Remarks on the situation in Portapique, Nova Scotia and updates on COVID-19
Before we get started, I want to touch briefly on the unfolding events in Portapique, Nova Scotia.
I know we’ve all been watching this on the news.
My heart goes out to everyone affected, in what is a terrible situation.
I want to thank the police for their hard work, and people for cooperating with authorities.
I want to wish a happy Orthodox Easter to everyone who is celebrating today.
Even if it’s just over Skype, I hope you can spend this special day with family and friends.
Although this pandemic has affected everyone, some people have been hit especially hard.
Right now, too many Canadians are facing some really difficult situations.
If you live with a disability, I don’t have to tell you what this can look like.
You might be worried about whether your support worker will be able to keep coming.
You might be concerned about getting groceries or about your finances.
And if you’re caring for someone with a disability, you’re probably anxious about getting support, too.
Your voice matters.
Your experience is important.
And our government is listening.
If this crisis has laid bare the gaps that still exist for far too many Canadians, it has also given us an opportunity to address them.
It has encouraged us to have even more meaningful conversations about how we make our country a more inclusive, and a more equitable place.
Last week, Minister Qualtrough launched a COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group as part of our plan to keep all Canadians healthy, informed, and safe.
We’re addressing key issues like equal access to healthcare and information, as well as support on jobs and income.
And we’re doing all of this work with you at the table.
On that note, I want to recognize the outstanding organizations right across the country, like the Rick Hansen Foundation, that are bringing these issues to the fore.
You are doing incredible work, and we are proud to be your partner.
In response to the pandemic, we have developed a three-point economic plan to help Canadians get through this tough time.
We introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help people who’ve lost their wages, we brought in new loans for businesses, and we introduced the wage subsidy.
But there is still work to do.
There are still people to reach.
That’s why, this past week, we expanded the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to include workers making up to $1,000 a month, seasonal workers, and those whose EI regular benefits have recently run out.
It’s why we put in place new measures to support people in the energy industry, which is suffering right now.
And we also brought in support for people who continue to do incredible work in the arts, culture, and sports communities.
And it’s why we have kept making progress with the provinces and territories on increasing wages for essential workers who need it.
Now, things are tough for employers, too.
So we brought in a whole range of additional support, on loans and credit, and for Indigenous businesses and businesses in the North.
And for communities that need extra support, we approved requests to have the Canadian Armed Forces assist in Quebec long-term care facilities, as well as in Nunavik and in Basse-Côte-Nord.
Today, I can announce that we have also approved the extension of a request from the Government of Quebec, for the Canadian Rangers to help NEW-tash-kwan and Eh-KWAN-eh-chit First Nations near Basse-Côte-Nord.
All these measures we’ve brought in are about helping you do the things that will get us through this.
And it’s working.
We’re seeing the numbers trend in the right direction.
So we need to keep doing what we’re doing, and keep being extremely careful.
And we will get through this together.
That said, although we’re seeing encouraging trends, we need to be realists.
Across the country, thousands of families are living through dreadful situations and having heart-wrenching moments because of this pandemic.
I would like to take this time to express my condolences to those who are in mourning.
Every Canadian shares your sorrow and stands with you through this terrible hardship.
Know that the government is there for you, and we will get through these difficult moments together.
It’s hard to watch the news without thinking about these seniors in their homes who can’t see their children or their grandchildren, except through FaceTime, and who are afraid.
Who see the news about the situation in seniors’ centres across the province, across the country. They are worried and left wondering whether they’ll ever see their children and grandchildren some day.
It is extremely difficult and we must do everything for them by working together, and also by emphasizing that we must continue to stay home, we must continue to stop the spread of this virus, and together we’ll get through it.
And because it’s Sunday, I want to end again by talking directly to all the kids who might be watching.
This week is National Volunteer Week.
That means we say thank you to everyone around us doing things like helping seniors get groceries, or putting in a shift at a foodbank.
You can join in from home too.
Ask your parents if you can help them make dinner and do extra cleaning around the house.
Help your brother or sister with schoolwork.
Say hi – over FaceTime – to your grandparents, who I know are missing you.
Young, and young at heart, we can all make a real difference.
I heard a great story the other day about a restaurant in Nova Scotia, The Canteen.
They’ve turned their restaurant into a community kitchen, where people pitch in and get meals to those in need.
And there have been thousands of Canadians who have already signed up through our National COVID-19 Volunteer Recruitment Campaign, to lighten the load on our frontline workers.
Everyone can help out. Everyone can help us get through this.
And right now, as we face a challenge like none we’ve ever known, we all have a chance to contribute.
And I know that we will all continue to do our part.
Thank you very much.