Federal government’s COVID-19 support is not ‘infinite,’ PM warns premiers

Federal government's COVID-19 support is not 'infinite,' PM warns premiers-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a minister speak during a news conference in Ottawa on November 10, 2020. (/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he has warned the premiers that “impossible” choices will have to be made if they don’t lower their COVID-19 caseloads soon.

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His comments follow a Thursday evening call between the prime minister and the premiers.

“One of the things that I did highlight is that our resources are not infinite at the federal government, whether it comes to support on contact tracing, extra support on [personal protective equipment], support through the military or the Red Cross. We are there to support the provinces as they handle this pandemic,” Trudeau told his regular pandemic media briefing earlier today in Ottawa.

“But there is a threshold beyond which when the cases spike too much, we might have to make really difficult choices about where to deploy the limited resources we have.”

Trudeau insisted the federal government is not at the point of making those “difficult choices” yet.

“Controlling the virus now reduces the impossible decisions and choices we might have to make down the road,” he said.

“Hospitals start to get overwhelmed in various parts of the country as resources start to grow thin, as people are giving up on contact tracing. The federal government can add more but not an unlimited amount.

“That’s why we all have to make sure we do not get to the kinds of spikes that are being projected, that with the approach of winter we all realize we’ve got to get this back under control and everyone needs to do their part.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at the same briefing that new modelling suggests the country is on track to record 10,000 new cases per day by early December.

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“We are obviously working hard at vaccine preparations but that’s going to take time, so we need everybody to make an effort,” Tam said.

“From where I’m sitting, anywhere outside of the Atlantic bubble, the Atlantic jurisdictions and the territories, fires are burning in so many different areas. Right now is the time to get those under control.”

Tam added that unless measures are taken now and the curve is flattened, the pandemic will affect Christmas gatherings.

“Right now, its not looking good. People have to like, really take everything seriously,” Tam said, singling out the Prairie provinces as a region that has a lot of work to do.

Friday’s warning follows Trudeau’s sobering comments on Tuesday, when he urged the provinces and territories to “do the right thing” and impose restrictions to counter the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

That warning didn’t play well with all the premiers.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said it was “extremely unhelpful” for the prime minister to frame the issue as a “false choice” between protecting Canadians’ health and protecting the economy.


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