Justin Trudeau says Ottawa will do all it can to help provinces and territories cope with the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as infections fuelled by the Omicron variant threaten to overwhelm health systems.
The prime minister spoke with provincial and territorial leaders yesterday, and a statement issued by his office says he assured them that there are enough vaccine doses available for all eligible Canadians to receive third booster shots.
The federal government has said provinces and territories will receive a combined 140 million rapid tests this month, although the statement did not provide any new details on when the deliveries will be scheduled.
The statement says Trudeau also emphasized the need to promote support programs, such as the federal wage subsidy, to help people and businesses survive the latest lockdowns and public health restrictions.
The call with the First Ministers came as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to surge throughout Canada.
Quebec reported an all-time high of 2,554 patients, 248 of whom are in intensive care, while Ontario confirmed 2,467 hospitalizations and 438 patients in the ICU.
The provinces also recorded a combined total of 20,279 new COVID cases, although the true number is likely much higher due to a lack of access to testing.
The rampant spread of the Omicron variant has stoked alarm south of the border, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a fresh Level 4 "avoid travel'' advisory for Canada, citing a "very high'' level of COVID-19 in the country. It urged anyone who must go to be fully vaccinated.
That quickly prompted the State Department to revise its travel advisory, which had been at Level 3, "reconsider travel,'' to upgrade its advice to Level 4: "Do not travel to Canada due to COVID-19.''
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022.
The Canadian Press