New Brunswick can't spare health-care workers to help Ontario battle COVID, says minister

·2 min read
Ontario hospital nurses are facing burnout and high turnover rates this spring as the COVID-19 crisis continues. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Ontario hospital nurses are facing burnout and high turnover rates this spring as the COVID-19 crisis continues. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick can't spare any health-care workers to assist Ontario in battling the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

But "as Canadians and as New Brunswickers, it is wired into our DNA to want to help," she said.

So the government is encouraging retired health-care workers or people with the necessary skills who are working outside the health-care system, and are able to go to Ontario, to do so, Shephard said during Tuesday's COVID-19 news conference.

Specifically, Ontario is in need of nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and anesthesia assistants, she said.

Ontario and the federal government have requested help from the Atlantic region in recent days as the pandemic rages on.

On Tuesday, Ontario reported 3,469 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths. That puts the active case count at 42,941 and pushes the official toll to 7,757.

Another 158 people with COVID-19-related illnesses were also admitted to hospital Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health, bringing the total to 2,360. Of those, 773 are being treated in intensive care, while 537 require a ventilator to breathe. All three figures are new pandemic highs for Ontario.

"While New Brunswick does not have the available resources within the regional health authorities, any health-care workers who are retired or working outside of the health-care system are being encouraged to assist," said Shephard.

The federal government will cover all expenses, including salary, travel and accommodations, she said.

To find out more on how to assist, people can email NBHEOC@gnb.ca, or call 506-444-2882 or after hours, 506-461-2880.

Other Atlantic provinces

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced Tuesday that eight health-care providers and nursing students are ready to report for work in Ontario on an emergency basis.

"I'm proud. …They are the bravest of the brave and when it's needed most, when the chips are down, [they're] running towards the fire," he said.

Talks continue to work out the details, King said, adding: "I only committed to doing what we can."

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey told CBC on Sunday his province would send medical staff, equipment and supplies to Ontario, as capacity allows.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is a small province, but we recognize the significant impact this is having on Canadians living in Ontario. And we want to be able to help," he said.

The province hopes to organize a group of medical professionals to help in COVID-19 units and critical care units and provide some relief, Furey said, with more details expected over the next 24 hours.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin has said his government is looking at what resources it could offer to Ontario, while continuing to keep Nova Scotians safe.

The province could be hit with some COVID cases "that could change our scenario very quickly," Rankin has said.