“Why do I feel guilty? “: People call on other provinces for rapid COVID-19 tests


Troy Weppler says he turned away from a Saskatoon post office worker as he put a box of COVID-19 rapid tests in an envelope to send to his family in British Columbia.

“Why do I feel so guilty for doing this?” Am I breaking any laws or is it just an ethical thing? Weppler said recalling the time during the holiday season when he felt like an outlaw.

“Everywhere I go I get tests, so why can’t I put a few in an envelope and mail them to my family?”

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Weppler isn’t the only person in Saskatchewan responding to requests from families across the country for the much sought-after tests. Walk into libraries, fire stations, and some grocery stores and a smiling worker will likely offer a kit with five tests in it.

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Weppler got his first box a few weeks ago when he went to cash a lottery ticket. The employee told him he won $ 20 and a free game, then handed him the kit.

This is confusing for most people elsewhere in Canada where the demand for testing far exceeds the supply. Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole compared the situation to the “Hunger Games” movies earlier this week.

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Federal government promises 140 million rapid tests in weeks amid high demand

Federal government promises 140 million rapid tests in weeks amid high demand

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said 140 million tests will be distributed to provinces and territories on a per capita basis this month. He said it would allow every Canadian to have one test per week in January.

But many wonder if the increased supply will make a difference in being able to find rapid tests since each province, so far, has distributed them differently.

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Ontario’s contextual model for rapid testing has been widely criticized. British Columbia’s provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry had to assure residents earlier this week that tests were not piling up after growing public frustration.

Demand only increased with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, and with many provinces limiting standard molecular laboratory testing to certain groups.

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“Why can they get them in… grocery stores in Saskatchewan and why can’t you get them here? Scott Forbes asked.

The University of Winnipeg biology professor has a son who lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He came home for the holiday season and had mild cold symptoms, Forbes said.

Forbes said his son went for a lab test in Winnipeg and stood in line for more than four hours. The family had heard that results could be delayed for up to a week. The rapid tests were nowhere to be found.

“He knew he wouldn’t get the test results for a while… so he called his girlfriend to ship quick tests from Moose Jaw,” Forbes said.

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“She just picked them up at the grocery store and we got them the next day.”

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Forbes said her son tested negative and his symptoms were quickly gone. He still has not received the results of the lab test.

The Saskatchewan government said this week that it has distributed more than 12 million tests to about 600 sites. About 3.7 million of these were sent to communities through public distribution networks, including libraries and fire stations, as of November.

Manitoba received 4.9 million tests from the federal government in 2021, significantly fewer than its neighbors.

Federal figures as of Dec. 17 indicate that nearly 3.4 million people have visited British Columbia.

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Saskatchewan officials said they received more tests from Ottawa because they were asking for more.

Forbessaid, he wonders why other provincial governments haven’t done the same.

Ontario expected to receive 15.5 million rapid tests from the federal government in December, but only 3.4 million arrived, said Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford, in an email.

“The federal government has confirmed that it will not provide the… 12 million remaining tests,” Yelich said.

Ontario has so far received about 34.2 million tests from the federal government, she added. The province alone has also obtained nearly 20.8 million tests. It has deployed around 55 million tests since the start of the pandemic.

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Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, said he was optimistic Saskatchewan will continue to have an abundance of rapid tests despite the federal government reporting that the public will play a larger role in distribution.

The province expects four million tests in January and again in February, he added.

In Saskatoon, Weppler said if that was the case, he would consider making another clandestine trip to the post office to help his family elsewhere.

“It’s nice to be able to take this test.

– with files from Mickey Djuric from The Canadian Press to Regina

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