Winnipeg mayor requests urgent military, health-care support from prime minister

WINNIPEG — In a Friday-morning meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Winnipeg’s mayor called for military and health-care support in Manitoba as ICUs continue to be stretched thin.

Trudeau had separate meetings with both Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister Friday morning.

In a news conference following the meeting, Bowman said he stressed to the prime minister Manitoba’s “urgent need” for federal support – including bringing in the Canadian Armed Forces and health-care workers from other provinces.

“The information we are learning about the situation in our intensive care units is gravely concerning,” Bowman said.

“For four days, Winnipeg’s ICUs have been so full that our provincial government has needed to transport patients outside the province to Ontario for help.”

CTV News previously confirmed three patients in intensive care infected with COVID-19 were transported to a Thunder Bay hospital in Ontario, with staff at the hospital expecting more Manitoba patients.

On Friday, Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said two more COVID-19 patients were transported to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Thursday evening. 

“For the federal government to act, however, any such requests must be made by our provincial government – that is why today I am urging our premier to ensure our community gets the urgent assistance from our federal government to shore up our ICU capacity now,” Bowman said.

“This isn’t the time to tinker with public health orders; we need strong proactive leadership, and we’ve needed it for some time.”

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Pallister said he discussed with the prime minister how the federal government could provide temporary urgent support for the health-care system.

“Health officials from both governments have been in discussions about providing additional human resources support in the form of critical care trained nurses and respiratory therapists,” Pallister said adding officials looked at getting more contact tracing support from Statistics Canada.

“The prime minister signalled his willingness to provide whatever additional support he could to meet these requests, for which I thanked him.”

Pallister said he also requested Trudeau ask U.S. President Joe Biden to allow excess U.S. vaccines to come to Canada immediately.

“The U.S. has millions of excess vaccines available right now that Canadians can use. I was pleased to hear the prime minister support the need for having the U.S. provide surplus vaccine doses to Canada now when they are needed most,” Pallister said.

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