Premier Andrew Furey poses for a picture outside Woodward Aviation Hangar at the St. John’s Airport awaiting the departure of the second team of medical professionals who left St. John’s, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, en route to Brampton Ont. to assist with caring for COVID-19 patients. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Premier Andrew Furey poses for a picture outside Woodward Aviation Hangar at the St. John’s Airport awaiting the departure of the second team of medical professionals who left St. John’s, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, en route to Brampton Ont. to assist with caring for COVID-19 patients. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Newfoundland sends team to help Alberta battle COVID-19

Fort McMurray home to thousands of people originally from the eastern province

Premier Andrew Furey says he’s happy Newfoundland and Labrador will be sending a small team of health-care workers to Alberta, a province closely linked with his own.

Furey tweeted his thanks Friday to the health-care workers in Newfoundland and Labrador who have volunteered to head out to the northern Alberta town of Fort McMurray to help the western province tackle the fourth wave of COVID-19.

“Our provinces are tightly knit, and we are happy to help,” Furey wrote. He said the province will send five or six workers, adding that his government was still working out the details of the trip.

The news came just days after Furey told reporters Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had said “stand down” to his offer of help for the COVID-19-stricken province. A spokesperson for Furey’s office on Friday said Kenney reached out shortly after to ask for help in Fort McMurray.

Many people in Newfoundland and Labrador fly to Alberta for work in the oilsands near Fort McMurray, and the town is home to thousands of people originally from the eastern province.

“I really want to thank my colleague Premier Andrew Furey for reaching out to us earlier in September to offer the same kind of assistance that Newfoundland and Labrador provided to Ontario in the spring,” Kenney told reporters on Thursday.

“As he joked with me, Fort McMurray is Newfoundland’s second-largest city.”

Newfoundland and Labrador sent a contingent of health-care workers — including Furey’s wife, Dr. Allison Furey — to help Ontario battle its third wave of COVID-19 last spring.

Kenney said Thursday there were 247 COVID-19 patients in intensive care in Alberta, adding that about 83 per cent of the province’s intensive care capacity was in use. The team from Newfoundland and Labrador would be joined by members of the Canadian Armed Forces in an effort to expand Alberta’s intensive care capabilities, he said.

Alberta reported 1,706 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 20,255 active infections across the province.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador reported 41 new cases on Friday, as well as the province’s ninth and tenth deaths due to the disease.

—Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

RELATED: ‘It’s really scary’: Alberta physicians face more aggressive, misinformed patients

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