Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is putting out a "call to arms" to get U.S. vaccines over the border and into Manitoban arms.
"Like many border provinces, Manitoba and North Dakota have really strong ties," Pallister says in a Saturday morning press conference where he discussed a need for a greater amount of vaccine shipments to Manitoba.
"The United States has millions of vaccines in freezers," Pallister says. "They need to be in arms in Canada. This is a call to arms."
Pallister says he has been informed that 100,000 Manitobans could be vaccinated in the next 10 days should vaccines from the United States be shared with the province.
Referencing the growing number of truck drivers who have been vaccinated in North Dakota, Pallister issued a call for vaccines in the United States to be shipped to Canada.
"The best solution is not to have Canadians going over the border for vaccines in small numbers," Pallister says.
"We have trucks with freezers ready to go to points in the United States within a few hours ... we could be vaccinating Manitobans tomorrow."
Pallister says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is supportive of cooperation between states and provinces to facilitate the vaccination of more Canadians against COVID-19.
The premier says Trudeau is also supportive of Manitoba receiving additional staff to assist with vaccinations and assistance from Statistics Canada with continued contact tracing.
"The more vaccines we have, the better," Pallister says. "Vaccines are the key."
Yesterday, the Manitoba premier announced shipping reductions were limiting the amount of COVID-19 vaccines coming into the province.
Sunday vaccine appointments are currently not available to Manitobans but Pallister says the keeping of current vaccine appointments is a top priority to continue to see Manitobans vaccinated with doses that are currently available.
"We have people here waiting and we need those vaccines up here," Pallister says.
Pallister says United States president Joe Biden is declining to send vaccine shipments from American states to their neighbouring Canadian provinces. No current agreement is in place that would stipulate such an arrangement between Canada and the United States.
"I say, let's go, Joe (Biden)," Pallister says. "The right answer is yes. We need your help and we need it now.
"I'm asking for the United States and the White House, in particular, to get out of the way."
Earlier this week, Manitoba began sending patients to parts of Ontario for medical treatment due to COVID-19's significant strain on the province's health care resources.
"Manitoba's been the first to offer help to other parts of the country and the world," Pallister says. "Now, our hour of need is here.
"We must make sure the border is used to keep covid out but it's never used to keep a vaccine out."
NDP opposition leader Wab Kinew responded to Pallister's comments following the 11 a.m. press conference, saying there were of "no substance" and calling the conference a "Saturday morning stunt.
"How does attacking President Joe Biden help us put one more nurse at the bedside of an intensive care unit patient today?" Kinew says.
The opposition leader says he would have rather heard updates on the latest COVID-19 case numbers in the province and the number of Manitobans who have been sent out of province for ICU treatment to-date from the premier.