Throughout the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic response, the Government of Canada has been providing significant support to provinces and territories.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair, confirmed that the Government of Canada has approved an extension to a Request for Federal Assistance from the Province of Ontario to manage the COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes.
As a result of this extension, the Canadian Red Cross will continue to support long-term care and retirement homes upon request from the Ontario government until November 30, 2021, with the option to extend by an additional two months until January 2022.
The Red Cross deployment is funded by Public Safety’s new Humanitarian Workforce Program, which was set up in Summer 2021, following the 2020 Fall Economic Statement. In the Fall Economic Statement, the government announced its intention to provide additional $150 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to support the Canadian Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations in building and maintaining a humanitarian workforce to provide surge capacity in response to COVID-19 outbreaks and other large-scale emergencies.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government Operations Centre has administered more than 130 Requests For Federal Assistance (RFAs), of which 40 were COVID-19 specific RFAs (including extensions) from the Province of Ontario. These requests have been administered in collaboration with federal organizations such as the Department of National Defence, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as with non-governmental partners, such as the Canadian Red Cross.
“The Government of Canada always stands ready to help all provinces and territories when support is needed. We are pleased to be able to continue providing assistance to long-term care homes in Ontario in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to thank all responding partners at all levels of government, including the Canadian Armed Forces, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, as well as partners such as the Canadian Red Cross, for their commitment to caring for Canadians, especially our most vulnerable.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Since the start of the pandemic, the Canadian Red Cross has provided 820 personnel to Ontario, including a total of 32 who are actively engaged in the province as of October 12.
Since October 2020, the Canadian Red Cross has supported 57 long-term care and retirements homes with Epidemic Prevention Control and/or Support Aides in Ontario.
At one point over the past year, the Canadian Red Cross had more than 300 personnel concurrently active in the field providing support to long-term care and retirement homes in Ontario.
From April to July 2020, the Canadian Armed Forces provided approximately 275 personnel cumulatively in seven long-term care facilities across Ontario.
Two federal Mobile Health Units were deployed to Ontario.
Since July 2021, Statistics Canada has been supporting Ontario with contact tracing calls. Statistics Canada is currently making approximately 2,870 calls per day for the province.
Since January 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Microbiology Laboratory has supported Ontario with COVID-19 test processing at their laboratory facility in Winnipeg. To date, over 21,000 COVID tests have been processed for the province.
Ontario has received approximately $78.9M in funding for 13 recipients to establish safe voluntary isolation sites across the province: Toronto Public Health, Region of Peel Public Health, Ottawa Public Health, Region of Waterloo Public Health & Emergency Services, District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Government of Ontario), City of Windsor, St. Joseph’s Care Group (Thunder Bay), Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board, County of Hastings, Kenora District Services Board, and City of Hamilton.
Federal departments have deployed public health officers such as epidemiologists and infection prevention control specialists to provide expertise on outbreak management. As well, federal departments deploy health human resources (e.g., nurses, screening officers) to support the province based on needs and availability of deployable personnel.
Since January 2021, 59 personnel, including Screening Officers, Quarantine Officers, and Operational Support staff, have supported airport testing in the province.
Since January 2021, five epidemiologists and one infection prevention and control specialist have provided outbreak management support to the province, while three nurses have provided clinical support.
The Government Operations Centre is responsible for coordinating the Government of Canada’s response to emergency events including the pandemic. It supports the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is the federal government lead for the response to COVID-19.
In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the municipal level and if they need assistance, they request it from their province or territory. If the emergency escalates further, provinces or territories can get help from the federal government.
Should a province or territory make an official Request for Federal Assistance, there is a well-established process in place for managing the request, through the Government Operations Centre, and includes provincial/territorial and interdepartmental consultation and coordination.