Justin Trudeau – Progressive Conservatives promise point-of-entry COVID-19 testing, better vaccine rollout in Newfoundland and Labrador | Canada | News
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie took on the Liberal government’s handling of the COVID-29 pandemic Wednesday, pledging his party could do better when it comes to access to testing and vaccine rollout.
The issue: Crosbie says there is no reason not to bring in point-of-entry testing, and vaccine rollout is dismal in Newfoundland and Labrador compared to other provinces.
“For months now, we’ve been urging the government to approve point-of-entry testing to detect cases sooner and prevent spread in our communities,” Crosbie told reporters.
“This is urgent now that new variants of the virus are appearing in Alberta and across the country. (Liberal Leader) Andrew Furey has said a flat no — the science is not good enough. But the science is good enough for (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau, who has just implemented point-of-entry testing for Canadians travelling across international borders.”
Crosbie promised that a PC government would:
• Instate point-of-entry testing at all border access points to help detect COVID-19 and ease the burden of rotational workers.
• Ensure vaccines are distributed quickly and fairly to residents of the province, prioritizing the most vulnerable.
• Work to address the mental-health concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians affected by the pandemic.
• Minimize disruptions in non-COVID-19 health care.
• Investigate how it claims the Liberal government failed to maintain the province’s personal protective equipment stockpile, and work to ensure the province is prepared in case of another pandemic.
• Conduct a top-to-bottom review of the COVID-19 response.
What the other parties say
NDP Leader Alison Coffin: “I have a huge appreciation of the sacrifices being made by rotational workers and their families. Those sacrifices add to the efforts of every person in this province who has been fighting COVID-19 following the instructions of our chief medical officer of health (Dr. Janice Fitzgerald). She is making her decisions based on the science, and that is how health decisions should be made — not by politicians. Point-of-entry testing, for example, is a snapshot of a person’s health at any given time and not the level of their symptoms two days later.”
The Liberals: “The province’s chief medical officer of health (CMOH) has been very clear about the problems with point-of-entry (POE) testing, and public health officials provided the media with a technical briefing in the fall to explain why they decided to not utilize POE testing at this time. POE testing misses a significant number of cases that later turn positive. It can create a false sense of security for people entering the province. It may also create barriers for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 in obtaining testing in a timely manner.
“In the PC party’s news release today, Mr. Crosbie is rejecting the evidence-based decision-making of the CMOH and her team, who have guided Newfoundland and Labrador incredibly well throughout this pandemic. In order for Mr. Crosbie to implement point-of-entry testing in Newfoundland and Labrador, he would first have to reopen the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, remove the decision-making authority from the CMOH and politicize decisions concerning the health and safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
“One must only look to other provinces in Canada that have followed that method of pandemic response to see the problems with it. Under a public health state of emergency, Mr. Crosbie’s assertion would amount to political interference with the role of the CMOH. This is irresponsible, and the Liberal Party of NL is confident the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians join us in being grateful to the CMOH and her team at public health for their work throughout the pandemic, particularly their efforts to allow some semblance of normal life during these challenging times.
“A Furey government will continue to listen to the advice of the CMOH, who has recommended Newfoundland and Labrador follow the guidelines of the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) for COVID-19 distribution to priority groups. This will ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is administered efficiently to protect front-line health-care workers, Indigenous communities and seniors during Phase 1. As we receive additional vaccine supply from the federal government, we will be able to widely distribute the vaccine to broader priority groups and the general public.”