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Atlantic premiers consider reallocating COVID-19 resources to hard-hit Ontario

Click to play video: 'Atlantic provinces offer pandemic assistance to Ontario' Atlantic provinces offer pandemic assistance to Ontario
WATCH: Ontario is looking to recruit health care workers from other parts of Canada, as the province's COVID-19 crisis pushes hospitals to the brink. Ross Lord explains where the help is coming from, and why pitching in has its own complications. – Apr 24, 2021

Atlantic premiers say they are considering what resources can be shifted to Ontario as the province deals with a severe third wave of COVID-19.

Three out of four provincial leaders spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday evening to discuss what help can be offered.

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Ontario reported 4,362 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 34 new deaths, marking a third-wave high and bringing the provincial death toll to 7,698.

There are 2,065 Ontarians hospitalized with the virus.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 4,300 new COVID-19 cases, 34 deaths

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin tweeted on Sunday that he spoke to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, after Ford’s plea to reroute vaccines from Atlantic Canada.

In a provincial briefing on Friday, Rankin said giving up vaccines is not an option for Nova Scotia. But, in Sunday’s tweet, he said other aid could be available.

“While Nova Scotia isn’t in a position to reallocate vaccines, I have asked our officials to consider what resources we are able to provide while continuing to keep Nova Scotians safe,” said Rankin in the tweet.

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Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King tweeted Saturday night, saying he has asked his teams to “undertake a scan of (P.E.I.’s) current situation.”

“Our first priority remains to protect the health and safety of Islanders,” said King, adding that the province must brace for the possible arrival of the third wave to the region.

“While we want to provide some assistance to our fellow Canadians in need, we need to try to remain fully prepared for what we could be faced with,” he wrote.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey tweeted: “Being a part of #TeamCanada means coming together — that’s the power of this federation.”

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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was not on the call with Trudeau.

The province has been dealing with a severe outbreak of COVID-19 variants in the Edmundston region, which remains under lockdown.

Higgs has expressed some willingness to see vaccines diverted, but the opposition Liberals say that shouldn’t happen. In a Saturday press release, New Brunswick Liberals urged the government to keep vaccines in the province.

“Every vaccine arriving in New Brunswick should be used in New Brunswick,” said interim leader Roger Melanson.

“Outbreaks like the one in Zone 4 can happen in any other region of the province.”

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Melanson said the province needs to focus on getting vaccines into the arms of anyone who wants one, before assisting other provinces.

“When people fly in aircrafts and there’s turbulence or any incident and the oxygen mask falls in your face, what do they tell you? Put it on yourself first and then help others. I think that’s what we need to do in New Brunswick,” Melanson said in an interview.

In a Sunday afternoon email to Global News, Higgs’ office said there are ongoing conversations with the federal government on what resources New Brunswick may be able to share.

“This is a decision that will be made by the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19 and by cabinet with input from the regional health authorities,” read the statement on the behalf of Nicolle Carlin.

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“Any human resources that could potentially be shared would also be based upon medical professionals in our province volunteering to assist in another province.”

New Brunswick has been focusing on vaccinating cross-border travellers like truckers and other who move back and forth into Quebec and Maine for work.

“It’s really important that we have all of our cross-border activity as protected as possible. That will limit exposure in the province,” Higgs told reporters on Tuesday.

Global News has reached out to Premier Higgs’ office and will update this article with comments. 

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