Alberta asks feds for help transferring ICU patients out of province
Alberta has asked the federal government for help transporting critically ill patients out of the province for care and bringing in ICU staff, registered nurses and respiratory therapists.
Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver made the request in a letter to Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair on Tuesday, asking for an immediate meeting.
In his letter, McIver outlines that the province has enacted a state of public health emergency and has "actioned a series of steps to relieve pressure on our health care system."
Those steps include a contingency plan to transfer patients out of the province for care and bring while bringing in specialists.
"Federal assistance in these two areas has the potential to create significant relief to the health care system," it read.
Blair said on social media soon after that the request would be approved.
"Federal officials have been engaging their counterparts in Alberta for the past week to offer help," he said. "I have made it clear that when a request is received, it will be approved. We will work together to provide for the people across Alberta."
Premier Jason Kenney is expected to announce a cabinet shuffle Tuesday afternoon, which sources have told CTV News will include removing Tyler Shandro as health minister.
NDP Health Critic David Shepherd issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying "Albertans should be appalled" McIver waited until after the federal election to make the ask.
“Alberta’s frontline healthcare workers need all the help they can get as they struggle with the emergency created by the UCP’s failure to act for months while this crisis escalated. I hope the federal government is able to provide resources to relieve some of this excruciating pressure," said Shepherd.
“Albertans should be appalled that Ric McIver waited until after the federal election to make this call to Ottawa. Once again, the UCP is focused on politics instead of the terrible price that Albertans are paying right now, with record ICU admissions and thousands of life-saving surgeries cancelled. It’s disgustingly cynical.”
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has earlier said that province will help Alberta manage its overwhelmed intensive care units (ICUs), which have been inundated with COVID-19 patients.
Alberta added more than 4,600 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend as hospitalizations rose to a record high.
Monday's update included data from Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The province reported 4,633 new cases over that three-day span.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals rose to 954, the highest count of the pandemic to date. That figure includes 216 patients in intensive care units, the third most to date.