During his daily press briefing Sunday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is working to address issues facing Canadians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Trudeau stood in the rain at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa and began his address by wishing a happy holiday to Canadians celebrating Orthodox Easter, even though gatherings this year have to be virtual.
“We’re seeing the numbers trend in the right direction. So we need to keep doing what we’re doing, and be extremely careful,” Trudeau said. “And we will get through this together.”
He took a moment to acknowledge that the pandemic is impacting everyone, but it’s hitting some people particularly hard.
“If you live with a disability, I don’t have to tell you what that looks like,” Trudeau said, adding people with disabilities may worry their caregivers can no longer come or that they won’t be able to get groceries.
Minister of Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough is heading the COVID-19 disability advisory group. Trudeau said it’s part of his government’s plan to keep all Canadians healthy, informed, and safe.
“Your voice matters. Your experience is important. And our government is listening.”
Although Trudeau didn’t mention any specific new funding for Canadians with disabilities, he said the government is proud to partner with organizations such as the Rick Hansen Foundation that help dismantle barriers.
“If this crisis has laid bare the gaps that still exist for far too many Canadians, it has also given us an opportunity to address them,” Trudeau said. “It has encouraged us to have even more meaningful conversations about how to make our country a more inclusive and a more equitable place.”
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Pivoting to requests for support from the Canadian Armed Forces, Trudeau said he’s approved requests to extend support from military rangers in two First Nation communities in Quebec. Soldiers are also helping out at coronavirus-stricken long-term care homes in Montreal.
“I want to convey my condolences to all people who are mourning and grieving,” Trudeau said. “All Canadians share your sadness, and they are with you through this terrible ordeal.”
He added his thoughts are with elderly people in long-term care homes who can’t see their loved ones in person because of coronavirus-related restrictions.
The prime minister ended his prepared remarks by encouraging people to help out in-person or virtually as part of National Volunteer Week from April 19 to 25. The federal government has a portal listing COVID-19-related volunteer opportunities Canadians can sign up for.