Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that his government is sending 10 million Canadian dollars ( ₹60 crore) to India to help with the purchase of ambulances and PPE kits, among other items, in New Delhi’s fight against a record surge in Covid-19 cases.
The funds are being provided to the Canadian Red Cross, which will transfer it to the Indian Red Cross Society.
Trudeau said on Tuesday, “It’s something the Canadians are extremely concerned about as we see the terrible and tragic images coming out of India. We know we have to be there for our friends.”
It came after Canada’s foreign minister Marc Garneau spoke to India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday to offer Ottawa’s assistance during the escalating crisis.
“We are there to support in any way we can, and those conversations are very much ongoing,” Trudeau said.
Also, there is package of physical materials being worked on, which will include oxygen concentrators, ventilators and pharma products from Canada’s emergency stockpile as Ottawa has assured India during a dialogue between the governments of its solidarity and commitment to render all aid possible.
Those conversations are continuing as Canada’s public services and procurement minister Anita Anand said she, along with Garneau and international development minister Karina Gould, were “coordinating to ensure that we are mounting as much assistance as possible”.
Anand said she had spoken with Canada’s high commissioner in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, and his Indian counterpart in Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria, to “ascertain the precise supplies that are needed in India and how best Canada can support the needs that India clearly has and that we clearly want to lend a hand with”.
Gould meanwhile said, “Canada stands with the people of India as they go through these difficult times. This funding will help meet some of the most urgent medical needs like purchasing and distributing essential supplies as well as supporting vital blood and ambulance services.”
As the Canadian government steps forward, community groups have been active in organising relief material and support for India. The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) has started an awareness campaign to point donors to organisations so engaged.
ICCC president Vijay Thomas issued an appeal to the chamber’s members and stakeholders, informing them of the medicines and medical equipment urgently needed in India. It has identified charitable organisations functioning in the Indo-Canada corridor.
One group, Vraj Community Services, has announced a drive in collaboration with South Asian Health Network to send oxygen generators with a capacity over eight litres each for distribution through Indian partners and NGOs to hospitals in the worst-hit areas.
ICCC members have contributed towards purchasing 100 such generators. TiE Toronto has sent 100 oxygen concentrators, due to reach India on Wednesday, for distribution to tier two and tier three cities.
The Freedom from Poverty Trust is providing oxygen cylinders for free to those in Lucknow that can’t afford them. Its founder, Montreal-based Shivendra Dwivedi, said that working with their partner, Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, Maharashtra, they have converted a hospital being jointly run there into a dedicated Covid-19 facility and is treating 92 patients admitted there.