Remarks on vaccination commitments and COVID-19
Hello, everyone. What a pleasure it is to be here with you today.
What a pleasure to be here with you all today.
A few hours ago, I spoke with the Governor General and confirmed for her that it is my intention of forming the next government. We just got through an election where Canadians made it very clear the kinds of things they want us to work on, and I’m looking forward to getting into it.
I just had a conversation with the Governor General and confirmed my intention to form the next government and continue to serve Canadians in the coming years.
It’s been a busy week already, from phone calls with premiers to talk about their priorities, to conversations with President Biden, to of course on Saturday morning, welcoming home Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to Canada, which was unbelievably good news. It was quite amazing, to after having thought about them and worked on their case, and been there in my mind for them over the past two and a half years, to actually see them in person was a very good day for… I think, for all Canadians, but it was… it was nice to be part of, on the past weekend.
I'm here this morning for a number of reasons. First of all, to announce to all of you that I have asked to Chrystia Freeland to continue serving as Deputy Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance, and she has accepted. I am very pleased to be able to continue to rely on Chrystia as we do the big things that Canadians have tasked their politicians and their government to do in the coming years. I look forward to getting into it with her and with the other members of Cabinet who I’ll be asking to join over the coming weeks.
We will be swearing in Cabinet in the month of October, and we will be bringing back the House of Commons before the end of fall; the exact dates still to be worked out, but we are busy getting into the business of delivering on an ambitious agenda that Canadians laid out.
I’m very pleased to announce today that Chrystia Freeland will once again be Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. We have a big job ahead of us so we will get to work right away to deliver on the ambitious plan that Canadians chose in this last election.
We will swear in Cabinet in October and bring back Parliament this fall; the exact dates will be finalized in the coming weeks.
I chose to make my first announcement a week after the election here at a vaccine clinic to emphasize that of all the different priorities we continue to have, getting through this COVID-19 crisis remains our very top priority. We're seeing right now in different places across the country, significant struggles with this fourth wave, particularly in Alberta, and it looks increasingly like to Saskatchewan as well. Our hearts go out to all folks who are dealing with extremely difficult situations because of this pandemic, because of this fourth wave.
I can assure you that over the past week, officials at all levels of government have been engaged with their counterparts in Alberta and in Saskatchewan to offer any and all support we can offer, from equipment like ventilators, that we've already begun sending out, to human resources, whether it's Canadian Armed Forces or Canadian Red Cross, whether it's facilitating the offers from other provinces who’ve offered to send folks to support, we will be there to support people in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and anywhere across the country where people are continuing to face the challenges around COVID.
But of course, the way through this pandemic, everyone knows is to ensure that as many people as possible get vaccinated. We're up over 80% of eligible Canadians having received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is great news, but there is more to do.
Here in this vaccine clinic today I was able, first of all, to thank the incredible frontline workers from Ottawa Public Health who really have stepped up, not just these days but over the past 18 months, to ensure that people are getting vaccinated. But I also had the opportunity to chat with some people who decided that it was finally time to get their first dose, and I thanked them for it.
And it's… there are a lot of different reasons people are deciding to get vaccinated after having been unsure for a number of months, and I'm just so pleased that they're doing that. It was a combination of, “I need it for work,” “I'm doing it for my kids, I want to get back to the things I care about.” These are all good reasons, and we need people who still haven't been vaccinated to choose to get vaccinated.
We have, as a few months ago, received enough vaccines for everyone who's eligible in this country, so please step up and do what you need to do to keep yourself, your family, your community, and indeed our country safe. We know are they getting vaccination rates up is the way to ensure not only we're keeping our loved ones safe, but we're keeping our health systems from getting overloaded, we're keeping away from having to do further lockdowns in our communities, and we're allowing our economy and normal life to get back as quickly as possible.
The top priority remains getting everyone their vaccine. That’s the reason I’m here today at a vaccine clinic here in Ottawa to encourage people to continue to get vaccinated and to thank those who have been working on these vaccination programs for many, many months, and to remind people that vaccination is the way through this.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce that our priorities as a government will begin with five clear things that we’re going to do for vaccination. First, we are moving forward immediately on the mandate for federal government employees to be vaccinated; we will be making announcements about this in the days and weeks ahead.
Second, we’re going to make sure that everyone 12 years of age and older on a plane or train will have to be vaccinated.
Third, we’re going to establish a vaccination certificate system for international travel to ensure that partner countries around the world will be able to recognize and accept Canadians’ proof of vaccination.
Fourth, as promised, we’re going to be there to reimburse the province for the expenses incurred on vaccination certificates. We know that these vaccine passports are essential for a return to normal for as many people as possible, and so we will be there to eliminate the financial concerns for the provinces for this program and we will reimburse them for it.
And fifth, we’re going to draft legislation to protect our health care workers to make sure that anyone who harasses or intimidates health care workers on the job or on their way to work faces criminal sanctions.
Vaccination is and continues to be a huge priority for us as a government, and that's why we're going to be moving forward on five clear things, commitments we made during this election, as our first priorities.
First off, we're going to ensure that the federal public service is vaccinated. There is a clear requirement of vaccination for anyone who works for the federal government.
Second, we're going to make sure in the coming weeks that anyone 12 or older who wants to get on a plane, or a train, be fully vaccinated.
Third, we're going to work on continuing to establish… we're going to continue work on establishing international proof of vaccination so that Canadians who are fully vaccinated and want to travel overseas, are fully recognized in their vaccination status when they travel.
Fourth, we're going to foot the bill for provinces and territories who have moved forward on proof of vaccination certificates or vaccine passports, because we know that encouraging people to get vaccinated and protecting those who have gotten vaccinated is the key way through this pandemic and out of it.
And fifth, we're going to keep good on our word to protect our frontline health workers who have stepped up for us these past many, many months, and ensure that anyone who harasses or intimidates them is faced with criminal sanctions. That's a commitment we made during this campaign and it’s something that Canadians want to see.
On top of that, we have many, many other priorities that we're going to be working on, whether it's completing the childcare agreements with the provinces so that $10-a-day childcare is a reality as soon as possible right across the country, which is both great for families but also great for the economy and the recovery. We're going to be moving forward on 10 days paid sick leave for federally regulated areas and work with the provinces to make sure that they're stepping up on that in their jurisdictions as well. We're going to keep making sure that we're moving forward on housing and on supports for people on affordability and growing the economy.
We’re going to continue to focus on the economy, on childcare spots, on housing assistance, on issues I know were big concerns for Canadians during this election. We’re also going to prepare for the Glasgow climate change conference, where we will get started on some extremely ambitious plans that we were elected on in this last election. We’re going to continue with that.
We're going to prepare to go to Glasgow for the COP 26 on the environment with ambitious commitments and continue to improve our opportunities to create jobs and careers for people in a greener, cleaner economy as Canada transforms its approach and we support workers to that transformation.
And finally, this week we will be marking the very first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. We have celebrated September 30th as Orange Shirt Day for a number of years but now it is also the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It'll be an important moment for all Canadians to reflect on both the historic legacy of harm that residential schools has created, but also the very current echoes in the present and in the future that those harms and those mistakes made by Canada in the past continue to deliver. So, this Thursday will be an important day for reconciliation as we continue to make that a key priority for our government.
Lots to do, lots of…lots of work ahead, but I'm very excited about it, and very excited about getting back to work this past week.