Justin Trudeau says anger over long-term care home situation is justified, says country must do more to protect the elderly

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At an April 23 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that situation unfolding in long-term care homes is horrific and that the country must ask "tough questions" about how this happened and how Canada let down its "greatest generation." 

The comments come just days after public health experts revealed that the majority of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care homes. Earlier this week, public health officials in Ontario revealed that while community transmission appears to have peaked in the province, the peak has not yet been reached in long-term care homes and other congregate settings.

At the press conference, Trudeau confirmed that the federal government is sending members of the Canadian Armed Forces to help out in long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec. 

"If you're angry, frustrated or scared, you're right to feel this way. We're failing our parents, grandparents and elders—the greatest generation who built this country. The men and women in uniform will step up with the valour and courage they have always shown. We'll help provinces get control of this situation, but this isn't a long-term situation," Trudeau said. 

"In Canada, our soldiers should not be the ones looking after our seniors. In the weeks and months to come, we'll all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this and do more to get through this terrible situation." 

At the press conference, Trudeau also said the government is investing $1.1 billion in a national medical and research strategy fight to COVID-19. 

The government will invest $115 million in vaccine and treatment research and $662 million in clinical trials to test said treatments and vaccines. The government will also spend $350 million to expand national testing and modelling and create an immunity task force. 

Reiterating that life cannot fully return to normal until a vaccine or successful treatment is developed, Trudeau said Canada will be able to lift "a number of restrictions" when it's able to do more testing, tracing and tracking.

Trudeau said Canada is testing about 20,000 people a day and will work to test more.

The prime minister indicated that individual provinces will ease restrictions at a pace that works for them in consultation with the federal government.

"We're attempting to coordinate so we're working from a similar set of guidelines and principles," Trudeau said.  

When asked about what a new normal could look like, Trudeau said the process around reopening will depend on advice from scientists and public health experts. 

He also mentioned that there have been more discussions around treatments, adding that the world has been waiting decades for a vaccine for AIDS that has never come.

"A vaccine arriving soon is the best solution, but we need to explore all different ways to ensure that quality of life and safety and protection is upheld in the best way possible going forward," he said. 

When asked if he's worried that the (possibly premature) easing of restrictions in some U.S. states could put Canada at risk, Trudeau said that the border will remain protected and that Canada will look at what did—and did not—work when easing physical distancing restrictions at home.

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