Alberta ‘not in a position’ to send health-care workers to Ontario amid COVID-19 case surge

The Alberta government said it is simply not in a position to send its health-care workers outside of the province after a plea from Ontario for help amid spiking COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

In a letter to all provinces and territories, Ontario’s deputy minister of health Helen Angus said the province is short thousands of nurses and asked whether her counterparts have any resources to spare. The letter asks for another 620 health professionals, including nurses and respiratory therapists.

The plea from Ontario comes as that province hit a single-day record for COVID-19 cases Friday with 4,812 new infections reported.

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

The press secretary for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday that Alberta received a request from Ontario for health-care workers. However, Alberta is currently not in a place to help.

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“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,” Jerrica Goodwin said in a statement.

“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.”

Alberta currently has 416 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 86 people in intensive care. Earlier this week, the province’s chief medical officer of health warned of surging hospitalization numbers.

“Hospitalizations are increasing province-wide and cases continue to rise sharply,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday.

“If we don’t see growth slowing soon, further measures may be required.”

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw warns more COVID-19 restrictions may be coming during 3rd wave' Hinshaw warns more COVID-19 restrictions may be coming during 3rd wave

Hinshaw warns more COVID-19 restrictions may be coming during 3rd wave

In her statement Friday, Goodwin said Alberta has always been willing to help its fellow Canadians in times of crisis, pointing to a situation earlier in the pandemic when Alberta shipped surplus personal protective equipment to British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

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“Our hearts go out to the people of Ontario as they fight this third wave and we will continue to have discussions with the Ontario government on how Alberta might support them going forward,” Goodwin said.

Read more: Hinshaw warns rising COVID-19 hospitalizations could lead to more restrictions ‘soon’

Alberta’s COVID-19 case count also continues to rise. On Thursday, the province reported 1,646 new cases of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, there were 16,223 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

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