COVID-19: Support to provinces and territories
On this page
- About our federal response
- Health Human Resources Assistance Program
- Rapid surge capacity support
- Human resource recruitment
- Public Health Rapid Response Team
- Outbreak management
- Testing assistance
- Testing equipment
- Laboratory services
- Contact tracing
- Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program
About our federal response
Federal partners are actively working together to support provinces and territories in responding to COVID-19.
As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, we're providing more than $19 billion in funding to provinces and territories. This funding will help them to invest in priority areas, including:
- increasing testing and contact tracing
- strengthening support for health care systems
- securing personal protective equipment (PPE)
- supporting those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19
Since March 2020, Canada's National Emergency Strategic Stockpile has been buying the following items in bulk:
- testing equipment and supplies
- medical equipment (such as ventilators)
We're working with companies that are developing new and innovative testing technologies. We're also buying testing supplies like test kits, swabs and other equipment to provide to the provinces and territories.
The Government of Canada's response to requests takes into account current case counts and data trends:
We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, focusing on:
We're working closely with provinces and territories on a plan to distribute vaccines:
Health Human Resources Assistance Program
The Health Human Resources Assistance Program will help provide critical care to patients through reimbursement to provinces and territories. Reimbursement will be for the costs associated with the temporary transfer of health human resources from one province or territory to another.
Health care professionals include:
- physical therapists
- respiratory therapists
The program will work with provinces and territories to reimburse the costs of visiting health care professionals during temporary transfers, including:
Rapid surge capacity support
Federal partners are working together to support provinces and territories in creating the COVID-19 Federal Rapid Surge Capacity. Collaboration will help manage the impacts of COVID-19 across the country and support existing services related to:
- contact tracing
- testing assistance
- testing equipment
- laboratory services
- outbreak management
- voluntary safe isolation sites
- public health response teams
- human resource recruitment
Services should only be considered when all other resources have been exhausted. Provinces and territories are responsible for:
- prioritizing requests from their municipal or regional jurisdictions
- formally requesting assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada
Once we receive a request, we prioritize support based on:
- who has the greatest need
- the capacity available at the time for a response
This surge capacity will help us to respond to critical needs through different support services.
Human resource recruitment
The Public Service Commission has 4 staffing rosters that the provinces and territories can access to recruit candidates in Canada. The rosters are broken down by skillset, experience and location. A list of potential candidates will be provided for further assessment.
Health Canada's COVID-19 Task Force is working with the Public Service Commission, and can also help with assessment if needed.
The rosters are:
- Post-Secondary Recruitment (PSR)
- college and university graduates from a broad range of fields
- Indigenous Career Pathways (ICP)
- Indigenous graduates with previous experience in the federal public service
- Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)
- inventory of students at various levels from a broad range of fields
- 2020 Volunteer Recruitment Campaign
- Canadians who submitted their names to volunteer in support of the COVID-19 response
Public Health Rapid Response Team
The Public Health Agency of Canada has teams of technical experts available to deploy within 24 to 72 hours. This allows us to rapidly assess and identify opportunities for ongoing federal needs for outbreaks. Team members have a range of public health expertise, including:
- occupational health
- risk communications
- outbreak assessment
- infection prevention and control
An outbreak response unit leads investigations in the case of multijurisdictional outbreaks of COVID-19. The unit:
- helps with information sharing between affected jurisdictions
- collects, analyzes, interprets and disseminates information to form a national picture
- centralizes analysis of case exposure information
- coordinates investigations between the following partners:
- public health
- develops investigation tools and processes
We're working with organizations, like the Canadian Red Cross, who are adapting existing services to emerging needs in Canada.
The Canadian Red Cross will provide support in the areas of:
- isolation support
- mental health services
- outbreak crisis management
- health emergency response units
- care services in living environments
- infection prevention control services
- personal services to seniors, including:
- mental health support
- help with daily living needs
We're providing funding to the Canadian Red Cross to support surge testing sites. Funding helps them create more teams of clinical and non-clinical staff to:
- support logistics
- distribute information
- meet surge testing needs
- fill the gaps for targeted COVID-19 testing
These services will include testing in mobile units and locations within communities.
For example, a team of 25 to 40 staff would be able to test 150 to 300 people each day.
We're bringing point-of-care testing equipment and supplies for outbreak scenarios directly to areas in need.
To increase provincial and territorial capacity to provide testing, we're buying:
- molecular tests, such as the Cepheid GeneXpert platform
- antigens tests, such as the Abbott Panbio
Each province and territory decides how and when to use devices, as informed by:
Tests are distributed by considering the following priorities:
- COVID-19 hotspots where communities have requested assistance
- regions with higher-risk populations
- provinces and territories based on an agreed upon distribution approach
We're working with Indigenous Services Canada to distribute these tests to northern, remote and Indigenous communities.
We're working to continue to provide a supply of COVID-19 tests to provinces and territories on an ongoing basis.
Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory is supporting 6 federal surge capacity testing sites in:
- Guelph, ON
- Ottawa, ON
- Moncton, NB
- Winnipeg, MB
- Vancouver, BC
- Lethbridge, AB
Having laboratory testing in each region will help reduce wait times for test results and increase the impact of regional contact tracing efforts.
These labs are performing diagnostic tests and provide the results to public health authorities. Each lab is able to process over 1,000 tests a day. Robotic automation will support capacity in some of the labs.
We're providing up to $17.5 million in funding to Statistics Canada to support contact tracing services, including:
- contacting those who have been near an infected person or people (contact identification)
- providing listed contacts with information about how to monitor their health and prevent disease transmission (contact listing)
- regularly following up with contacts to monitor for symptoms and direct them to appropriate health services (contact follow-up)
Statistics Canada can currently make over 17,000 calls a day.
Provincial and territorial public health authorities provide Statistics Canada with guidelines and direction to help with contact tracing services.
Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program
The Government of Canada committed over $181 million to the Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program. The program supports municipalities and health regions across Canada from 2020 to 2023. The program funded projects in:
- Nova Scotia
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
The program helps communities establish and operate COVID-19 isolation sites for individuals who were unable to isolate safely in their usual place of residence.
This program is one of Canada's rapid response tools to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It was deployed to regions requesting support to contain outbreaks and has supported over 64 sites in 51 communities. To date, over 21,000 people have been supported through one of the federally funded sites across the country.
Access to these sites is voluntary, and local public health officials determine eligibility and manage all aspects of the sites. If you've tested positive for COVID-19 and need somewhere to isolate safely, contact your local public health authority. They'll be able to determine what options are available in your region.
The Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program is scheduled to end on March 31, 2023, and is no longer accepting new funding applications.
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