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Ontario government asks other provinces, territories to send nurses as COVID-19 cases surge

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WATCH ABOVE (April 15): Ontario has surpassed 400,000 total cases while the province has once again broken a daily record for case counts set four days prior. The situation is expected to worsen and experts say we can turn our fortunes around as long as the right measures are put in place quickly. Matthew Bingley reports. – Apr 15, 2021

TORONTO – Ontario is pleading with other provinces to send nurses and other health workers as it buckles under surging COVID-19 infections.

In a letter to all provinces and territories, the Ontario government notes it is short thousands of nurses.

Read more: Ford says province does not need Red Cross help after Trudeau offers help with mobile vaccine teams

The deputy minister of health, Helen Angus, also asks whether her counterparts have any resources to spare.

Her letter says the pandemic has strained hospital capacity, particularly intensive care.

Angus estimates Ontario will be short 4,145 nurses in the hospital sector alone over the next four months.

Read more: Ontario to announce new restrictions Friday to curb surging COVID-19 rates

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The letter asks for another 620 health professionals, including nurses and respiratory therapists.

“Specifically, the province would need assistance in southern Ontario, anticipated to be in the Greater Toronto Area and immediate surrounding areas,” Angus writes. “We are projecting a need for this critical support for four months following the anticipated peak of the third wave.”

However, spokesperson for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said they are unable to provide help due to rising cases in their province.

“… With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on a sharp rise here in Alberta, we are simply not in a position to send our health care workers outside the province at this time. Our priority must be and will be the health and safety of Albertans, and that means making sure our hospitals are adequately staffed to treat COVID-19 patients,” said press secretary Jerrica Goodwin.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe followed suit, saying the province cannot afford to part with any of its healthcare workers, either.

“Right now, and this was conveyed, our Saskatchewan healthcare workers are quite busy here at the moment … So we just don’t have the capacity to start even talking about loaning our healthcare workers out for a period of time to other provinces. They’re quite busy, and putting … the priority of Saskatchewan residents first and foremost,” Moe said.
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With files from Global News Jessica Patton

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