Trudeau, premiers discuss rapid test deliveries, military support in virtual meeting

January 11, 2022
Applications for Canada's expanded lockdown support not open until 2022


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s premiers spoke Monday afternoon about the federal government’s plan to distribute rapid tests and the possibility of additional military support for struggling health care systems.

Leaders who took part in the call described a productive meeting — although it produced little in the way of new information or firm commitments to help provinces battling the Omicron surge.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he was assured by Trudeau that Ottawa will make good on its plan to distribute 140 million rapid COVID-19 tests to the provinces and territories this month.

“The availability is clear but the delivery schedule has yet to be laid out,” Higgs told CBC’s Power & Politics. “But [there is] certainly every indication that we will have an adequate supply.”

You can watch Higgs’ full interview at the top of this page

Higgs also responded to federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’ prediction last week that provinces will at some point have to make vaccination mandatory for all residents.

“I think it’s something that will get further discussion in New Brunswick and probably across the country,” Higgs said.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have rejected the idea of making vaccination mandatory. It does not appear that the issue was discussed during the call.

Ottawa considering multiple requests for help

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said Trudeau told the premiers that his government is processing multiple requests for assistance, including requests for military support.

WATCH | Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey on Monday’s call with Trudeau

Premier Furey says call between prime minister and premiers was ‘very helpful’

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey joins Power & Politics to discuss the call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers. 6:55

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been deployed in Quebec to assist vaccination programs and to the Bearskin Lake First Nation in Ontario to help that community grapple with a widespread outbreak.

Furey said the federal government is “triaging” requests for additional help. Federal officials, including Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, have pledged support while noting that Ottawa has a finite amount of resources at its disposal.

“Those are decisions the federal government has to make and I don’t envy them for having to make those,” Furey told Power & Politics.

“It was a very helpful call to know that the prime minister and his cabinet and government are there to support the provinces. There is no easy solution here.”

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