Coronavirus: Can Canada get front-line health workers what they need before it’s too late?

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Canada’s fight against the novel coronavirus has left front-line health-care workers exhausted and concerned over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The federal government has been quick to reassure citizens, touting a stockpile of equipment and ventilators as well as equipment production with the message that Canada has enough PPE to protect its citizens and front-line health-care workers — despite pleas from provincial premiers for more.

But speaking from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unable to promise Canadians they would not face a shortage of much-needed equipment, raising questions about the government’s supply and whether it could make it to the front lines in time.

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With Canada’s situation evolving so rapidly, the prime minister said it was impossible to guarantee anything but noted the government was working hard to fulfil the country’s needs for equipment and ensure it was distributed properly.

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According to Trudeau, the federal stockpile has been ensuring provinces have the equipment needed to prevent health-care systems from becoming overwhelmed, but Health Minister Patty Hajdu disagreed and said on Wednesday the government “likely did not have enough.”

“Federal governments, for decades, have been underfunding things like public health preparedness. And I would say that, obviously, governments all across the world are in the same exact situation,” she said.

On Tuesday, Trudeau announced he was allocating $2 billion to be spent on PPE for front-line health workers,

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