Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole greets his children Jack and Mollie on the tarmac in Montreal on Friday, September 3, 2021. Canadians will vote in a federal election Sept. 20th. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Singh says Trudeau ‘laissez-faire’ with provinces on COVID-19 on Day 21 of campaign

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused the Trudeau Liberal government of taking a hands-off approach with the provinces by not doing enough to encourage people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Singh levelled the accusation against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Day 21 of the federal election campaign, which saw him and his Conservative opponent stumping for votes on opposite sides of the country.

“We have always said that the federal government has not played its role to provide national leadership with the changes in each province,” Singh said Saturday in St. John’s, N.L., where he was making an announcement on how his party would improve dental care.

“It’s a global pandemic. It’s a national pandemic. It impacts the entire country, so the approach of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been a little laissez-faire, too much washing the hands, saying: ‘It’s not my responsibility. I have done one thing, the rest is the responsibility of the provinces.’”

Singh called for a national plan to provide provinces and territories with more support.

The NDP leader was to travel to Halifax later in the day.

Trudeau’s Saturday itinerary was marked as private.

On Friday, Trudeau once again faced attacks from political rivals for calling the Sept. 20 election during the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau said on Friday that a re-elected Liberal government would certify the various provincial vaccine passports for international travel but said that would be an interim measure. He said it could take a year for the government to get a federal system in place because it would need to work with provinces, which are responsible for health care.

Trudeau has said a re-elected Liberal government would give $1 billion to the provinces to create their own vaccine passports for domestic use.

Since Trudeau called the election three weeks ago, daily case counts have risen. On Thursday, the average daily number of new cases over the previous week stood at 3,500, up from 2,900 a week earlier and just over 700 at the beginning of August.

New modelling released Friday by the Public Health Agency of Canada said the country could see more than 15,000 new cases a day by October, with transmission rates ramping up through to the Sept. 20 election.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was expected to make an announcement in Coquitlam, B.C. on Saturday before heading to Nanaimo, B.C., for an event with supporters.

On Friday, O’Toole accused Trudeau of forcing the summer campaign for his own personal interest in a bid to secure a majority mandate.