Trudeau address problems in long-term care, race riots in the U.S.

 

At a May 29 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the federal government is prepared to provide short-, medium- and long-term support to provinces struggling to reform their long-term care systems in the wake of (and beyond) the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The federal government first pledged to get involved in long-term care (a file that typically falls under provincial jurisdiction) after the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) released a damning report on conditions in at least five homes in Ontario. According to the report, military members witnessed negligence, abuse, insect infestations, worker burnout, and poor infection control processes.

Members of the armed forces were called to help out in hard-hit long-term care homes (the source of most COVID-19 deaths in Canada) in Ontario and Quebec in April. 

When asked about specific supports, Trudeau said that the federal government will help provinces out in the immediate term by keeping members of the military in struggling homes for the time being. Adding that the federal government's immediate concern is helping provinces regain control of their long-term care systems, Trudeau said that the government is prepared to help out in the medium- and long-term by providing funding and any other necessary resources. 

Emphasizing that the long-term care situation isn't static across Canada, the prime minister said the government will provide targeted support to provinces based on their unique needs. 

"This is a provincial area of jurisdiction, but some provinces losing control means we need to support them as they regain control. One size fits all from the federal government is not the way through this," Trudeau said.

"There's a need for real conversations between Canadians about how to properly support seniors who built this country with their hard work who deserve a secure and dignified retirement. We'll be there for conversations in immediate and long-term, but we're still working with getting people the support they need during the crisis." 

Trudeau also said he and the premiers discussed how the federal government and provinces can work together to provide Canadians workers with 10 paid sick days. 

"We had a good discussion and there are a variety of opinions from the premiers," he said, adding that some are concerned about forcing businesses to carry more costs during a difficult time.

Trudeau said he reassured the premiers that the federal government would be assuming the responsibility for "most of the support" in a bid to keep sick people from going to work while ill. 

"We know that in the fall, people may want to hide the fact that they're sneezing or coughing and go into work to support their families, and that's not good for them, their work, or Canadian society. We have to avoid a situation where people have to decide between their health or going into work." 

At the press conference, Trudeau also said the federal government will provide an additional $650 million for Indigenous communities to help them through the pandemic.

The prime minister also said that large cruise ships will not be allowed in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31. 

The prime minister also announced that the government is considering making a small change to the policy restricting non-essential travel across the Canada and U.S. border to allow for family reunification.

"We've taken unprecedented measures to prevent non-essential travel, but there have been a number of stories in the news about families separated because of citizenship," he said, adding that the government is looking at ways to help close family members reunite under strict conditions through a slight modification of directives. 

He said the border will still remain closed to leisure travel until at least the end of June. 

Trudeau ended the conference by addressing the heated (and sometimes violent) protests unfolding in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white police officer pinned him down by placing his knee on his neck and suffocating him. 

Protestors are demanding that criminal charges be laid. 

"I want to take a moment to say to Canadians who are seeing with horror what is happening in the US, that even though this is taking place in the US, Canada is not free of discrimination and racism and we have to do better," he said.

"Whether it is anti-Black or anti-Asian racism or systemic discrimination, we have work to do here in Canada. We have to work together and show compassion and respect. Understanding the realities of various people can be a challenge, but I know Canadians will stand together."

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