Justin Trudeau’s address to the nation: ‘The second wave is underway’ [Full transcript]

In his live address on Wednesday, the PM focused on renewed efforts to keep people safe as COVID numbers spike and plans to ‘build back better’

Shortly after the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Canadians in a televised address about the pandemic and this fall’s second wave. The following is a transcript of his address: 

Good afternoon. I want to speak directly to you today because Canada is at a crossroads.

[speaking in French] I know that the fight against COVID-19 has been difficult for all Canadians over the last six months. For too many people it is a question of life and death. And for all of us, collectively, it is the fight of our generation. During the spring, we all worked together and we managed to bring down COVID-19. However, now the [tide] is turning. [French ends]

The second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway. The numbers are clear.

Back on March 13th, when we went into lockdown, there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over a thousand. We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.

I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. We can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s. Those were already decided by what we did or didn’t do two weeks ago. But what we can change is where we are in October and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.

Together we have the power to get the second wave under control. I know we can do it because we’ve already done it once before. In the spring, we all did our part by staying home. And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox. People are wearing masks. That’s critical. So keep it up. We’ve got the COVID Alert app. Take the teacher who felt fine, but he gets a positive after the app warned her she’d been exposed. COVID Alert meant she went home instead of the classroom. It’s a powerful free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy. So if you haven’t already, download it off the App Store or Google Play. It’s one more way to keep ourselves and others safe. Another is to get your flu shot this fall.

[speaking in French] What we do today will make all the difference with what will happen within two weeks or two months. Wearing masks saves lives. Keep your distance with people and get the flu shot… Do restrict your social circle and avoid taking risks which are not necessary. This is not the time to hold parties. Nobody is invincible. So we shouldn’t lower our guard even in places where the number of cases is still low. Please, everybody do download the COVID Alert app. It is easy. It is free. It protects your private life and it will help you and the people around you. [French ends]

There is a covenant between government and the people government serves. You need to know that you can rely on us, just like you can rely on each other.

[speaking in French] As we are confronting this crisis, we are ready to rebuild the country. The government has submitted a plan with four pillars to meet the crisis. Firstly, we need to protect the health of people. And the actions taken by parents and grandparents—the generation which confronted the Great Depression and World War II—remind us that we have to be resilient and patient during a crisis. They have built today’s world. And it is now for us to build tomorrow’s world, starting with protection for our elders. The situation for too many people in long term care homes is unacceptable. It’s time for it to change and it will change. So we will start working as of today with the provinces and territories in order to establish new national standards for long term care. [French ends]

Job number 1 is keeping people safe. That’s why we’re signing deals on multiple potential vaccines, on therapeutics, on personal protective equipment. In fact, because we mobilized this spring, Canadians are now producing almost every type of PPE we need.

We’re helping provinces and territories ramp up their capacity on testing while creating a federal response team for surge demand. And as soon as there’s approval for faster tests to be used safely, we’ll get them out across the country. If you need a test, you should be able to get one and get it quickly. This is about safety. And it’s about what’s right for Canadians. Protecting your health is the best thing we can do for the economy. So that’s what we’re working on first.

That brings me to the second part of the plan, supporting Canadians through this pandemic. The federal government will have your back, whatever it takes to help you get through this process. Maybe you were one of the almost nine million people who used the Canada Emergency Response Benefit this spring. We will continue to support all those who need it with a strengthened and broadened employment insurance system.

Maybe your boss was able to keep you on the job or hire you back because the Emergency Wage Subsidy helped with the payroll. People still need this program, so we’re extending it right through to next summer. Or perhaps you’re a business owner needing extra help to bridge to better times. For you, among other measures, we’re expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account. And there also more we’re going to do. Go to to see what support is available right now and how it will apply.

I know some people are asking how we can afford to do all this for Canadians. That’s fair. The low interest rates mean we can afford it. And in fact, doing less would end up costing far more. Doing less would mean a slower recovery and bigger deficits in the long run. While we’re dealing with this pandemic, I don’t want you or your parent or your friend to take on debt that your government can better shoulder. So, yes, in the short term, we’ll keep investing. But beyond the emergency, as we start to build back better, we must do that in a fiscally and sustainable way. Investing for a recovery must be done responsibly.

[speaking in French] The pandemic has shown inequalities in our economy, but here we have the opportunity to act in order to change this. We will be building a better society for all by building a better economy for all. And this is a third pillar of our approach. [French ends]

I created a Canada-wide, early learning and childcare system. We’ll ensure that kids have access to care that no parent, especially no mother, has to put their career on hold. This pandemic has reminded us all that building strong social supports is essential to growing the economy. By accelerating progress on national universal pharmacare, we’ll get people the medicine they need while alleviating pressure on the health care system.

[speaking in French] If we invest in order to eliminate homelessness, we will create more prosperous communities. Because this is also a solution. We are creating jobs; we allow people to fulfill themselves. We all want to build a stronger country for everybody. And in order to do so, we need to double down in our efforts to fight climate change. This is also the best way to have better jobs for today and tomorrow. [French ends]

[inaudible] Autoworkers building zero emission vehicles, engineers and construction workers delivering green retrofits for homes and buildings. These are some of the people who will create a competitive economy of the future.

As we do this work, protecting people’s health, supporting Canadians, building back better, we can’t forget what it’s all for. Making sure that everyone can participate to their full potential. And that’s the final part of the plan. As a country, we must keep making progress on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and on fighting systemic racism. Diversity is not just our strength, it’s our competitive edge.

[speaking in French] Our differences make us richer, whatever creed or culture or language. In our country, we’re proud to have two official languages, French and English, which we will continue protecting Canada. We know that we’re stronger when we are united, and when we help one another and we confront the challenges together. This is what helped us manage the crisis much better than others. [French ends]

Our country has been called to stand united and strong. In the face of change our greatest generation showed us overcoming crisis isn’t easy. They didn’t give up and neither can we. To parents feeling like you can’t get your life under control. To kids wondering why mom and dad can’t just fix this. To seniors feeling like there’s nothing you can do. And thinking about all the things you can’t do. That’s understandable. But it can’t—will not—define us. We can bend the curve. We can build a stronger future. We can define the change.

[speaking in French] In Canada we are people who say I’m able to do it. And throughout the country, each of us is doing his or her best. People who accept sacrifices. People who work hard day in, day out for one another. This is the story of our frontline workers from coast to coast to coast who’d never let down anyone. They are a source of inspiration for all of us. We are at a crossroads and the future is in our hands. [French ends]

There are many days to go before we get to the other side of this. But there are also many of us to get us there so long as we each remember to do our part. And I know that we will. We are Canadians and together there’s nothing we can’t do.

[speaking in French] Take care of yourselves, my friends. Thank you.

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