March 23rd, 2020
Letter to Minister Hajdu on COVID-19 Testing
Honourable Minister Hajdu,
Constituents and healthcare professionals have brought to my attention concerns regarding our ability to ramp up testing for COVID-19 in our region. For Indigenous and Northern communities, the ability to test, quarantine and isolate people that have contracted COVID-19 will be critical to prevent its spread, as the housing crisis and the lack of healthcare infrastructure will exacerbate the transmission of the disease.
The ability to quickly test large segments of the population will be critical going forward. We are already hearing that the laboratory capacity in Winnipeg is overwhelmed. As the virus circulates in Manitoba, we have to be ready to offer testing to an increasing number of people, in more areas, and to analyse larger amounts of swabs. We need more access to more tests and more laboratory capacity in Manitoba to analyse the tests starting immediately.
Our region needs to increase the speed and the reach of tests. As the federal government has a responsibility to provide healthcare to First Nations, it too must ensure that tests are available and that we have adequate laboratory capacity to make sure they are processed in a timely matter. Lives depend on it.
Niki Ashton, MP
Churchill – KeewatinookAski