Trudeau’s daily coronavirus update: New spending to protect health care workers ’on the frontlines of this fight’ (Full transcript)

In his March 31 briefing to Canadians, the prime minister announced $2 billion will go towards items like masks, face shields and gowns
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday, March 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday, March 30, 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, where he remains in isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Here are his remarks for March 31, 2020.

Bonjour tout le monde, hello everyone.

First thing I want to do this morning is to share an update about the Ukrainian International Airlines tragedy that took so many innocent lives earlier this year. Even as we face this new crisis, families and loved ones continue to grieve and seek answers. I want to ensure them and all Canadians that we have been working hard to get accountability and justice even as we fight this pandemic. At the same time, we’ve also been developing a strategy with our other international partners to make sure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Today I’m appointing the honourable Ralph Goodale as my special adviser for Canada’s ongoing response to the downing of Flight 752. With his decades of extraordinary service to Canada including as minister of public safety, Ralph has the right expertise to guide our response to this air disaster and provide recommendations for best practices going forward. He will also continue to push to see families properly compensated.

The second thing I want to do is share a story with you. A few weeks ago, Dave Caputo, the owner of a startup named Trusscore in the Waterloo region, called a meeting with his employees. With mounting concerns around COVID-19, Dave asked his team how they could repurpose their building materials factory to make products hospitals needed.

READ: Fear and anger on the frontlines: What happens if there aren’t enough masks?

A few days later, they had four prototypes drawn up. They decided to make large panels, which hospitals could use to subdivide rooms and isolate people with COVID-19 from other patients. Well, on Monday, panels made of fully recyclable materials—recycled materials—were delivered at no cost to several hospitals in the region, including Grand River, St. Mary’s and Guelph General Hospital.

Dave and his team showed what Canadians do in difficult times. We don’t back down from a challenge. We roll up our sleeves and we get to work.

I know that this pandemic has been incredibly challenging for people right across the country, but we’re also seeing the best of what it means to be Canadian.

From coast to coast to coast, businesses are retooling to produce face shields, ventilators, hand sanitizers and other supplies our health-care professionals need. To make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time, we launched Canada’s plan to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19 a little over a week ago. In the time since, we’ve spoken directly to almost 3,000 companies who’ve reached out to offer their help.

Before we go any further, I want to thank all the owners, entrepreneurs and managers who’ve answered our call to action. This vital support comes at a critical time, and the way you looked around and said not, “How can I keep myself safe?” but, “How can I keep myself and my employees safe—and help out in this critical time?” is a real sign of leadership and a sign of what Canadians do best. In tough times, we pull together and we’re there for each other. We put up our hands and we ask, “How can we help?”

I also want in the same vein to thank everyone who’s making, shipping and delivering these products. People who work in the manufacturing sector, in terms of getting people the items they need, are on the frontlines of this fight. Our country needs you through these tough times, and we thank you deeply for everything you do.

We said that we were close to reaching agreements with Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience. Today, we’re announcing that we have moved forward with contracts with these three Canadian companies to make supplies such as ventilators, surgical masks, and test kits. I want to recognize the great work Minister Bains has done to make this happen. We’ve also signed letters of intent with five other companies: Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calgo Group, and Stanfields. We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks, so we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products. And that means making them at home, and we’re optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks.

Demand for these goods is going up, so we’re making sure Canada is ready to keep up. That’s why our government is also allocating $2 billion to purchase protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories. This includes things like more masks and face shields, gowns, ventilators, test kits and swabs, and hand sanitizer.

Protective personal equipment is essential to protect our health care workers who are on the front lines of this fight. We recognize that more is needed and everyone is working day and night to receive essential supplies. We’re coordinating with the provinces and territories, the public health agency and the experts, to make sure our health care workers get everything they need. This is a priority for our government and we will continue to source new solutions every day. We’re expecting shipments to come in in the coming days and we will continue to work tirelessly to get these supplies to where they are needed.

[Translation from French] A number of companies have also donated equipment and medical equipment to fight COVID-19. Alibaba sent us 500,000 surgical masks and 100,000 testing kits to help us.

The COVID-19 medical group that brings together engineers, entrepreneurs and other health care professionals is working with a number of companies to provide medical equipment.

Up until now they have been able to get a commitment from Bombardier, 3M and Metronic to produce personal protective equipment. And Toys“R”Us has pledged to provide baby monitors so that there can be better communication between patients and health care professionals. Those monitors will also help to reduce unnecessary travel within the facilities.

I want to thank the many companies who have made a donation for their leadership and generosity. You are doing your share and all Canadians will have to follow your lead. [French translation ends]

There’s no question that we will need more masks, ventilators and testing kits. But how many more we need depends entirely on you. If you stay home and follow public health recommendations you can slow the spread. And that means fewer patients in our hospitals, fewer people to test, fewer ventilators to use on critical patients.

So keep doing your part and help us keep Canada safe. Merci Beaucoup.