Ottawa offers support for greater testing and contact tracing

© Can Stock Photo / mikegreen1

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is offering provincial and territorial leaders federal resources to boost testing for COVID-19, contact tracing, and data sharing.

He told reporters he and the First Ministers are all on the same page and that those things need to improve as the economy begins to reopen.

“I’ve told the premiers that the federal government is here to support, facilitate, and fund this important work,” said Trudeau.

He did not give a dollar figure for how much his government would pay to meet those objectives.

Already, Ontario receives help from the federal government for contact tracing, but Trudeau said there are enough federal employees to make those calls for other jurisdictions.

“Our government has trained federal employees who can make 3,600 contact tracing calls a day, seven days a week,” said Trudeau.

Statistics Canada has another 1,700 interviewers that could conduct a total of 20,000 calls a day.

“We have developed a public service approach federally that is there to support the mechanisms in the province to do that contact tracing, and we’re ramping it up,” added Trudeau.

Nationally, there is the capacity to conduct 60,000 tests for COVID-19 each day. Canada is not doing that many tests daily. Some jurisdictions have less need.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has expressed frustration with testing levels. On Thursday, the province screened 11,276 people for COVID-19, far below the target he set of 16,000.

So far, Ontario has tested 558,792 people, a rate of 38,361 per 1-million residents.

Ontario’s caseload, as of Friday morning, was 24,628, but 18,767 people have recovered.

Quebec, which has the most cases in Canada at 44,495, has not asked for federal help as of yet.