If province wants more cash for COVID-19 contact tracing, Trudeau says it only has to ask

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says all a province has to do is ask if it wants more money for COVID-19 contact tracing,

“We’ve made available federal employees that only are waiting for an ask from the provincial governments to come in and actually do more contact tracing,” Trudeau told Winnipeg radio station 680 CJOB on Wednesday. 

Ottawa pledged a $19-billion package, announced in the summer, to support contact tracing and testing efforts, personal protective equipment and more child-care spaces.

Manitoba is eligible for nearly $109 million of those funds, after telling the federal government it was planning to increase daily testing capacity to more than 3,000 tests per day.

The province hit its goal for the first time last week, but has come up short more often than not — while Manitoba breaks records for the number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in a day. 

“Unfortunately, not every province has hit their agreed-to targets that they committed to, in terms of tests per day,” Trudeau told the radio station.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the province went out and found a firm to help with contact tracing because it needed the help. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province appreciates the federal support, but it hasn’t come quickly enough.

That’s why the province sought a private firm to help with contact tracing, Friesen said, explaining the government is close to signing an agreement with the winning proponent.

“We need all that capacity that we can get,” he said.

“Right now, what we’re saying is what can we have? What is the federal government able to provide that can come online to support the same efforts as we right now have. We’re happy to add whatever resources that they can make available.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said Tuesday that climbing case counts and growing community transmission have strained contact tracing resources.

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