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

Photo: RCMP
Rossland pedestrian dies after being pinned between 2 vehicles

RCMP Sgt. advises that victim services is available for anyone requiring help

Dani Evans with her brother Alex, 9, and George, her buddy dog (a guide dog for children). Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Visually impaired girl walks for Nelson Friends of the Family

Dani Evans is raising money through the month of May

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Castlegar pharmacy gets additional AstraZeneca vaccines

Two Castlegar pharmacies list appointment openings this week

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Castlegar City Hall. (Photo: Kristen Lawson)
City of Castlegar finance reports for 2020 show revenue losses

Some losses were offset by savings and grants

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

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

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Most Read