Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Premiers of Canadian provinces, leaders to raise Covid-19 funds for India

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Premiers of Canadian provinces, mayors of cities and other leaders from across the country will join over 80 Indo-Canadian organisations for a major “oxygen” fundraiser next Sunday for procuring and sending critical equipment required in India to combat the raging Covid-19 crisis there.

The virtual fund-raiser will be held on May 16 and among those who have confirmed their participation are the premiers of the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan, Doug Ford and Scott Moe, respectively. Also on board are the mayors of Brampton and Mississauga, Patrick Brown and Bonnie Crombie.

The event is being coordinated by the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce or ICCC, and it has partnered with 82 other community organisation for the Marathon – Oxygen for India fund-raiser, which is scheduled to go on for four-and-a-half hours.

Vijay Thomas, president of ICCC, said that their target is to raise $ 2 million Canadian dollars at least, to purchase oxygen concentrators and generators to be dispatched to India.

Thomas said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several federal cabinet ministers have also been invited to participate in the fundraiser, though their confirmations are still awaited. “We have also invited every premier from coast-to-coast and hope to get 50 Canadian leaders to join us,” he said.

The objective is to “raise awareness among Canadians at large about the situation on India and that Canada stands by India just as India stood by Canada when it needed vaccines”, he said.

With its partner organisations, ICCC has already bought 2,000 oxygen concentrators so far, of which 200 have already reached India, and 1,500 are in transit, while the remainder are being processed.

“We are looking at oxygen generators for small and mid-size hospitals to power beds and have them reach as quickly as possible since time is of essence,” Thomas said.

To fashion “as wide an alliance as possible” for this purpose, ICCC is working with Indian associations across cities like Montreal and Vancouver, and community groups dedicated to regions or states like those for Haryana, Rajasthan and Goa, among others.

While the Indo-Canadian community makes these efforts, the Canadian government has sent 25,000 vials of the anti-viral remdesivir as well as 50 ventilators to India, with another 300 ventilators likely to leave Canada soon.

In addition, the federal government has provided $10 million Canadian dollars to the Canadian Red Cross, which is working with the Indian Red Cross Society.

Provincial governments have also stepped in to help. Ontario shipped off 3,000 ventilators on Friday, as the province’s premier Doug Ford tweeted, “I am very proud to help our friends in need.”

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