N.L. offers Ontario relief medical staff through COVID-19 third wave, premier says
Support will include medical personnel, not vaccines
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says he spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday about providing assistance to Ontario, as that province tackles its third wave of COVID-19.
"We have offered to the prime minister, as we did to Premier [Rob] Ford last week, any support Newfoundland and Labrador could give in terms of personnel, equipment, supplies. Within our own capacity, of course," Furey said Sunday on CBC's Rosemary Barton Live.
This afternoon, in response to rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across Ontario, I reached out to Premiers <a href="https://twitter.com/FureyAndrew?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FureyAndrew</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/dennyking?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DennyKing</a>, and <a href="https://twitter.com/IainTRankin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IainTRankin</a>. We spoke about how we can work together to help Ontarians get through this third wave. <a href="https://t.co/QtGHHW8Nh1">pic.twitter.com/QtGHHW8Nh1</a>—@JustinTrudeau
"Newfoundland and Labrador is a small province, but we recognize the significant impact this is having on Canadians living in Ontario. And we want to be able to help."
Ontario reported 4,250 new COVID-19 cases and 18 new deaths on Sunday, with more than 2,000 people in hospital, nearly 750 in intensive-care units with COVID-related illness and about 500 people on ventilators. Modelling predicts their caseloads will remain high throughout the summer.
Furey said sending a group of organized medical professionals to help in COVID-19 units and critica- care units would be "an incredible asset for the people of Ontario."
"And that's what we're trying to organize right now here on the ground."
Support won't include vaccine supply
However, when asked about Ford's management of the pandemic and criticism about not putting public health measures in place sooner, Furey didn't lay blame at Ford's feet.
"I don't see COVID-19 as recognizing any provincial barriers," Furey said.
"This is the benefit of the federation, when you can call on your neighbours to help in tough times. And Newfoundland and Labrador have always stepped up in tough times of crisis … and we intend to help here and now."
He said support from Newfoundland and Labrador would likely come in the form of relief for Ontario's medical personnel working through the pandemic.
But Furey said the province will not forgo its share of vaccine supply to meet demand in hot spots across the country because the provincial government is still operating under a per capita calculation.
"It's now a forest fire. You need firefighters. You don't need the fire prevention unit," Furey said of Ontario's COVID-19 case counts.
"Even if [they] had all the vaccine right now at this particular moment to take, there's a 10- to 14-day immunity uptake before you're able to have an impact."
Furey is also relying on his experience as a surgeon and the founder of Team Broken Earth, a medical non-profit that provided medical assistance to Haiti after a 2010 earthquake.
"I've seen how a small province can give back on an international stage. Sometimes it's the medical relief that comes in small packages that makes a big impact in local communities," he said.
"We'd love to be able to provide some personnel, even if it's in a relief capacity. I imagine [Ontario's] health-care professionals are working just tirelessly, which is one of the lessons we learned after the earthquake in Port au Prince."
Ford spoke publicly of Furey's outreach during Ontario's COVID-19 briefing on Friday, saying he hopes to visit the Atlantic provinces when the pandemic ends.
"A small place like Newfoundland, they wear their heart on their sleeves out there," Ford said Friday. "I'm so, so grateful. Very grateful. Andrew, thank you."
N.L. watching Monday budget release
Furey was also asked about Monday's upcoming federal budget, saying he will be watching for spending on child-care programs and green infrastructure.
"We have an ability to really be the green battery that can drive the East Coast of Canada. And we're interested to see where that goes," he said.
On child care, Furey is interested to see federal funding and partnerships, noting that he implemented $25-a-day daycare at regulated facilities in this province in his first six months in office.
"And I'm interested in moving that number down," he said.
Monday's budget will be the first budget released since 2019. The 2020 budget was not released last year due to the pandemic.
With files from Rosemary Barton Live