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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
[email protected]
May 1, 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
Roseneath, ON
K0K 2X0
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland - [email protected]
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller - [email protected]
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu - [email protected]
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam - [email protected]
Premier Brian Pallister - [email protected]
Chief Medical Officer for Manitoba Dr. Brent Roussin - [email protected]
Premier Jason Kenney - [email protected]
Chief Medical Officer for Alberta Dr. Deena Hinshaw - [email protected]
Premier Scott Moe - [email protected]
Premier Doug Ford - [email protected]
Chief Medical Officer for Ontario Dr. David Williams - [email protected]
Premier John Horgan - [email protected]
Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia Dr. Bonnie Henry - [email protected]
Premier Ministre du Quebec Francois Legault - [email protected]
Directeur National de Santé Publique Dr. Horacio Arruda - [email protected]

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 March 2021 by email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and copied to other Federal Ministers, Provincial Premiers, and Chief Medical Officers. This revised text will be e-mailed out in early May 2021.




2020-06-22 15:24:53 -0400

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.

2020-06-22 15:08:49 -0400

On June 17, 2020 three Republican Senators introduced in the US Senate the "Cut profits to the Cuban Regime Act" which, if adopted, would penalize any government, worldwide, that contracts with the Cuban government for the provision of medical personnel. To date some 34 Cuban health teams have been sent to 27 countries on four continents. Canada is the only country known to have rejected a request by Manitoba First Nations for a Cuban medical team. Click on article by Sir Ronald Sanders -

2020-06-10 14:45:00 -0400

Intriguing title "How Che Guevara Taught Cuba to Confront COVID-19" for an in depth article on the building of the Cuban Health system since 1959 (and despite the constant US blockade) that has distinguished Cuba as a country in the Americas with the lowest novel coronavirus infection rate at home AND WITH THE ABILITY TO SEND more than 2,300 medical personnel teams to 27 countries on four continents to help those countries combat COVID-19. Lots of learnings to be found in this article that could help Canada go to another level in preparing for the inevitable next pandemic. .

2020-05-15 07:27:56 -0400

Further evidence that Minister Freeland’s March 30 rejection of a F.N. request for a Cuban medical team was a decision driven by ideology, not fact-based science.
“The jurisdictional fight between the provinces and the federal government....more often than not leaves Indigenous people without any services.”

2020-05-06 08:23:23 -0400

This petition backed by 1335 signatures was sent to Minister Freeland (and other Ministers including PM Trudeau) on May 4, 2020 calling for a letter of Recognition from our federal government to be publicized and sent no later than June 4, 2020. This petition will remain open to having more signatures until June 4 when further action will be considered if no letter has been forthcoming.
A Press Release based on the Petition’s text was send to media sources on May 5. Rick

2020-04-26 12:02:15 -0400

The New Brunswick Media Coop carries a very good summary of the request for a Cuban medical team by Manitoba First Nations, the rejection by Ottawa (and the implications of that rejection) and an acknowledgement of the work being carried out by well trained Cuban health care teams on three continents (22 countries now with South Africa being the most recent).

2020-04-24 19:33:21 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2020-04-24 11:24:41 -0400

Costa Rican online newspaper el has picked up on this petition and put together the article you can access clicking on the URL that follows

2020-04-19 15:59:35 -0400

Y Here (below) is another petition you may want to consider supporting. It appears to have been launched on April 9th, and asks for specific medical equipment and federal assistance for remote communities. One of their requests is also for Cuban doctors to be allowed in to go to remote communities. While it is complementary to this Lead Now petition, it doesn't ask Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to publicly recognize the important international solidarity role being played by Cuban Health teams on three continents (this after Ms. Freeland publicly rejected the Manitoba First Nations request for a Cuban health team, as reported by the CBC on March 30).

2020-04-18 20:17:02 -0400

Canada's Daily African Canadian and Caribbean News Magazine PRIDE - "Cuba Develops Vaccine to Combat COVID-19"...this article would suggest that Canada could seek out a greater degree of mutually beneficial cooperation with Cuba's pharmacological institutes and lessen Canada's reliance on Big (US) Pharma...

2020-04-18 12:39:48 -0400

500 signatures reached

2020-04-17 08:35:47 -0400

Ironic that the Manitoba government makes this call at the same time that this petition is launched - MANITOBA TEMPORARILY BANS NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO NORTHERN, REMOTE COMMUNITIES - WINNIPEG FREE PRESS...ironic in that if Freeland had not rejected the Manitoba First Nations' request earlier this year, the potential Cuban medical team would have by now completed their 14 days of isolation and would have been available to assist the fragile health system in remote communities in Manitoba.

2020-04-16 12:17:12 -0400

100 signatures reached

2020-04-16 10:41:54 -0400

50 signatures reached

2020-04-16 09:44:13 -0400

Article - Cuba’s Coronavirus Response is Putting Other Countries to Shame -

2020-04-16 09:21:07 -0400

25 signatures reached

2020-04-16 07:25:15 -0400

10 signatures reached