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Opinion: We have the power to get this second wave under control

A message from Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre
MP Paul Lefebvre
Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre. (File photo)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unparalleled test to Canadians, bringing sweeping change to every facet of our lives.  From public health measures keeping us from our loved ones to widespread business closures and layoffs threatening our livelihoods, the last six months have shown just how important it is to come together to support each other during these trying times.

It’s now clear that the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt for generations, and that we can no longer walk the same road we first mapped out less than a year ago. In order to rebuild a stronger Canada and ensure the safety of Canadians, we must look to the future and take bold action.

Last week, at the Speech from the Throne, the Governor General revealed the four foundations of our government’s plan to build back better together. The first foundation of this plan is to fight the pandemic and save lives, by doing everything we can to protect Canadians’ health.

Canadians have seen their federal government respond quickly and effectively. 

Early in the spring, we allocated $4.2 billion to the provinces and territories to increase testing and contact tracing. 

By June, our government had ordered 121.9 million of the coveted N95 respirators and 340.8 million surgical masks, as well as 55.7 million face shields, one billion pairs of surgical gloves, 126.6 million gowns, and 20.4 million litres of hand sanitizer. 

Also in June, our government approached the provinces with an offer of financial support for cities and hospitals, for child care and PPE and other pandemic essentials. The resulting Safe Restart Agreement was an unprecedented $19 billion transfer directly to provinces, followed in August by another $2 billion transfer to safely reopen schools across Canada.

Since then, we have been working closely with industry and provinces to increase manufacturing capacity of Canada and ensure that this PPE is delivered where it is needed, when it is needed.

Looking forward, our priority is to look out for all Canadians and leave no person behind. We have secured access to several leading vaccine candidates and therapeutics from around the world, while investing in manufacturing and distributing solutions here at home. From the Vaccine Task Force, to the Immunity Task Force, Canada’s top scientific minds are guiding the Government every step of the way.

We also know that new tools are needed to fight COVID-19. We are working around the clock on the approval and procurement of new testing technologies, so Canadians have access to better and faster testing no matter where they live. 

We’ve approved 36 tests to date, including two that are point-of-care, to help with rapid testing in specific populations like rural and remote communities. 

To date, we have not received any home test kits for review. But we are actively engaging with companies that produce these types of tests to encourage them to apply here in Canada. And when they apply, we will be ready. Health Canada has added more people and faster processes to review tests and grant decisions quickly.

More immediately, though, I remind Sudburians that we all have the power to get this second wave under control, but we all have to do our parts. Canadians need to know that they can rely on their governments, just as they can rely on each other.

We will keep investing and continue to have your backs, whatever it takes, to help you get through this crisis.

Paul Lefebvre is the MP for Sudbury and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.