Indigenous financial aid and U.S. relations addressed by PM Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, April 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

For today’s national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed several topics and issues of interest for Canadians. Here is a breakdown of what was said during the address.

New Indigenous financial aid

The federal government has announced that they are planning to spend $650 million in additional aid for Indigenous communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This announcement comes after leaders of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis groups said that the initial aid amount was insufficient.

Trudeau has gone on to say that $285 million of the announced aid increase will be to support public health responses in Indigenous communities when an outbreak of the virus occurs.

“These funds will go toward more nurses, will help procure specialized supplies and will support work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities on continued community-driven responses”.

The new aid announcement has been met with applause, with figures like the National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations saying his pleas were met by posting about the announcement through Twitter.

“A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with the Prime Minister about the need to invest in women, girls, and those who need support. Today, Minister Marc Miller and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the necessary commitments to help ensure no one is left behind,” Bellegarde said in his tweet.

When addressing the new aid announcement, Minister Miller went on to say that the threat of a second COVID-19 wave is real and that despite the first wave beginning to recede, Indigenous communities will remain to be one of the more vulnerable groups because of health and social issues that have been present for years.

U.S. border crossing

Trudeau has said that the federal government is currently looking into possible adjustments for the current Canada-U.S. border restrictions so that immediate family can return and reunite with their relatives.

“We have been looking at ways of perhaps allowing close family members, children, spouses, or parents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to be able to reunite under strict conditions through a slight modification of the directives for the Canadian Border Services Agency,” Trudeau said.

He then went on to state that immediate family crossing the border would require a change in the agreement made with the United States.

Trudeau discussed this with the provincial premiers during his call with them on Thursday night, with the response being mixed.

“There are several premiers who feel that for reasons of compassion, we should and could move forward with this measure. Others expressed a certain amount of concern about it. We will continue to engage with them”.

Acknowledging the Minneapolis riots

At the end of his address, Trudeau acknowledged the riots and protests occurring in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being arrested by the police.

Floyd, who was arrested for an alleged forgery, was held down by a police officer who pinned his neck down using his knee which was captured on video. Floyd would later allegedly die in police custody, igniting the protests occurring in Minneapolis and other major American cities.

Trudeau addressed these protests and the police brutality occurring to African-Americans, calling this a problem happening in Canada as well.

“Many Canadians of diverse backgrounds are watching like all Canadians are, the news out in the United States, with shock and horror. Anti-black racism, racism is real. It’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,” Trudeau said.

“We have work to do as well in Canada in our systems that we need to work forward and I call on all Canadians, whether it’s anti-black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism and discrimination of any time, to stand together in solidarity”.

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