In the midst of a deteriorating Covid-19 surge, Canada has sent its military to Ontario, causing the province’s positivity levels to reach an all-time high.
As ICU admissions reached new highs on Monday, the government approved Ontario’s request for medical and other assistance.
“We have approved a request for assistance from Ontario to provide support to their provincial healthcare system against COVID19,” Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said on Twitter. “@CanadianForces will provide medical + civilian human health resources within medical care facilities in ON, as well as logistical and admin. support.”
The province released new stay-at-home orders earlier this month, which sparked outrage. On April 16, the government announced that it will increase compliance and punishments for those who do not follow orders.
In a statement released late Monday, Canada stated that it will send federal health human resources, provide assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and pay for the redeployment of the Canadian Red Cross to support and relieve workers in medical care facilities.
“The CAF is preparing to deploy up to three multi-purpose medical assistance teams (MMATs), which are scalable healthcare provider teams primarily composed of Nursing Officers and Medical Technicians as well as additional CAF members for general duty support as applicable,” the statement said. “The MMATs will be rotated in and out of the province rather than deployed simultaneously to ensure that CAF support is sustainable.”
Hundreds of hospitals in Ontario are now using surge capability, including a few field hospitals that are admitting patients with Covid-19 who do not need intensive care or who have stabilized enough to be moved to the field facilities.
In the last 24 hours, Ontario’s positivity levels reached 10.9 percent, a pandemic peak, according to public health officials.
The province also reported a shortage of vaccines, which parallels the situation across much of Canada as the country’s vaccine rollout begins in May.
More doses, on the other hand, will not be collected or delivered in time to prevent what are now record hospitalizations in Ontario and British Columbia, with a large rise in Alberta admissions in the last two weeks.
“We are in somewhat of a vaccine valley,” said John Tory, Toronto’s mayor during a press briefing Monday, adding, “In short, we have significant vaccine capacity which will not be able to be fully utilized because available supply does not allow for it.”
On Monday, the Ontario legislature in Toronto and Canada’s parliament in Ottawa held a moment of silence for a 13-year-old Ontario girl who died at home, one of Covid-19’s youngest victims.
“The variants of concern, and the ones we’re dealing with now, do have a predilection, more and more for the younger age groups. And what I was hoping not to happen, did happen, and I’m concerned that it could happen some more in some cases, said Dr David Williams, the chief medical officer for Ontario. We have to be careful; families have to be careful.”