Justin Trudeau’s address to the nation on border restrictions: Full transcript

The Prime Minister said the border will be shut to non-residents, excluding Americans, in response to the coronavirus. Read his full speech here.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media about Canadian measures to counter the COVID-19 virus in Ottawa, Monday March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Over the past few days, we’ve seen Covid-19 spread around the world at an even faster pace. Canada is no exception. From the very beginning of the outbreak. Our government took necessary meaures. To protect your health and safety. We’ve based our response on science and evidence. On input from our work class health professionals and authorities. We continue to base our response on keeping Canadians as protected and supported as possible.  We assured you that as the situation evolved our response would evolve too. As the virus continues its spread we’ve decoded to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe.

[speaks in French]

First, we will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This measure will carve out some designated exceptions including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and, at this time, U.S. citizens.

[speaks in French]

Second, air operators will be formally mandated to prevent all travellers who present symptoms of Covid-19 to board a plane. Air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every air traveller based on guidance from the public health agency of Canada. This means that anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada.

I know this news will spark concern among Canadians travelling abroad. I want to assure you that our government will not leave you unsupported. To help asymptomatic Canadians return home, our government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane. Canadian travellers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home, or temporarily covering their basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada.

[speaks in French]

Third, starting Wednesday, March 18, only four Canadian airports will be accepting international flights — Toronto Pearson, Montreal Trudeau, Vancouver International Airport and Calgary International Airport. At this time, domestic flights, as well as flights coming from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Saint Pierre et Miquelon will not be affected. The travel restrictions announced today will not apply to commerce or trade. We will continue to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada.

I know that these measures are far-reaching. They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures. Earlier today, I had a call with our G7 partners to inform them of these important changes. From the very beginning, Canada’s response has been based on the latest available science and advice from our world-class health professionals. Today’s announcement is no different. These measures will help save lives.

[speaks in French]

Dr. Tam, public health officials and our ministers have been doing a tremendous job of keeping people safe and providing regular updates. As Dr. Tam said yesterday, public health authorities have conducted 25,000 tests to date, and this work continues. To ensure that more Canadians can have access to the latest information on COVID-19, Health Canada will be holding its daily update at the same place, at noon, starting tomorrow. Today their press conference will take place after my remarks.

[speaks in French]

We will make $10 billion available in additional support for Canadian businesses. This is a tool that has worked before in difficult circumstances and we’re confident that it is going to work again. The economic impact of this pandemic is shifting hourly. We recognize the stress and anxiety that it is causing. As I’ve said, we are prepared to see Canadians through this time. We will have additional measures to announce as early as tomorrow to support Canadians, particularly our most vulnerable.

Right now, provinces and territories are facing different realities and risks, which means taking steps that make sense for people in each area. At the same time, we also need to keep building an aligned Canada-wide approach. On Friday, I held a telephone meeting with the premiers and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and information has been flowing continually since. We’ve been in constant communication with the provinces and territories so that there are no barriers between our jurisdictions during this critical time.

During the meeting, I spoke to premiers about the billion-dollar COVID-19 response fund our government has put in place, which includes support for provinces and territories and their health care systems so hospitals can prepare.

We can still slow the spread of this virus. But as doctor Tam said, that window is closing. So far, we’ve seen many provinces take aggressive steps to protect their communities. I want to thank them for their work. It’s time to take every precaution to keep people safe.

The COVID-19 response fund also includes support for Indigenous communities. On Friday I spoke with First Nations, Inuit and Metis Nation leaders to discuss the work we’re doing together on preparedness and mitigation efforts.

Minister Miller also provided an update on our regular coordination with Indigenous partners, as well as the province and territories. Minister Vandal has also been connecting with the territories, and is working on exceptional measures to protect the north. We’re making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, is prepared.

[speaks in French]

I want to remind all Canadians that they should avoid non-essential travel outside of our country until further notice. Canadian travellers should return to Canada via commercial means while it is still possible to do so. Let me be clear. If you are abroad, it is time for you to come home.

If you’ve just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days. And finally, all Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home. By staying home, you can not only protect your health and that of those around you, but ensure that our health care professionals and our health care systems can focus on those who need their help. This is an adjustment for all of us. We know that staying home is an important step to protect the community and each other. We all have to do it.

But I want to remind all Canadians that social distancing doesn’t mean we have to stop talking to each other. Pick up the phone. Write an email. FaceTime. The strength of our country is our capacity to come together and care for each other, especially in times of need. So call your friends. Check in with your family. Think of your community. Buy only what you need at the store.

But if you’re heading out to grab groceries, ask your neighbour if you can get them anything. And if you know someone who is working on the frontlines, send them a thank you. See how they’re holding up.

In Canada, we are lucky to have outstanding health care professionals. I want to thank them once again for their tireless efforts to keep us all safe. At the same time, our government is doing everything it needs to do to keep you safe—to keep your family safe, and to keep our economy strong. No matter what our next steps look like, you can rest assured that we will take them together—with premiers and mayors, with doctors and families and neighbours. Because that is what Canadians do in difficult times. We pull together and we look after each other.

Merci beaucoup tout le monde.