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Prime Minister’s remarks on the COVID-19 situation and support for Veterans

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Hello everyone.

I want to begin by addressing the COVID-19 situation in Manitoba.

The record numbers the province has seen over the last few days is really concerning.

In light of this surge, we’re partnering with Manitoba First Nations to provide over $61 million in immediate funding to support their response.

This funding will support public health measures, food security, and other surge capacity needs.  

In addition, Indigenous Services Canada is mobilizing contact tracers and equipment to further help affected communities.

Of course, Manitoba isn’t alone. Across the country, and around the world, we’re seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

This was the main focus of my calls with President-elect Biden and Prime Minister Johnson yesterday. 

With rising cases of COVID-19 here at home, there’s added pressure on all orders of government to keep people safe and to protect jobs.  

But I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy.

I understand that worry, but let me tell you: that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.

Beating COVID is the only way to protect our economy.

Yes, we have great news of possible vaccines on the horizon.

But a vaccine later won’t help you or your family if you get sick now.

The federal government is here to help your communities. 

We are providing unprecedented direct support to those businesses impacted by any shutdown orders.

We are there for workers who lose hours. Who lose their job.

It’s tough, but I know we can get through this.

In recent days, Canada posted a record number of cases and we are very concerned about the situation.

So I urge the Premiers and the Mayors to please do the right thing: act now to protect public health.

If you think something is missing in the support we’re offering your citizens – tell us.

We will work with you, as we have since day one. 

This federal government promised to have Canadians’ backs.

And we will.

Whatever it takes, for as long it takes.

The virus is spreading quickly and that is why we must continue our efforts.

So once again, I am asking all Canadians to please follow your local public health guidelines: 

Wash your hands.

Wear a mask.

Keep a safe two-metre distance from each other.

And download the COVID Alert app.

Together, we will get through this. 

Job one right now is keeping people safe.

So whether it’s by buying more PPE or helping to ramp up testing, that’s what our government is focused on.

Over the past few days, we’ve provided over 1.2 million pairs of nitrile gloves to workers on the front lines, with millions more to come.

We’ve also provided over 3.3 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories, with more on the way.

And to ensure that we have as many resources as possible, Health Canada approved another rapid test, the BD Veritor. This is a handheld device that can process a test in just over 15 minutes.

Canada has a contract for 7.6 million of these tests overall, with millions arriving before the end of this year.

We expect delivery to start in the next few weeks.

Finding a safe, effective vaccine is vital to stop the spread of COVID-19.

That’s why we’ve secured millions of doses of potential vaccines from the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers and therapeutics.

Right now, scientists and companies are working around the clock, and just yesterday, we heard promising news from Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine candidate.

Canada signed a deal to secure millions of these doses back in August, adding to our diverse portfolio of potential vaccines and therapeutics.

We will continue to support researchers and scientists in the weeks and months to come.

And when a vaccine is approved, we will be ready.

Since the start of this pandemic, we’ve seen Canadian companies step up to make personal protective equipment.

And as a part of our Made in Canada plan, we’ve been supporting businesses like General Motors in Oshawa to do just that.

So far, they’ve made nearly five million masks for people right here at home.

These are masks made by Canadians, for Canadians.

And the production of these essential pieces of PPE are creating good jobs. 

On that note, the newly ratified agreement between GM and Unifor is great news for workers and for our auto industry in Canada.

I spoke with Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, yesterday and we’re both excited about what our future collaboration could bring.

This agreement brings up to 1,700 new, good-paying jobs in Oshawa, while securing jobs in St. Catharines and Woodstock.

This is a vote of confidence by industry leaders in Canada’s economy. 

Our government will continue to work with our partners to ensure that Canadians get good jobs they can rely on.   

I want to end this morning by taking a moment to recognize that tomorrow, we will mark Remembrance Day.

Canadians would normally gather at cenotaphs across the country to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom.

People would gather at local Royal Canadian Legions, to thank the heroes who kept this country strong and free.

But this year will be different.

COVID-19 means many ceremonies are online. Many veterans are staying at home.

And too many of the Legions that provide support for them are facing tough times themselves.

Our veterans served Canada with honour and valour.

They stepped up for us, and now, we must step up for them.

So today, I can announce that the Government of Canada is providing $20 million to create the new Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund.

This fund is designed to help veterans’ organizations keep providing services to support those affected by the crisis.

Over $17 million of the funding will go to the Royal Canadian Legion, ANAVETS, True Patriot Love, and VETS Canada.

The remaining amount is available – through application – to other veterans’ organizations that have been affected by COVID-19. Minister MacAulay will have more to share on this in a few minutes.  

But to the women and men who have served our country, I want to say this – you represent the best of who we are, and we will forever be in your debt.

And to all those who bravely serve today – thank you for everything you do.

This week, even if we cannot get together as we usually do, we can still show support for our veterans by wearing a poppy and watching Remembrance Day ceremonies online.

I encourage Canadians to search for the hashtag #CanadaRemembers on social media to read stories of service and sacrifice by our brave men and women in uniform. 

On this Remembrance Day, let’s pay tribute to our veterans who have given so much and to our military personnel who continue to be there for us.

Thank you.