Question Period: COVID-19 Pandemic—Long-Term Care

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Hon. Patricia Bovey: My question is for representative of the government in the Senate. In Winnipeg, like hospitals, the number of COVID-19 cases in care homes is rising. Media reports 336 cases and 35 deaths in 16 of these homes as of November 3. Parkview Place alone has had 138 cases. These outbreaks are similar to what happened in Ontario and Quebec, which have been detailed here by Senator Seidman and Senator Martin, and are putting many of our elderly and staff in a perilous situation. People are frightened.

The Premier of Manitoba called for volunteers to pitch in during this rise in COVID-19 cases, which is putting such a strain on the province’s health system. Some 7,000 people have signed on to help. This shows the generous nature of Manitobans, and I salute their spirit.

Senator Gold, today we learned that the Red Cross will be assisting in two of the larger care homes and that military assistance has also been discussed between the province and the federal government. Can you tell us whether the Canadian military will also be providing support to alleviate the dire situation in Winnipeg care homes?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for raising this issue with me. I’ve been advised that the government is currently reviewing the request from the Province of Manitoba for Canadian Red Cross support. Your advance notice of the question allowed me to inquire with the government, and I have been told that, at least to date, Manitoba has not requested assistance from the Armed Forces, which would be a precondition for the government to move forward. But the government remains committed to assisting both the provinces and the territories when requested to do so, so that we can provide care for the most vulnerable.

Senator Bovey: Thank you. I appreciate that the discussions have been held and a request has not formally been made. How quickly would the Canadian Red Cross or Canadian military respond if a request was made?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the follow-up question. I don’t know how long before an answer on the Red Cross, or how long a response would take, were a formal request to be made. Judging from past experience during the course of the pandemic, the government was able to respond quickly because the government understands how important it is to provide help to those most vulnerable.

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