Skip to main content

To: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada: COVID-19 "second wave" has hit us hard - Canada needs Cuban medic support asap

Canada: COVID-19 "second wave" has hit us hard - Canada needs Cuban medic support asap

Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
Back on December 10 you chaired a first ministers' meeting on COVID-19 requiring a comprehensive and coordinated response, it was neither. Backed by some 2000 Canadian signatories, a letter was sent on Dec. 9 requesting yourself and the assembled First Ministers to invite pandemic-trained Cuban medical personnel to assist in the red alert (and grey alert) zones in Canada. Though there may be a 'light at the end of the tunnel' because of vaccines, it must be made clear to the public that there is still a long and very dangerous road to traverse this winter/spring, with thousands of Canadians' lives at stake.

We the undersigned are asking that you invite pandemic trained Cuban medical personnel to come to Canada right away. Why?

Because the 'second wave' of COVID-19 is hitting our country hard from coast to coast to coast. Hospitals in several cities are at or surpassing capacity, with Alberta, for example, in the process of planning the roll out of field hospitals to take the overflow of infected patients. But how will this work as the province already has a serious shortage of nurses on top of many cases of health care worker burnout (and no, the military can't take over making medical interventions).

The signatories to this Petition also wish to bring your attention to the unheralded level of infections and hospitalizations among Indigenous Peoples, and most particularly Indigenous populations in Manitoba where, as of November 27, 2020, the test positivity rate in that province for Indigenous had skyrocketed to 21% compared to 14.5% more generally.

Prime Minister, this is not the first time that we have reached out to yourself and your federal Ministers. On May 4, 2020 Deputy Prime Minister Freeland's Ottawa office received a petition backed by over 1,300 signatures asking the Canadian government to review its March 30, 2020 rejection of a request by 34 Manitoba First Nations for a Cuban health team to arrive in advance of COVID-19. We never received a reply. Will we get one this time?

That predicted precipitous spike in coronavirus numbers has now come to pass, and it currently threatens to overwhelm our first rate front-line health workers. Now is the time for Ottawa to work with the provinces to secure the assistance of highly experienced Cuban medical personnel who are trained as infectious disease experts. Faced with this unremitting and deadly pandemic it is clear that science should prevail over ideology. It is 'all options on the table' decision time for Federal and Provincial leaders who may be feeling a sense of embarrassment over inviting in a professionally trained contingent of pandemic-trained medics from a small island nation to shore up a Canadian health-system under siege. Those leaders should put aside those feelings with the realization that 39 other nations on four continents (including Europe) have already issued such invitations.

We note that Bill C-15 has been introduced into the House of Commons respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). While we applaud your government for finally taking this step, we wish to point out that in rejecting out-of-hand on March 30 of this year the request for Cuban medical personnel issued by 34 First Nations in Manitoba, your government would have been in violation of upholding indigenous rights as detailed in the UN adoption of UNDRIP in 2007 as to "constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world". Indigenous rights matter!

We call on Canada to immediately approach the Cuban government to arrange for vital medical personnel support for our hospitals, and for the most at risk Indigenous Peoples in isolated rural communities.


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

Why is this important?

Manitoba First Nations leadership requested earlier this 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 53 teams of trained doctors, nurses and technicians (an estimated 4,000 medical personnel) to the global fight against Covid-19 in 39 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.

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 sent on Dec. 9 by email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and copied to other Federal Ministers, Provincial Premiers, and Chief Medical Officers. we are awaiting a response. This revised text will be sent out before the end of December and would take into account an answer from Ottawa, should it be forthcoming.

Reasons for signing

  • We need all the help we can get & Cuba’s done an excellent job of keeping their numbers of positive Covid cases down
  • I signed because Christia Freeland needs to know the solidarity with Cuba that Canadians have and the support for their selfless humanitarianism despite the cruel and illegal blockade by the US.The government (Canada)must reflect the people's thoughts and ideas.
  • cuban doctors the best


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