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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)
North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

Matt Ellison was a star with the Kerry Park Islanders before embarking on a pro career that included stops in the NHL and KHL. (Submitted)
Ex-NHLers to highlight Kerry Park-Peninsula alumni games

Matt Ellison and Kyle Greentree commit to suit up in August

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)
North Vancouver Island Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Program ready to relaunch

Teams have protocols in place to ensure COVID-19 safety while providing marine safety net

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Most Read