Trudeau’s daily coronavirus update: Some National Parks reopening in June (Full transcript)

In his May 14 briefing to Canadians, the PM announced the new Fish Harvesters Benefit, interest-free loans for Indigenous businesses, regulations on boating, and news that some National Parks will be opening in June

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau at a press conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on May 13, 2020 (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a daily update on the coronavirus crisis each day in front of his home in Ottawa. Here are his remarks for May 14, 2020.

Good morning. Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen our women and men in uniform step up to the plate again and again in seniors homes in northern communities. They’re there for where we need them most and because they respond to the call of duty without hesitation whenever they’re called upon. It can be easy to forget the toll this work can take. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have always been there to do tough, dangerous jobs. So after a lifetime of service, far too many veterans live with chronic pain. Today, we are launching the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans at McMaster University. This centre will focus on national research, training and education to provide veterans with the support they deserve. No one, least of all those who have worn the maple leaf should be without the care they need. Later today, I’ll also be meeting with nurses here in Ottawa to thank them for their outstanding work. I know I speak for all Canadians when I say that we are incredibly grateful to the women and men who are keeping us safe right now.

[Translation from French] Our men and women in uniform have always been there for us. And we have to be there for them as well. Today we are launching the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans at McMaster University. That centre will focus on research, training and education right across the country to provide our veterans with the services that they need. To all those who have served Canada: Thank you. The entire country is grateful to you and we will be there to support you. [End translation from French]

Over the last two months, a lot of Canadians have faced very challenging situations and very difficult choices. Just take workers in the fisheries industry. You can’t harvest lobster from inside your house. So that leaves you trying to figure out how to either space people out on a fishing boat or cancel your operations. It’s not an easy call to make. On top of that, prices and demand have gone down, putting financial pressure on fishers and their families. Taken together, this adds up to a really tough time. So I want you to know that we’re listening, that your local MPs are making sure your concerns are heard. And above all, that help is on the way.

Today, I can announce that we are investing almost four hundred and seventy million dollars to support fish harvesters. First of all, we are creating the Fish Harvesters Benefit. If you’re expecting a 25 per cent drop in income this season. You’ll get support to cover 75 per cent of your losses up to about $10,000. And as a reminder, if you qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy instead, remember that we’ll be extending it beyond June. We’re also introducing additional non-repayable grants of up to $10,000 for fish harvesters who own their own business and need support to bridge to better times. And for workers who are worried about next year. We will change employment insurance rules so that fish harvesters can apply for EI benefits based on the earnings of previous years. This all builds on the investments we’ve made for fish and seafood processors. And for farmers and aquaculture fisheries, we’re also launching a 100 million dollar Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund through Farm Credit Canada. This is yet another option to help agrifood companies facing unexpected financial strain. Whether you’re a fisher, a food processor or a farmer, we’ve got your back and I know all Canadians do, too. And everyone who wants to show their support: Buy Canadian. Pick up some Canadian cheese to help out a local dairy farmer, have a fish fry or buy Canadian lobster. Not only will it taste great, but it’ll help the people who keep putting food on our plates.

[Translation from French] A number of industries are going through tough times right now. And the fisheries are no exception. Not only must people slow down or even stop all their activity to protect their workers, but prices and demand for these products has also declined. That’s why we are introducing the Fish Harvesters Benefit. If you are a harvester who is expecting a 25 per cent drop in your income this season. This measure will help you. It will cover up to 75 per cent of your losses, up to about $10,000. And for people who are eligible to the Emergency Wage Subsidy, we will be extending the program beyond June as we announced last week. We will also be offering other non-repayable subsidies of a maximum value of $10,000 to fishers who are also owners of their own business and need help to come through these tough times.

And for workers who are concerned about the coming year, we will be changing the employment insurance rules so that fishers can apply for EI based on their income from previous years. You are feeding our families. We are listening to what you need to get through this crisis. And we will be there for you from it.

I would now like to talk about what we’re doing to support the Indigenous peoples who have particular difficulties during this pandemic. We set aside three hundred and six million dollars to provide interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions to Indigenous businesses. With respect to First Nations, Inuit and Métis students, we are providing targeted support of more than 75 million dollars, as well as helping young people find a job in their community this summer. And for women and children—Indigenous women and children who are fleeing violence—we have invested 10 million dollars in emergency shelters. We have made significant progress, but we know that there is still more to be done. [End translation from French]

Since day one, our government has been engaging with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation leaders in the fight against this virus. In places like northern Saskatchewan that are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, it’s become very clear that communities need this work to continue. That’s why yesterday we announced support for the Meadow Lake Tribal Council and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan for their pandemic response plan. Through this plan, we’re partnering with communities to provide over 2.3 million dollars for everything from food to supplies. We all want the same thing: To keep people safe and we will continue coordinating to make sure that happens.

I want to end today by recognizing that the May long weekend is coming up. It’ll be different than normal because lots of places, including our national parks, are still closed. But this isn’t forever. Canadians have been doing the right things these past many weeks and that’s why we can announce today some good news for the weeks ahead. As of the beginning of June, some National Parks will be partially reopening so that people in the area can use trails and green spaces where physical distancing is possible. Getting fresh air is important, but we all have to be responsible about it. We have to be prepared to make adjustments as needed. That’s why with the weather getting better, we’re bringing in new regulations on boating as of June 1, to protect vulnerable communities in the north. No pleasure craft will be permitted to operate in Canada’s Arctic coastal waters or in the coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador. Of course, this ban does not include boats used for essential fishing and hunting or for local community use.

[Translation from French] National Parks will remain closed over the weekend, but some will be reopening as early as June 1. You will be able to take advantage of outdoor trails and green spaces while still practicing physical distancing. But we must remain cautious and we have to be ready to adjust to new circumstances. So starting on June 1, pleasure craft will not be able to operate in the coastal waters of the Canadian Arctic or the coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador. That’s what we have to do in order to protect each other. It’s important to remember that this will not be forever. If everyone does their part, we will get through this. Thank you. [End translation from French]