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Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Ottawa sending military medical personnel to Ontario, Nova Scotia to help with health crisis

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 @ 4:30 PM | By Terry Davidson

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 @ 6:28 PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending military medical personnel to help with surging numbers of COVID-19 in Ontario but is passing on the province’s offer to boost the federal government’s sick leave benefit.

In an April 27 address to the nation, Trudeau said his government is “deploying federal health-care workers to the province.”

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“This mobilization includes three medical assistance teams and nine critical care nurses from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF),” said Trudeau. “Yesterday, the [CAF] carried out their assessment of the needs on the ground in Ontario and finalized the details of this operation.”

The CAF is also being sent into Nova Scotia to deal with record numbers of new COVID-19 cases in that province — particularly in the Halifax area.  

“Numbers have risen quickly, and the province requested help, so … we’re deploying 60 CAF members to testing centres in Nova Scotia.”

According to an April 27 news release, Nova Scotia’s government is enacting a two-week, provincewide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus in the province. That day, the government reported 96 new cases of COVID-19.

Trudeau also said Ottawa is “standing ready” if Alberta requests similar assistance after a state of emergency was declared in the municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray.  

“Our government has reached out to Alberta on what support they may need to keep people safe and get the situation back under control.”

Later, federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair said the Red Cross is also ready to deploy “an initial group” of intensive care nurses to Ontario, as well as other resources.

During questions from the press, Trudeau was asked about Ontario’s government requesting that Ottawa double its Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (CSRB) from $500 to $1,000 per employee, with the province covering the cost of the increase.

Premier Doug Ford has been under pressure as of late to create Ontario’s own sick leave program.

Trudeau said it was up to Ontario to work with employers of essential service workers to deliver sick leave pay as the province battles rising cases.

“As we’ve said, we are there to help Canadians. We have people’s backs. We need to work together, and provinces need to look at a way to deliver sick leave through employers, which the federal government can’t do.”

The prime minister was also asked about whether Canada would mandate COVID-19 vaccination certificates for travel, given emerging reports that the European Union will allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit.

Trudeau said vaccination certificates “are naturally to be expected” in the current climate.

“Obviously, as with the case pre-pandemic, certificates of vaccination are a part of international travel to certain regions and are naturally to be expected when it comes to this pandemic. … How we … roll that out in alignment with partners and allies around the world is something we’re working on right now to co-ordinate. I can assure you our decisions will be based on science and the fact that those … discussions are ongoing right now means that we will be aligned with our partners around the world.”

Canada closed its borders to non-essential travel in efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Editor’s note: Headline has been corrected to reflect that Ottawa is sending military medical personnel.

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