As many of us turned the page on 2021 looking towards a more promising 2022, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has put a damper in our plans. With Omicron becoming the dominant strain, the federal government leaped to action with new travel restrictions.
However, in contrast to similar policies made earlier in the pandemic, much of what was put forth lacked backing from our country’s scientific professionals – or at times, even basic common sense.
An expansion in rapid testing and the availability of the testing kits have long been advocated by medical professionals across the country to help prevent Covid-19 surges allowing for greater information and the ability to react.
Rapid tests are available across the world, yet for some reason, in Canada they’re incredibly hard to come by and in short supply. I want residents to know I share their frustrations. With the overwhelming of PCR testing capacity across the country, rapid tests have become even more important than ever. Yet we should have been using these tests all along; they’re not new.
It was back in 2020 that I started advocating about using all the COVID-19 tools available, including rapid tests, which were recommended by health experts from within Canada and around the world. Two years into the pandemic, we have to ensure we are utilizing all the COVID-19 tools to keep people safe while ensuring people’s lives can get back to normal.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced it will send 140 million rapid tests to the provinces. To put that in perspective, the U.K. recommended daily at home testing due to Omicron. This announced Canadian supply means just four days of daily testing for every Canadian.
This week my party called upon the federal government, on an emergency basis, to immediately: Increase transfers to the provinces to increase healthcare surge resources; find innovative ways to boost surge capacity across the country such as emergency credentialing of foreign-trained health professionals; provide support to the provinces to increase testing capacity (including the deployment of rapid tests to schools, businesses, gyms, and public recreation centres); ensure game-changing therapeutics are rapidly but effectively reviewed, obtained and distributed to hospitals; procure and distribute n95 masks to all Canadians; support provinces in getting booster shots to Canadians; and bolster efforts to provide vaccines to countries that have limited supply.
However, we can’t look at Canada’s COVID response in a silo. Healthcare experts have stated the rise of variants like Omicron is directly related to the lack of vaccines provided in developing countries. Canada took COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX initiative, which supplies vaccines to middle and low-income countries.
I believe the current wave of lockdowns was avoidable.
I wish you and your family a safe and healthy 2022. I look forward to hearing from you.
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This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.