
While the vaccination effort continues, we have to follow local public health guidelines.
Mother’s Day is going to be different again this year, but it’s still the time to think of our moms and thank them.
One thing’s for sure, our government will always be there to support mothers and families - during this crisis and beyond.
I know that for many people it’s been too long since they’ve been able to hug their moms.
But now is not the time to give up.
We need to avoid gatherings and keep working together to get through this third wave so we can enjoy the better times ahead.