Updating Canadians on COVID-19 and announcing new public transit investments in Ontario
Hello everyone. Hello everyone.
It’s a pleasure to be here today with Minister LeBlanc, as well as Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo.
Today, I’ll talk about our fight against COVID-19, and measures we’re taking to create jobs and rebuild a cleaner Canada.
This week is Nurses Week.
It’s an opportunity to recognize the expertise of nurses and their importance within our health care systems.
Of course, it’s also an opportunity to thank them once again for their work.
It is because of the efforts and dedication of nurses across the country that we have been able to get through this difficult year.
Yesterday, I met virtually with nurses in Manitoba to say thank you for their incredible work, and to hear how things are going on the ground.
I got to hear first hand how exhausted they are, but also how determined they are to continue to be there for Canadians.
To nurses across the country, I know this past year has been tough, and that this third wave is even harder, but you keep stepping up for your patients and for Canadians.
Thank you for your dedication, your skill, and your compassion.
Our government will continue to be there for everything you need — from vaccines, to rapid tests, to PPE, and everything else.
Our fight against COVID-19 is not over.
In many parts of the country, cases are still too high and hospitals are still under incredible pressure.
But there is hope.
More Canadians are getting vaccinated every day.
Almost 50% of eligible adults have received at least one shot.
Canada is in the top 3 countries of the G20 in terms of daily vaccinations.
By summer, we’ll have enough vaccines so that every eligible Canadian will have gotten their first dose.
And by September, as we’ve been saying for months, we’ll have enough doses for every Canadian to be fully vaccinated.
So here’s the situation — more and more Canadians are getting vaccinated.
But like we know, cases, in far too many places, are far too high.
We can’t ease public health restrictions until cases are way down.
We all want to have a summer where we can see our loved ones and invite friends over for BBQs.
We can have that summer, we can have a one-dose summer.
But for that, two things need to happen.
First, restrictions need to remain in place until cases go way down, with more screening, testing and contact tracing.
We need to successfully limit community transmission.
Second, as Dr Tam said, at least 75% of Canadians need to have received their first shots.
And we need to keep ramping up those second doses.
If we can do this, then we can have a more normal, better summer.
And a one-dose summer sets us up for a two-dose fall when we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.
That’s what the coming months could look like.
That’s what I’m excited about.
And that’s up to all of us by remaining vigilant, following local public health guidelines to drive case numbers down, and getting vaccinated.
So far, we’ve delivered nearly 20 million doses of vaccine to the provinces and territories.
Next week, and every week in May, we will receive 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
In Quebec, the vaccine rollout is going very well.
I would like to thank everyone who is part of this tremendous effort to keep Quebeckers and Canadians safe.
If it’s your turn to receive a vaccine, you can do your part by making an appointment.
Let’s continue to work together to put an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible.
Across the country, we’re continuing our efforts to fight the third wave.
Our government is prepared to do everything it can to support the provinces and territories, and all Canadians.
In the last few weeks, Nunavut has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.
As soon as numbers started going up, we moved quickly to keep people safe by sending more PPE and medical equipment.
But even more help is needed, so that’s what we’re going to provide.
We’re working with the Government of Nunavut and the NTI on additional and immediate support for Nunavut.
This funding will help with everything from food security to communities with active cases, to providing better IT equipment for students who need to do remote learning, to additional health supports to protect people.
Our government’s priority is to keep you safe, no matter where you live.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do.
As I said last week, we also continue to help other countries that have been hard hit by this crisis.
This morning, I can confirm that a second Canadian Armed Forces plane left for India with medical ventilators – which we have in surplus – to help support their hospitals in battling the virus.
We know that to beat the pandemic once and for all, we need to stop it everywhere around the world.
The fight against COVID-19 is a global effort and Canada will always be there to do its part.
Ending this pandemic is job one.
But as we come into what’s hopefully the final stretch of this crisis, we also have to look to building a strong recovery for every Canadian and every community.
On that note, today, I want to talk about another major step we’re taking to make our communities more connected, create jobs, and fight climate change.
We’ve reached a historic agreement on public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
If you live in the GTHA, even if you’re working from home right now, I don’t have to tell you what the traffic’s like.
After a busy day at work, you want to spend time with your family, not hours commuting.
Not only that, but heavy traffic also causes a lot of pollution.
That’s why we’re working with Ontario to make improvements to public transit that people in the GTHA can count on.
We are investing over $12 billion, including in four subway projects in the GTA, and one rapid transit project in Hamilton.
To begin with, we’re investing in the Ontario Line project, which will bring rapid transit from Exhibition Place, through downtown, to the Ontario Science Centre.
Anyone in Toronto can tell you that the subway is way too busy — sometimes in rush hour, people have to wait for two or three trains to go by before they can even get on.
This major investment will help not only deal with that, but also create thousands of good jobs and get gridlock traffic off the roads.
The second project for the GTA is the Eglinton Crosstown West extension.
This will create a continuous rapid transit line along Eglinton Avenue between Scarborough and Mississauga, a part of the city that needs better crosstown service.
Again, this will create jobs, lighten traffic, and keep air in the GTA clean.
The third and fourth transit projects we’re investing in for the GTA are the Yonge Street North Subway extension and the Scarborough Subway extension.
On Yonge Street North, we’re extending Line 1 north to Vaughan, Markham, and Richmond Hill.
If you live in the north of the city, this means cutting down your commute by almost half an hour.
For people in Scarborough, who don’t currently have good transit options, this investment will mean three more stops along Line 2.
That’s what this investment means for the GTA.
Here’s what it means for Hamilton.
We’re going to provide major support for rapid transit in Hamilton, for a line that will go from McMaster University in the west, through downtown, all the way to Eastgate Centennial Park in Stoney Creek.
Just like the transit projects in Toronto, this will support jobs, make people’s commutes better, and cut down on pollution.
This $12 billion in funding means people will get where they need to go faster, all with tens of thousands fewer cars on the road daily.
In addition, part of this funding will go toward buying zero-emissions streetcars for the TTC.
Not only will these new streetcars help keep Toronto’s air clean – this deal will also help protect good, middle class jobs at the Alstom automotive plant in Thunder Bay.
Ordering these streetcars for Toronto public transit will also help to support workers at the Alstom plant in La Pocatière.
Canada is a leader in the public transportation manufacturing sector, whether it’s zero-emission buses or subway and light rail cars.
We will continue to encourage this industry here in Canada.
Minister McKenna will share more details about these investments later today and throughout the week.
The federal government always listens to Canadians, which is why we pushed hard for key conditions in the funding agreement to improve the outcomes from the projects, including community and environmental benefits, affordable housing, and more citizen engagement.
But the bottom line is this: rapid transit shortens commutes, which gives parents more time with their kids, and ensures kids will inherit a cleaner future.
Public transit is at the heart of a strong recovery and a growing middle class.
It’s also part of our plan to reach net-zero by 2050.
Investments like these are key to making communities more livable and affordable — communities people can love to call home.
By working together to improve the quality of life of Canadians now and for the future, we can rebuild a stronger, cleaner Canada for everyone.