VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Every provincial and territorial premier in Canada is about to get a call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the worsening COVID-19 situation in many parts of the country.
Trudeau says he speak to all premiers by Wednesday about their efforts to protect and support Canadians from the new variants and rising case counts.
He says most provinces have made it clear they don’t need Ottawa’s help when it comes to getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of Canadians, but he adds the federal government will be there if needed. He says political leaders are just as exhausted as Canadian families, business owners and frontline workers, which he believes is why some premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, have been critical of the vaccine rollout in Canada.
Trudeau says when he speaks with Ford later Tuesday, he hopes to determine how the federal government can assist Ontario with the third wave of COVID-19 now sweeping the province.
Ontario is once again reporting around 3,000 new cases of the virus. There have been eight more deaths.
Quebec has recorded 1,168 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The provincial Health Department says hospitalizations rose by 11 to reach 514, with 121 patients in intensive care, a drop of two. That province has reported 318,532 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10,701 deaths since the pandemic began.
On Monday, B.C. reported nearly 1,900 new infections in the previous two days and 23 deaths in the previous four.
Related article: Vaccines are helping but won’t solve the pandemic on their own, federal doctors warn
Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19, and a total of 36 active cases.
New Brunswick is reporting three new cases of COVID-19, with one each in the Saint John, Fredericton, and Edmundston regions. There are 162 active reported cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and 18 patients are hospitalized with the disease, including 12 in intensive care.
Prince Edward Island is reporting no new cases.
Canada’s top doctor worries about interprovincial travel
Canada’s chief public health officer is advising Canadians to avoid interprovincial travel amid concerns COVID-19 vaccines might not be fully effective against new variants of the disease.
Dr. Theresa Tam says she is concerned about people travelling as tourists and gathering for leisure activities.
With new variants of concern now being identified in provinces such as B.C., Ontario, and Alberta, there is concern Canadians could further spread these strains of the virus across the country.
Tam says some laboratory tests show the P1 variant, in particular, might elude a person’s immunity response. This means people who have been vaccinated or who have contracted COVID-19 could still get sick or re-infected by the virus.
Meanwhile, Trudeau says the federal government is delivering the final instalment from billions of dollars announced last summer to help provinces and territories through the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says the federal funding has been used to bolster the capacity of Canada’s health-care systems, secure personal protective equipment for essential workers and protect the most vulnerable. It has also helped support child-care needs during the pandemic and keep municipalities and public transit operating.
Trudeau now says $700 million, the final instalment from the Safe Restart Agreement, will help provinces and territories with efforts including testing and contact tracing.
Related article: Trudeau offers provinces help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to do more to help provinces get vaccinations into the arms of essential workers. He says a priority should be workers who cannot stay home and toil in industries where the virus is known to be spreading.
He says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can help by offering assistance from the military and pushing for paid sick leave. Singh says he won’t accept the excuse that administering vaccinations is a provincial responsibility.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is pressing the government to ask the auditor general to appoint a “special monitor” to track the federal pandemic response as it happens to glean lessons promptly. O’Toole also says a Conservative government would call a public inquiry to study the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says the federal Liberals “dropped the ball” on vaccines and Canadians need to know what worked and what didn’t.