At 11:30 Eastern time (8:30 Pacific Time), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the country. Here is a summary of what was said. Anything that appears in quotes is directly attributable to Trudeau.
Ontario has declared a provincial state of emergency.
“Ontario is taking the right steps.”
Trudeau took a moment to recognize and appreciate all the front line workers, including the retired ones who are returning. Canadians need to do what they can to lighten their load.
DO wash your hands often, Do sneeze into your elbow, and DON’T gather in groups of larger than 50. Even though it’s St. Patrick’s Day, consider celebrating at home. Social distancing is critical.
As much as possible, stay home. Go out only if you must, but mostly stay home. Work remotely if you can. Vulnerable people in the community need your help.
“Things will get better.”
As of Wednesday, Canada Parks is suspending services, which means that anything with them with a door will be closed.
Global Affairs has set up an emergency loan program for up to $5,000 for travellers to return home, and can call 1-613-996-8885. He again reiterated that US citizens were excluded from the closing of the Canadian borders.
$10M has been dedicated to protect businesses. More information on this will be made available “soon.”
Full cabinet will meet this afternoon.
Tomorrow economic actions will be announced for Canadians, regarding the upcoming tax season and more. Emergency economic measures will be taken, though information on that was vague.
“Right now, we must all work together.” Make the choices that help the Canadians around you. Make informed choices. Order take-out instead of dining in. Support your neighbours.
“Things will be better tomorrow.”
From the Q&A
Parliament will be recalled to pass legislative measures that will allow the government to get financial aid directly into Canadian’s pockets through EI and other measures. Other legislative measures are required.
Q: Re US Border:
A: They are working with Americans on this matter. They will do everything they can to keep Canadians safe, and they are keeping the flow of goods open.
Q: How long will this last?
A: We don’t know how long this will take. It could be weeks, it could be months. “We will be there for our country and for our citizens.” They will make sure Canadians are able to “hold through this difficult time.”
Q: Re Indigenous Communities: Why isn’t more being done for their communities?
A: We have worked with them since the beginning of this crisis, and we will continue working with them. Extra measures are being taken.
Q: After two months of inaction, yesterday’s announcement to close the borders to all seems like going from one extreme to another. What’s up?
A: We are responding to the changing circumstances demanded by the virus. We were able to control the spread of the virus from the beginning. The situation has now changed. We will continue to do what is needed.
Q: The US has requested the public to limit meetings to 10 people, why is Canada still saying 50?
A: Canadians should look to as much social distancing as possible. The number 50 comes from the top medical official in Canada, Dr. Tam.
Q: How can you justify abandoning Canadians around the world?
A: We are doing everything we can to facilitate their return, including making money available to repatriate them?
Q: Where will the funds to pay for this come from?
A: We are examining that very carefully. Canada has taken responsible fiscal decisions and we have the room for this. We have to lowest debt ratio from all the G7 countries. The first priority is to get through this crisis.
Q: The provinces are giving different messages than the federal government.
A: The information is similar. Social distancing, don’t go out unless you have to, take care of your neighbours. This is consistent.
Q: Re the US border, what is the difference between cargo coming in and could you clarify your position on this? Are you waiting for Donald Trump to say it’s OK?
A: No, we will always take the best measures for Canadians. Our decisions are based on science, with input from the experts.