Updating Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and the Omicron variant
Let’s be honest, this isn’t how anyone wanted to be starting 2022.
I can understand that people are frustrated, people are tired, people had a holiday season that was less festive, for most people across the country, than they would have liked. We’re closing in on two years of this pandemic and there have been moments of more intensity and moments of less, but I think everyone was hoping that we would be into a much better place right now, and yet here we find ourselves again, in many parts of the country, in lockdowns with public health rules, with school back virtually, and I can tell you as a parent, I’m very aware that the kids are back in school virtually, and I can understand that people are frustrated.
But I also know that we know how to get through this.
Orders of government have been working together for months and years now to deliver the things that are necessary. On the federal side, we’ve delivered vaccines and Canadians have been there to take them up in record levels. We’ve delivered rapid tests, treatments, we’ve been there with income supports, and we’re going to continue to be there. From the beginning, we said we’d have your backs, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do because this is about keeping you safe, keeping our health workers safe, and getting back as quickly as possible to the things we love.
Two years into this pandemic, however, one thing has changed from those first early months; Canadians themselves. You know what we need to do; you know how to keep your loved ones safe, and more importantly you know how to keep our health systems from getting overwhelmed. People have been stepping up; there for their neighbours; there to do the right thing; there to get vaccinated; there to support our frontline workers, whether they be in our health system or in our grocery stores or wherever. Canadians have shown their mettle, and the way we are there for each other. And we’re going to have to keep it up.
We’re going to have to keep doing that for a while longer. Kids back in school virtually in many parts of the country. Parents figuring out how to balance things. Everywhere, people getting vaccinated. People making sure we’re doing the right things. That’s going to continue to be the story for the coming months. But we know -- because we’ve seen it before when waves have hit like this Omicron wave has hit -- we have to hunker down, we have to pull together, and it gets better in a few months. We’re looking at a better spring, as long as we all keep doing our part.
That’s why I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who’s been doing their part, everyone who’s been stepping up and everyone who will continue to step up.
There’s no magic bullet on this. None of us want to be here right now, but we know what to do to get through it, and I know Canadians will continue to do it, even though we’re tired, even though we’re frustrated, we can get through this together.
On vaccines and boosters, we now have enough vaccines in the country for everyone. I got my booster yesterday. It’s about all of us doing our part to make sure that through this Omicron wave we do not overwhelm our healthcare system. Think of the healthcare workers who’ve been there for months and months and months, stepping up in extraordinarily difficult situations. People have been there for them.
It’s never too late to get vaccinated. If you’re getting your booster, thank you. If you’re getting your kids vaccinated, that’s the right thing to do. And if you’re close to deciding to go for your first shot, thank you. It’s never too late to do the right thing. I can assure you that the healthcare workers who will be there to give you your first will be very happy to give you that first shot, today, or even in the coming weeks.
We know what we need to do to get through this.
We need to do our part, and if you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated, for whatever reasons, know that there is a vaccine for you waiting at your local pharmacy or your local health centre. We have all the vaccines we need for all Canadians, so please, get yourself vaccinated. That’s how we keep our health systems from getting overwhelmed, that’s how we minimize the impact of COVID on our society, on our economy, on our neighbours and on our frontline workers.
We’re also continuing to send tests, rapid tests to provinces and territories. We delivered a record number of tests in December, and we’re going to quadruple that in January.
120 million rapid tests have already been delivered, and we’re continuing to send them. The federal government is also there to help the provinces and territories that are struggling the most. We’re finalizing the deployment of 200 Canadian Armed Forces members to vaccination clinics in Quebec, and we will continue to be there with test kits, with vaccinations, and with the necessary treatments.
At the same time, just as the federal government has done from the very beginning, we will be there to support workers and businesses. We still have measures in place to support you if you need it. In particular, I’m talking about the wage subsidy, which is there to help you keep your link to your job, even if the job is not there, to make sure you are paid so you can continue to put food on the table, but know that you can maintain your link to your job.
So please, this wage subsidy, used by hard‑hit businesses, with rent assistance, with direct assistance for people who are affected, we are there for you, and to help the provinces be able to … make the right decisions. Public health authorities will know that if they have to bring in additional public health measures, we will be there to support them. We’ll be there to support citizens. That’s the way to get through this health challenge, but it’s also the way to get through the economic challenge, by minimizing the long-term impact on our economy.
Workers, small businesses, we will always have your back. We have income supports and we have a wage subsidy that is continuing for hard‑hit businesses, to allow you to keep your link to your job and put food on the table in situations of lockdown or public health restrictions. We know that’s the best way of getting through the health challenge; but it’s also the best way of getting through the economic challenge so we can bounce back stronger once we get through this particular wave.
So, thank you to everyone doing their part, we’re going to hang in there, we’re going to keep getting through this, and there will be better days ahead.
We’ve got a lot of work to do this year to build a stronger Canada.
This week we signed historic agreements for compensation and reform for First Nations child and family services and Jordan’s Principle. For far too long, Indigenous kids at risk were being removed from their communities, put in situations where they lose their language, they lose their culture, they face mistreatment. We need to recognize our responsibility collectively for that, but we also have to put an end to it going forward.
And that’s what this historic agreement was all about. And I want to thank all the partners who’ve been at the table throughout these many last weeks, working extremely hard, putting kids at the centre of everything we do -- making sure we’re compensating kids for harms in the past and making sure we’re putting an end to it into the future.
From the various communities and Indigenous leaders, thank you. To Senator Murray Sinclair who’s been an extraordinary advocate for children throughout, to everyone involved, the ministers who worked hard on it; thank you.
But there’s still a lot of work to come. We’ve signed these agreements, now we have to make the changes. We have to get the compensation out, but we also have to make sure we’re transforming child and family services for First Nations kids across this country so that we break the cycle that continues to harm children in this country.
This is also a difficult time of year as we remember the victims of flight PS752 and other air disasters; families who continue to grieve; who celebrated yet another holiday season with empty spaces around the table. Know that we stand with you. Know that we continue to fight for you. Know that we will continue to be there to support you as you grieve, as you face the long slow process of healing, and as we continue to demand accountability and justice.