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Feds will fund COVID-19 testing and tracing, Trudeau promises

Last Updated May 22, 2020 at 8:44 am PST

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Thursday, May 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds to fund provinces' efforts to test people for COVID-19

Contact tracing efforts will also be funded by the government, the prime minister said Friday

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will fund provinces’ efforts to test people for COVID-19, track the contacts of those who test positive, and help different jurisdictions share data.

Trudeau says it will be key to test and trace those who have been in contact with people who have tested positive, in order to contain the virus, adding the measures are essential because COVID-19 remains a serious health threat.

He adds the economy can’t fully recover until Canadians are confident that the novel coronavirus will be contained anywhere new it breaks out.

Trudeau says he made it clear in a phone call with the premiers that this is an urgent priority for the country.

“And I’ve told the premiers that the federal government is here to support, facilitate, and fund this important work.”

This comes amid serious concerns about the lack of testing in parts of Canada, even in some of the hardest-hit regions.

On top of the federal government footing the bill, the prime minister says thousands of federal workers stand ready to help provinces with contact tracing.

“Our government has trained federal employees who can make 3,600 contract tracing calls a day, seven days a week,” Trudeau explains. “Statistics Canada has also an additional 1,700 interviewers ready to go who can make up to 20,000 calls a day.”

So far only Ontario has taken Ottawa up on this offer. Quebec has not, despite being a hotbed of infections.

Trudeau has also announcing a new online tool on the government website to help Canadians connect with the benefits and supports available to them.

“You’ll find a list of a few simple questions and the tool will generate an array of programs for which you may be eligible.”