The following is a transcript of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s March 23, 2020, briefing on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trudeau conducts a daily update for reporters in front of his home in Ottawa, where he is in 14-day isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.
I want to begin by recognizing that a lot of people have now been stuck at home for a week or more because of COVID-19. If that’s starting to take a toll, it’s understandable. But we can’t afford to stop now. I want to be clear. Social distancing, physical distancing, is the single-best way to keep the people around you safe.
What does that mean? It means keeping two metres between yourself and someone else. It means avoiding groups. It means staying home as much as possible.
If you choose to ignore that advice, if you choose to get together with people or go to crowded places, you’re not just putting yourself at risk. You’re putting others at risk, too. Your elderly relative who’s in a seniors home. Your friend with a preexisting condition. Our nurses and doctors on the frontlines. Our workers stocking shelves at a grocery store. They need you to make the right choices. They need you to do your part.
We’ve all seen the pictures online of the people who seem to think they’re invincible. Well, you’re not. Enough is enough. Go home and stay home. This is what we all need to be doing. And we’re going to make sure this happens, whether by educating people more on the risks or by enforcing the rules if that’s needed. Nothing that could help is off the table.
Today, we’re launching federal advertising campaigns. You’ll see faces that you know and trust, people from our cultural sector getting out the recommendations from our healthcare workers. Not having heard this message won’t be an excuse. We’re reaching everyone. Listening is your duty, and staying home is your way to serve.
Every day, there are more and more people who step up and heed this call. Just yesterday, Team Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Team made the tough decision not to send athletes to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. I know this is heartbreaking for so many people: athletes, coaches, staff and fans. But this was absolutely the right call, and everyone should follow their lead.
No matter who you are, if you’re doing your part, I want to say thank you. You are saving lives. And when it gets hard, know that your government is right there with you.
On Wednesday, we unveiled an $82 billion plan for people in businesses affected by the virus. If you’re worried about making ends meet, we’re putting more money in your pocket. If you own a small business, we’re helping you bridge to better times. Tomorrow, the House of Commons will reconvene to pass emergency legislation and put this plan in motion.
For farmers, and people across the agro-food business, I know that these are hard times too. So we’re also opening up $5 billion in additional lending capacity. Starting today, farmers and producers can apply through Farm Credit Canada for the support they need to keep food growing and get it onto our tables.
On that note, I want to say thank you to people right across the entire food sector. Day in and day out, you grow, transport and stock the food that feed our families.
Last week, we also announced a plan to mobilize industry so our hospitals have the medical support and equipment they need. Later today, I’ll have a call with the first ministers to discuss our coordination on quarantine and self-isolation. We’re working together to ensure that everyone has what they need, whether that’s equipment for testing or medical supplies.
This evening, the premiers and I will also talk about continuing to move forward with measures to support families and small businesses to ensure our economy rebounds.
For Canadians stranded abroad, we’re working with airlines to get people home. People should be returning by commercial means while they’re still available. Air Canada, Westjet, Air Transat and Sunwing all have flights this week. As of today, we’ve secured authorizations for Air Canada to operate three flights for this week for Canadians in Peru and there will be two more flights in the coming days from Morocco. We’ve also helped secure an Air Canada flight form Spain as well as Air Transat flights, including two from Honduras and one each from Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala.
If you’re a Canadian abroad, register with the government now so we can send you updates and contact you. You need to do this if you haven’t done it already.
Today, I am announcing we are providing $192 million to directly support vaccine development and production in Canada. We are investing in a longterm solution to COVID-19 right here at home.
Our government will be signing an agreement with Vancouver-based AbCellera to support their work on drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19. We’re also working withQuebec City-based Medicago for vaccine testing and production.
At the same time we’re providing funding for the University of Saskatchewan’s vaccine and infectious disease organization for development and clinical trials.
Once there are promising options, Canada needs the capacity to mass produce treatments as quickly as possible. That’s why we’re investing in the National Research Council of Canada’s facility in Montreal to prepare for the rollout.
These are critical steps forward, but we have to remember that vaccines won’t be ready overnight, they will take months to develop and test. So while that’s happening, we need to work to mitigate the impacts of this virus. And luckily we have the tools we need right here at home.
Blue Dot, in Toronto, was among the first in the world to identify the spread of COVID-19, coming in nine days ahead of the World Health Organization’s public warning. We’ve signed a contract to use this Canadian software to model the disease. It will help us track and therefore slow the spread.
Minister Bains has also sent a call to action to every university, college, polytechnic and CÉGEP in the country. Their labs have the resources and expertise to be part of this fight. We’ve asked them to identify equipment they’ve got, like masks and ventilators.
At the same time, we’re looking at innovative solutions they can be part of, including 3D printing of medical supplies.
Many institutions have already stepped up and many more will do the same. If you need more information, please go to buyandsell.gc.ca. We need all hands on deck.
[speaking in French] We all have a role to play in the fight against COVID-19. Even if you’re not a first responder or a researcher you can save lives by remaining at home as much as possible, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres from others if you must go out. You can do, and make a difference. That’s how we can protect ourselves, protect our nurses and doctors and our health care professionals who are caring [for] people who need help.
Please follow the recommendations of our public health officials. We have to trust them, and we have to listen.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk to some people directly and today I’m thinking about our seniors. We all have loved ones who are at home, who are extremely vulnerable—call them, tell them that you love them.
I myself am thinking of my father-in-law who is receiving treatment for cancer and has been for a few months, so we haven’t seen him for awhile. Today is his birthday, he is 77 today. Happy birthday Jean-Jean.
Think of your own loved ones and do whatever you can to keep them safe. That is how we can stop COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part, and know that our government will continue to work all the time to protect you, and together we will come through this.
Thank you very much.
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