Trudeau asks Atlantic premiers to help with Ontario COVID-19 outbreak
HALIFAX -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on the Premiers of Atlantic Canada to help Ontario fight their third wave of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 cases surge in Toronto, and field hospitals are set to open, staff from Atlantic Canada and the territories are being called on to help as Ontario fights its third wave
“We need ICU physicians, general internal medicine physicians, and nurses that can work in the ICU and emergency department,” says Dr. Lisa Salamon-Switzman of the Ontario Medical Association, adding that they also need respiratory therapists in addition to nurses and doctors.
In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said federal departments and some Canadian provinces are working to send health-care workers and equipment to help Ontario as it battles record-breaking COVID-19 numbers
Trudeau said he has reached out to Premiers of the Atlantic provinces, on how they can help Ontarians get through this third wave.
“Yesterday I spoke with Premier Furey from Newfoundland, Premier King from P.E.I. and Premier Rankin from Nova Scotia,” said Trudeau in the video.
His statement comes as hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units continue to reach record heights in Ontario, which reported over 4,200 new COVID-19 infections more than the last 24 hours.
“The Federal government will cover all costs and coordinate getting any extra staff from other provinces to the frontlines in Ontario, including providing air transportation,” added Trudeau.
“There wasn’t any specific ask, it was more about the situation in Ontario and if there was something we could do to help,” said Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin on Sunday. “The Prime Minister offered to help offset costs and transportation if we were prepared to send people or equipment, so we are looking into that.”
“Emergency physicians will regularly go up and do shifts in other parts of the country,” adds Kevin Chapman, Director of Doctors Nova Scotia.
While it is unclear exactly what resources could be reallocated from the Atlantic provinces, Rankin has made his position clear; vaccines committed to Nova Scotia will not be heading elsewhere.
“While Nova Scotia isn’t in a position to reallocate vaccines, I have asked our officials to consider what resources we are able to provide while continuing to keep Nova Scotian’s safe,” said Rankin. “We’re going to continue to look at the Department of Health and see what resources we could make available, but also watching our own epidemiology and talking with Dr. Strang to see what’s possible”.
A spokesperson from the Canadian Association for Retired Persons agrees with Rankin’s decision not to send vaccines.
“There are still seniors that need to be vaccinated in this part of the country,” says Bill VanGorder, Chief Policy Officer at CARP.
P.E.I.’s Premier said his government’s first priority is to protect the health and safety of Islanders, but he is asking health officials to take scan of current situation, and reach out to the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College to see if there are any recent medical graduates who could help the situation in Ontario.
Premier Dennis King also said he is looking at further strengthening P.E.I.’s “already strict border measures in the days ahead.”
Ottawa also called New Brunswick’s Premier Blaine Higgs, whose province is dealing with a COVID crisis of its own, including a lockdown in the Edmundston region.
“We will hear more about that in the next day or so, but it is being looked at,” says Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health.