A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Sunday, April.25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Channi Anand

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Sunday, April.25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Channi Anand

Opposition parties support sending COVID-19 aid to India; no specifics from Canada

U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to send help to the country of nearly 1.4 billion people

The leaders of the federal Conservatives and NDP say Canada should send aid to India as it struggles with a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases, while the Liberal government has yet to announce any details of how it plans to help.

U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to send help to the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, where hospitals are reporting that they are running out of oxygen to treat patients.

The White House has said it will send raw materials needed to make Covishield, the version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India, along with therapeutics, rapid-testing kids, ventilators and potentially oxygen.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday Canada will “stand ready” with personal protective equipment, ventilators and “any items that might be useful,” but as of Monday the federal government had yet to provide more specifics.

The Indian government is scrambling to source medical products including liquid oxygen and oxygen concentrators — a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air — said Ajay Bisaria, India’s high commissioner to Canada.

“We were ready for a big wave, but this became a tsunami nothing like India’s ever seen before, and nothing like we saw in the first wave,” Bisaria said in an interview.

He said Anand has been “very helpful” in connecting diplomatic officials in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver to manufacturers, but the degree to which Canada can help remains uncertain.

“Canada has some technologies where it makes ventilators and oxygen concentrators. With bedside oxygen concentrators, we’re not very clear about whether they’re manufactured in Canada or they’re imported from other sources in the U.S.,” Bisaria said.

“We haven’t got to any drug manufacturers yet.”

In the meantime, Indo-Canadian community organizations have “rushed in” to help, he added. The Indian Red Cross Society has been authorized to handle donations related to COVID-19 from groups abroad.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he supports sending aid but also called for tougher travel restrictions. Canada announced last week a 30-day suspension of all flights from India and Pakistan, but O’Toole said the government should take a stronger stance.

“Let’s help our friends in India, but let’s also have an approach of stopping international flights until we can get a handle on keeping the variants out of Canada,” he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said India’s situation is “catastrophic” and Canada needs to act as a global citizen, because when the novel coronavirus spreads badly in one region, it affects others.

Early in the pandemic O’Toole was critical of the Liberal government sending personal protective equipment to China, but he said that was because Canada didn’t have enough of its own supply, which is no longer the case.

His party points to the decision as one of the government’s early failings in the pandemic. The Tories say Canada lacked an adequate stockpile of masks and gloves needed by health-care workers to battle the virus.

On the question of sending aide to India, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet expressed support for doing so, saying the pandemic is taking a global toll and “sometimes we have to behave like a planet.”

Canada says it has procured 2.7 billon items of personal protective equipment, with 1.5 billion pieces already delivered for use.

READ MORE: Canada to halt direct flights from India, Pakistan for 30 days due to COVID variant concerns

— With files from Christopher Reynolds

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusIndia

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Student-nurse Kendra Waterstreet administers the Pfizer vaccine to Litia Fleming at the Waneta Plaza vaccination clinic in the old Zellers buiding. Photo: Jim Bailey
Trail vaccination clinic readies for adults age 40+

B.C.’s state of emergency is extended through the end of day on May 25

Kerry Reed
West Kootenay Fishing Report: Spring fishing, the bite is on!!

Anglers having great results on Kootenay Lake and Columbia River

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

For something a little different this week, Trail Blazers is featuring an historical image from the Kootenay Boundary. This rough and tumble photo shows the Forshaw Ranch near Phoenix, B.C, circa 1914. Photo Credit: Boundary Heritage Facebook Page (via Grand Forks Gazette)
Trail Blazers: Home, home on the range

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read