Ottawa says it wants every Canadian who wants one to have access to a COVID-19 rapid testing kit.
So it’s ramping up the number of kits available to provinces and territories.
“I’m pleased to confirm that an additional 140 million rapid tests will be delivered to provinces and territories in the month of January,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Wednesday.
“As requested by our colleagues from provinces and territories, these tests will be allocated to them on a per capita basis.”
Duclos said the new kits will be enough for one rapid test per week for every Canadian for the rest of the month.
However, the problem has not been the supply of rapid testing kits but rather the access to them.
The federal government said it supplied 35 million kits in December alone.
Yet complaints continue to pour in of provincial facilities running out of kits within minutes of opening.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa will continue to supply the rapid testing kits but how they are distributed is up to the provinces.
“When we talk about how one province or another is responding to one aspect or another of the pandemic, we have to recognize that the different regions in this country are facing very different situations,” he told a press briefing in Ottawa.
“And we are a federation in which the delivery of health care is a responsibility of the provinces and they will make determinations around how best to serve their citizens.”
But Ottawa is responsible for the health care of First Nations peoples and Trudeau said the government is doing everything in its power to ensure these communities have proper access to both vaccines and testing kits.
“We have leaned in specifically and directly on ensuring supports for Indigenous peoples and Indigenous communities across this country,” he said.
“That goes from early vaccinations of Moderna to remote communities in the north back in the beginning of 2021 to specific measures around testing and rapid tests to extra supports for frontline workers.”
Also at the briefing, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said roughly one million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests were done across the country in the last week of December.
These longer-term lab tests are considered to be more accurate than rapid testing kits.