Trudeau’s daily coronavirus briefing: On what needs to be done to reopen the economy [Full Transcript]

The PM said restarting the economy will require a national approach. ’If we don’t get the next phase right, we risk losing all the progress we’ve made so far.’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, April 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, April 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

I wanted to thank the organizers of yesterday’s vigil for the victims of the Nova Scotia shooting. The pandemic may have prevented us from gathering in person, but we still found a way to come together to celebrate the lives of the victims, and support their families. It was an extremely moving tribute, and it was just yet another example of how Canadians are there for each other in difficult times. Once again, my thoughts and the thoughts of all Canadians are with the families and loved ones of the victims.

This week, our government announced more targeted support for Canadians who are going through an especially hard time because of COVID-19. With the Canada Emergency Community Support Fund, we’re giving more resources to charities and non-profits so that they can continue their important work.

We also unveiled our $9 billion plan to help students and recent grads get through the next few months. Because of COVID-19 there aren’t as many jobs for students as last year, and without a job, it can be hard to pay for tuition, or the day-to-day basics. So, we launched the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which gives the students $1,250 a month from May to August.

At the same time, we’re creating 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or are on the front-line of the pandemic. And if students prefer to volunteer and help in the fight against COVID-19, they’ll be eligible for a $1,000 to $5,000 grant through the new Canada Student Service Grant.

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[speaking in French] For small businesses, we announced yesterday that we had reached agreements with all the provinces and territories to lower by 75 percent their rent for the months of April, May and June. I also want to take this opportunity to remind employers of all sizes that they can apply, starting Monday, to receive the Emergency Wage Subsidy. In the meantime, you can go to the site of the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate what the subsidy will cover. Our government is providing help to meet immediate and urgent needs of both workers and businesses. At the same time, we are also thinking of what to expect in the coming months. We are providing more funding to medical research on COVID-19 and the development of a vaccine. This week, we put in place the COVID-19 immunity task force, whose mission will be to trace infection and get a better understanding of how we can become immunized against the virus.

Since the outbreak, our objectives as a government  have been clear—help those who need it most, protect jobs, support the small businesses that make our communities a better place to call home, and lay the groundwork for our economy to come roaring back once this crisis is over.

In the past few weeks, our government introduced a series of measures to do just that, but we know there are more people to help, more work to be done. So today, we’re announcing $62.5 million to support fish and seafood processors through this crisis. As we fight COVID-19, people who work in fish and seafood processing plants across the country are playing a crucial role when it comes to getting food to our tables. This funding will help ensure that they can safely continue their important work. We’re giving more money to processors so that they can purchase personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols and support other social distancing measures. For example, fish processing plants could buy new equipment, like freezers or storage space, so that their product—food for Canadians—can stay good while they respond to a changing market.

With this announcement, we’re giving fish and seafood processors more resources to adapt to the many challenges brought on by the pandemic and above all, keep workers safe. Our fish sector is interconnected, so these investments will also have a positive impact on fish harvesters.

On that note, I want to take a moment to recognize the tremendous work that is being done by every person who makes Canada’s food system possible, including our food producers and fish harvesters. You keep our grocery stores stocked, and our families fed. I know that the past few weeks have been really tough on you, too, whether it be financially or emotionally. I want to thank you all for everything you do for us. You’re providing an essential service to the country. We know that you have specific needs and asks right now, and we are actively exploring additional ways to support you as we move forward.

Yesterday, I had a call with the first ministers and we talked about putting together a joint statement outlining what needs to be done to reopen the economy. We’re working together with Canada’s chief medical officers to establish principles and guidelines for us all. We have to be mindful that the economy and the realities of each province and territory are unique, so the timing and specific measures will be different across jurisdictions. But we need a co-ordinated approach nationally to avoid any confusion amongst Canadians.

We’re working together on a plan based on science, data and expert advice that lays out our common ambition to see our country through this. If we don’t get the next phase right, we risk losing all the progress we’ve made so far. These conversations are ongoing and we will keep working together for all Canadians.

Tomorrow there won’t be any press conferences, either by doctors or myself, so I want to close this morning by talking directly to young Canadians, as I do every weekend. All the kids watching out there, you’re doing great. Keep helping out around the house, try to keep up with your school work and above all, stay positive. This is a tough time, but we’re going to get through this together.

And to young people out there, many of you are students who need extra help and we’re here for you. This week, we announced a series of measures to support you during this crisis. But we need your help, too. This is a moment in our country’s history that we will look back on and ask each of ourselves what we did for our community, for our country. What did we do to serve our country, to help the world? And as you look at what you can do this summer, please remember that there are seniors who need your help. There are front-line workers, including in our medical professions, who could use a helping hand. And there are agricultural farmers and producers who’d love to see you step up to help feed Canadians. Look at how you can use your energy, your drive, your vision for making the world a better place, and make it so.

How we get through this as a country depends on each of us — the choices we make, the actions we take. So this weekend, stay home. Keep washing your hands. And if you need to go out for groceries, keep at least two meters apart from each other. And think about what you can do in the fight against COVID-19 to support our front-line workers, to help your community. I know that we will help each other to get through this, because that’s just who we are as Canadians.

Merci beaucoup, have a great weekend.