Trudeau: Country on brink of fall that could be "much worse than the spring"

The prime minister's speech followed Governor General Julie Payette's Throne Speech earlier in the day

In a rare primetime address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians that the country is on the brink of a fall "that could be much worse than the spring."

"The second wave isn't just starting, it's already underway," said Trudeau, noting that when Canada first entered a lockdown mid-March, it did so after 47 cases had been identified. Yesterday alone, well over 1,000 cases were reported.

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"Job one is keeping people safe," he said, echoing remarks made earlier in the day by Governor General Julie Payette. "Protecting your health is the best thing we can do for the economy."

On the health front, Trudeau said Ottawa has signed agreements to support the development of multiple potential vaccines, therapeutics and personal protective equipment. The federal government will move immediately to develop national standards of care for seniors.

The prime minister also urged Canadians to do their part – to get their flu shots, wear a mask, download Canada's alert app and to continue to take steps to flatten the country's COVID-19 curve. While many Canadians will not be gathering with loved ones for Thanksgiving, "we still have a shot at Christmas," he said.

In his address, Trudeau reviewed some of the measures his government will pursue across four broad areas: protecting Canadians from COVID-19, supporting Canadians and businesses, building communities and the economy back better, and standing up for diversity.

Commitments include work on a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, moving out-of-work Canadians over to a "strengthened and broadened" employment insurance system and extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The address was significantly shorter than Payette's speech, which included more details on Ottawa's plans for managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country's economic recovery. It did not include any new announcements.

"I know you're worried," said New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh in a reaction to Trudeau's remarks. "I know that COVID-19 has exposed a lot of problems, but these aren't new problems. A lot of them existed before the pandemic."

"It's not good enough to just say the words. We need to see the actions," said Singh. 

Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O'Toole, who has tested positive for COVID-19, argued that the Canadian government hasn't done as much as it can to make coronavirus tests available to Canadians. 

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive, called for an immediate transfer of funds for health care to the provinces.

hwoodin@biv.com

@hayleywoodin

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