Sunday June 21, 2020 - Below please find the URL for a letter of appreciation to Cuba from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for the medical support provided to six member countries to combat the spread of COVID-19. This Canadian petition asked Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to make public a letter of appreciation from the Canadian government for the international work of the Cuban health teams during COVID-19. The request asked Ms. Freeland to do so by June 4....but no letter has been forthcoming. Congrats to the OECS for doing what Canada could have been the first country to do.
To: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
COVID-19 variants could fuel spike in Canada: Act now and don't ignore 'lessons learned'.
Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
March 3, 2021
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
This petition backed by 2000 Canadian supporters, was initiated during the 'first wave' of COVID-19. It contained a respectful request that the Canadian government officially recognize Cuba's medical internationalism at the United Nations. Since last spring Cuban medical teams have treated well over one million coronavirus infected patients in 40 countries on four continents. Canada's grass-roots Nomination of the Cuban medics for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was the first to be received by the Oslo Nobel Committee and it has been followed by some 50 other Nominations from every corner of the world. Vaccines offer hope, but we are not out of the woods.
Lessons learned? CANADA-CUBA.
CANADA was ill-prepared for COVID-19. ‘Old’ stocks of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) had been destroyed prior to the arrival of the coronavirus, and never replenished. In 2018 Canada closed its Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) depriving the country (and the world) of an early warning system for global pandemics. In recent decades our political leaders have promoted austerity measures that have whittled away funding for Canada’s health care system, leaving it weaker and us less protected than we should have been.
In 2005 CUBA’s leadership decided to build on their already exemplary health care system. They determined that in this new millennium along with climate change would come an increase in natural disasters and a global acceleration in pandemic outbreaks. Over a period of 15 years Cuba trained thousands of specialized medical responders who would be able to mobilize rapidly on a world-wide basis and did so in response to COVID-19.
CANADA’s professional front-line health workers would have handled the coronavirus challenge better had the deck not been stacked against them from the start. Additional support from pandemic-trained Cuban doctors and nurses could have minimized ‘burnout’ as well as helped save Canadian lives, particularly in isolated Indigenous communities. The advent of new coronavirus variants once again raises the question of some timely CUBAN support for our overextended medical professionals.
While it is understandable that CANADA would want to ensure a coronavirus vaccination for every citizen who wishes one, wealthy countries with easier access to, and the ability to pay for, such pharmaceuticals should be careful in ordering far in excess of their eventual requirements. While G7 countries have on average ordered 4-5 doses (two needed per person), Canada has 9.6 doses on order. Procurement on such a massive scale by wealthy countries crowds out access to vaccines for poor nations. As the September 23, 2020 throne speech concluded: “We cannot eliminate this pandemic in Canada unless we end it everywhere”.
CANADA once had a publicly owned pharmaceutical company (Connaught Labs) that could have developed affordable treatments and vaccines, and thus would have made a difference in the current coronavirus crisis - except that we sold it. It would have come in handy now.
CUBA on the other hand has home grown pharmaceutical companies working on four vaccine candidates. One of them called Soberana 02 is in the third and final stage of testing. Cuba expects to have most of its population vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of this year, and is working to have millions of low cost doses available to share with other Caribbean and Latin American countries.
Lots we can learn from this island nation!
With the Hon. Bob Rae now installed as Canada's Ambassador to the UN, we ask that your government instruct him to pursue all available international fora to have our country speak to the remarkable world-wide efforts by Cuba's medical internationalism in these trying times.
Rick Arnold (petition organizer)
784 Packer Road
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland - Chrystia.Freeland@parl.gc.ca
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller - Marc.Miller@parl.gc.ca
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu - Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam - email@example.com
Premier Brian Pallister - Premier@leg.gov.mb.ca
Chief Medical Officer for Manitoba Dr. Brent Roussin - Brent.Roussin@gov.mb.ca
Premier Jason Kenney - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Medical Officer for Alberta Dr. Deena Hinshaw - email@example.com
Premier Scott Moe - firstname.lastname@example.org
Premier Doug Ford - email@example.com
Chief Medical Officer for Ontario Dr. David Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org
Premier John Horgan - email@example.com
Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia Dr. Bonnie Henry - firstname.lastname@example.org
Premier Ministre du Quebec Francois Legault - email@example.com
Directeur National de Santé Publique Dr. Horacio Arruda - firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is this important?
Manitoba First Nations leadership requested earlier last year that a Cuban team of medical specialists in treating pandemics be allowed to come to isolated communities there to buttress sporadic health coverage. That request was quickly and publicly rejected by Deputy Prime Minister Freeland. This rejection by Canada came as the U.S. government issued a warning to countries not to accept Covid-19 professional medical help from Cuba. Canada needs to stand up now and publicly recognize the remarkable role that the small country of Cuba is playing internationally by contributing some 54 teams of trained doctors, nurses and technicians (an estimated 4,000 medical personnel) to the global fight against Covid-19 in 40 countries on four continents.
This petition asks that the Canadian government move quickly to invite a Cuban health team to combat the resurgence of COVID-19 over the coming months of 2021, and that our government officially recognize Cuba's medical internationalism at the United Nations.
PS: Canadian academic John Kirk, backed by eminent Canadians and several national organizations, has submitted a Nomination for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for the international work being done during COVID-19 by the Cuban Health Teams. For more information on the Nomination initiative see 'Campaign web site' below.
How it will be delivered
The petition's original text + accumulated signatures was previously sent on Dec. 9, 2020 by email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and copied to other Federal Ministers, Provincial Premiers, and Chief Medical Officers. This revised text will be sent out in March 2021.