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Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Ottawa primed to help Manitoba with surging COVID-19

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 @ 4:13 PM | By Terry Davidson

Canada’s government is gearing up to send a range of health supports to Manitoba to help the province fight a deadly third wave of COVID-19.

On May 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during an address to the nation that “a number of places are still facing a very serious third wave” and that he had spoken with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman about the province’s current struggle with surging case numbers and strained health-care services.  

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“I let them both know that the federal government is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Manitobans … safe,” said Trudeau. “As soon as the province asks for more assistance, we’re there to help. That’s why, in anticipation of Manitoba’s official request for additional support to manage the situation, we’re planning to deploy federal health human resources. We’re looking at deploying medical staff with the Canadian Red Cross and sending support from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).”

More specifically, Ottawa is preparing to send supports that include epidemiologists and lab technicians, as well as resources to help boost testing capacity and public health in that province, according to a federal government news release.

Manitoba officials reportedly made some form of request for help May 21.

The prairie province continues to sit in a critical response mode due to uncontained community spread and “significant strains” on the province’s health system, according to the Manitoba government website.  

On May 25, the province reported 259 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 49,046.

Regarding hospitalizations of the most serious cases, 79 patients were in intensive care units (ICU) as of that day, and as many as 18 have reportedly been transferred out to Ontario due to a shortage of beds.  

On May 24, four deaths were reported — two of them linked to the B.1.1.7 variant of concern.

Current total deaths sit at 1,035.

After Trudeau’s talk, Jim Carr, Ottawa’s special representative for the Prairies, called Manitoba’s situation “serious.”

“We are experiencing surges, more variants of concern and climbing ICU rates. Our health-care system is reaching its limit,” said Carr.

“Across our province, we are feeling frustrated. Sometimes, we even feel angry. We’re exhausted by this virus. We’ve endured our first, second and now third wave of lockdowns, business closures, active case counts and, most tragically, lives lost.”

Carr talked of Ottawa’s stepping in.

“In light of the current situation today, departments and agencies across the federal government have again come together to support the government of Manitoba and the people of our province.”

Bowman was recently critical of Manitoba’s government, accusing it of taking too long to take strong action.

Apropos of this, Trudeau was asked about the province’s preparedness for the third wave, given the spikes that were seen in other provinces.

“My job is a federal leader is to be there to support Canadians in every corner of the country, not to judge how provinces have managed it. It is simply to be there to put the interest of Canadians first — and that is what we’ll always do,” said Trudeau.

Carr added to this by saying that the federal government is “squarely focused on the needs of Manitobans.”

“And when the request comes from the provincial government, we have been there to respond — and to respond quickly,” he said.

Questions were also asked about delays and reported cancellations of the Moderna vaccine due to that company dealing with production problems.

To this, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said Moderna has “communicated to us that millions of doses are expected to be delivered in June, and that the first shipment will come in the first part of June.”

But Anand acknowledged the absence of a solid delivery schedule from the company.  

“The point I have repeatedly stressed to Moderna is the urgent need for a delivery schedule relating to June and July deliveries. But, rest assured, we will be receiving millions of doses from Moderna during the month of June. We are awaiting a delivery schedule from Moderna itself. Canada remains very much on track to receive vaccines.”

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