WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is speaking out against the federal government after the sale of rapid COVID-19 tests were blocked to provinces.
Central Services Minister Reg Helwer says Manitoba attempted to purchase the ID NOW tests from manufacturer Abbott, but was told Ottawa had prevented them from selling their units directly to provinces.
“This is a completely unacceptable action by the federal government,” said Helwer.
“Although the federal government has secured its own supply, it has indicated that it will decide how that supply will be allocated. Provincial governments are the front-line providers of health care in this country and are best able to determine their own needs.”
The Abbott ID NOW rapid test has been approved by Health Canada for use in the country.
Helwer says it’s not the first time the federal government has interfered in the supply of PPE and other pandemic-related goods to individual provinces.
Manitoba ordered two million N95 masks earlier this year, but that order was blocked by the U.S. government and redirected to Ottawa. Because of these federal seizures, Manitoba has only received a fraction of the quantities to which we were entitled, Helwer noted.
Premier Brian Pallister has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately relieve Abbott of any prohibitions on the sale of the ID NOW rapid test to Manitoba.