Ford declines help from Trudeau, Red Cross: ‘We have a supply issue’

By Lucas Casaletto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is prepared to deploy the Canadian Red Cross to help Ontario with their mobile vaccination teams and send aid to hospitals and long-term care homes; something the Premier says isn’t needed at the moment.

Speaking on Friday, Trudeau said “we are extremely preoccupied with the situation in Ontario right now,” announcing that help is available to Ontario should they need it.

The Ford government quickly responded to Trudeau’s proposal, saying the province has a supply issue and not a capacity issue.

“While we appreciate the Prime Minister’s offer unless it is matched with an increase in supply, we do not need the Red Cross at this time for the administration of vaccines in Ontario,” said Doug Ford’s office in a statement.

“We do not have a capacity issue, we have a supply issue.”

As Ontario reports record-high COVID cases, Trudeau said the federal government will provide more relief to the province, including deploying mobile health units in Toronto and Hamilton.

Health-care equipment including oxygen units and drugs to treat COVID will also be sent, the Prime Minister said.

This comes as Ontario pleads with other provinces to send nurses and other health workers as it buckles under surging COVID-19 infections.

In a letter to all provinces and territories, the Ford government notes it is short thousands of nurses.

Ontario was expected to be short 4,145 nurses in the hospital sector alone over the next four months, deputy minister of health Helen Angus said, while asking her counterparts for 620 health professionals, including nurses and respiratory therapists.

“We are projecting a need for this critical support for four months following the anticipated peak of the third wave,” Angus wrote.

Angus also asks whether her counterparts have any resources to spare.

Her letter says the pandemic has strained hospital capacity, particularly intensive care.

“Specifically, the province would need assistance in southern Ontario, anticipated to be in the Greater Toronto Area and immediate surrounding areas,” Angus writes.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said the province was happy to provide personnel, expertise and extra equipment “where capacity allows.”

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Trudeau, meanwhile, says it’s clear Canada’s most populous city is struggling through the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau noted that case numbers in Toronto continue to break records, and I-C-U beds are filling up.

“On vaccination in particular, Ontario has reached out for more support,” said Trudeau. “… This is about getting doses to people where the situation is the most serious.”

That announcement comes after word that Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will be slashed in half through the rest of April.

Moderna said the limited supply is due to a “slower than anticipated ramp-up” of its production capacity.

With files from the Canadian Press

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