Skip to main content

To: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland

Canada: COVID-19 "second wave" is imminent - Canada needs Cuban medical personnel assistance asap

Canada: COVID-19 "second wave" is imminent - Canada needs Cuban medical personnel assistance asap

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario. K1A 0A6
July 7, 2020

Dear Minister Freeland:
On May 4, 2020 your Ottawa office received a petition backed by over 1,300 signatures asking you to review your decision of March 30, 2020 rejecting a Manitoba First Nation request for a Cuban Health Team to help buttress their indigenous communities in the coming battle against COVID-19. That petition also requested that by June 4, 2020 the Canadian government publicly share a letter to be directed to all UN members in support of the remarkable international work in the COVID-19 context that is being carried out by Cuban Health Teams on four continents. Unfortunately we have not heard back from your office.

Now with some 1770 signatures in support (see petition included with this letter), the feeling is that Canada will inevitably be facing a ‘second wave’ surge of COVID-19 cases for which Canada is not well prepared. With the projected ‘opening up’ of our economy the risk of a surge of the novel coronavirus is great, and the ‘first wave’ showed that we are lacking in infectious disease experts (IDE) to prevent, identify and report outbreaks (long term care centres, migrant workers et al.). With such skilled personnel being scarce in Canada it makes sense to turn for immediate assistance to a country that has trained thousands of IDEs since 2005, and that country is Cuba.

As the text of the included petition goes on to explain, your March 30 rejection of the Manitoba First Nation requests for trained Cuban health personnel has all the appearances of a politically motivated act. Your rejection is all the more questionable since the amassing of scientific evidence for how COVID-19 might affect indigenous populations did not start until well into April. Indigenous lives matter.

Now is the time that Ottawa can right an earlier wrong by inviting 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. We call on Canada to immediately approach the Cuban government to arrange for vital medical support to come from the island nation.


Rick Arnold (petition organizer)
784 Packer Road
Roseneath, ON
K0K 2X0

[Petition text as backgrounder to above letter sent to Minister Freeland (with signatures)]

Minister Freeland: The many Canadians who have signed this petition asked that by June 4, 2020 Canada publicly acknowledge Cuba’s remarkable acts of international solidarity in sending multiple health professional teams to help combat Covid-19 in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. We suggested that Canada's recognition for Cuba's major contribution to the global battle against the novel coronavirus could be as straightforward as a public letter of recognition delivered at a special U.N. session called for this purpose. A month has passed since that deadline with no contact from yourself or your office.

Canada is not likely to be spared a devastating "second wave" of the novel coronavirus and having barely flattened the curve in some areas of the country after the initial arrival of this virus, Canada is not well prepared to face the next 'wave'. The lives of those living in isolated indigenous communities remain at high risk for future infection should there be a resurgence of the pandemic. The debacle of infections and deaths at our long-term-care facilities and for migrant agricultural workers combined with the projected 'opening up' of industrial workplaces, schools, day care facilities and such, clearly point to the need for an 'army' of infectious disease experts (IDE) to prevent, identify and report outbreaks. Such skilled personnel are scarce in Canada and a home-grown IDE 'army' will take considerable time to train.

Cuba has been training their own IDE since 2005 and are in a position to be able to send a Cuban health team as had been requested by the Manitoba Chiefs back on March 27. Your rapid March 30 rejection of this Manitoba First Nations' (F.N.) request was a political act, given that there was no time to consult with provincial and F.N. authorities and that the scientific evidence for how COVID-19 might affect indigenous populations was not being collected until well into April. Indigenous lives matter.

Once again we call on the federal government to reconsider it hasty rejection and invite a team of Cuban medical personnel (IDE) who could be an invaluable asset for our country as Canada prepares for an imminent 'second wave' of COVID-19.

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 35 teams of trained doctors, nurses and technicians (an estimated 3,000 medical personnel) to the global fight against Covid-19 on four continents.

This petition asks that your government move quickly to invite a Cuban health team to Canada so that they would be in place to provide their expertise (IDE) in the face of a likely resurgence of COVID-19 over the coming months.
Signed by over 1750 Canadians.

PS: Canadian academics backed by Canadian NGOs are in the process of Nominating the international work being done during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Cuban Health Teams for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

How it will be delivered

The petition text + signatures sent by ground mail to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's office on July 7, 2020 - emails of the petition sent to Prime Minister Trudeau and other key MPs in Ottawa.


Reasons for signing

  • cuban doctors the best
  • 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.
  • If cuba can help then let them. and make sure they get recognized like everyone else who helps in ending this


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