Self-satisfaction that contributed to Canada’s lack of readiness in the event of COVID: Health economist


According to health economists, Canada’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic was slow to get going, primarily due to self-satisfaction and the focus of federal bureaucrats on optics for matter.

Libio di Matteo, a professor of economics at Lakehead University, said the Canadian system, which was developed to warn of early outbreaks of infectious diseases, was quietly deactivated before the pandemic. I will. Besides, sProtective tok piles were allowed to diminish, and when the pandemic broke out, the country was “terribly unprepared.”

“”Canada was hit by SARS Around 2004, with many other countries. And with SARS, Canada was very worried. They have done a lot of reporting and research and have begun to take steps to deal with future pandemics, such as stockpiling health supplies, “Di Matteo said in an interview.

“But something seems to have happened from 2007 to 2008 to the present, part of which may have been the lack of a major public health crisis since SARS …. After all, the government is weird. Being a creature, I think it was complacent. “

He states that several other countries are in a similar situation and are “very happy” because they successfully survived the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and kept Ebola away.

“To some extent, politicians have begun to believe that we can escape future pandemics, but it turns out that they are not,” he said.

“So much of what happened is a kind of complacency, a kind of conscientious negligence, but some of them are bureaucrats who focus more on brand, image and communication rather than the actual substance of public health. I think it’s like a tendency of principle. “

Epoch Times Photo
Lakehead University Professor Livio Di Matteo (courtesy of Livio Di Matteo)

In the spring of 2020, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), Canada’s pandemic alert system, was disabled in May 2019, removing the ability of Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) analysts to trigger alerts. The news was announced.

An independent review of GPHIN was commissioned by the government last year after some PHAC scientists said the early warning of COVID-19 was ignored.

Released on July 12 Subsequent report By Panel consisting of 3 members I found thatIn particular, the authority of analysts to issue alerts was removed in 2019. It required approval by the PHAC Vice President to issue the alert. The panel wrote that the change “has caused serious pain to the team, especially as management at the time gave no further instructions on how to perform this core function.”

Panel findings correspond to reports published by Karen Hogan Audit & Supervisory Board Member “After this change, the number of alerts has dropped significantly,” he said in March. In 2019 and 2020, only two alerts were issued. The monthly average from 2015 to 2018 has decreased significantly from 1 to 2.

The Panel noted that GPHIN began publishing a daily report on the COVID-19 virus in late December 2019. In the daily report on December 31, 2019 A link to an article describing the outbreak of unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China. However, unlike alerts, daily reports were sent to federal, state, and territory partners only within Canada, not to international GPHIN subscribers.

The panel also highlighted the issue of Chief Health Surveillance Officer, an important position that has been left vacant since 2017, and the lack of this role is why surveillance activities have not been well coordinated in the last few years. Pointed out that it is one of. COVID-19 for a pandemic.

The Panel recommends a stand-alone risk assessment office that can obtain both monitoring from GPHIN and information from the Canadian security and intelligence community to quickly determine the level of risk and what can and should be done against it. Did. GPHIN also suggested that it could benefit from private partnerships to improve its technology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would consider the recommendations proposed in the report.

“We will be very careful not only with respect to that particular sector or institution, but in fact how we can move forward across the government to prepare for a future pandemic,” Trudeau said in July. Said. 13.13.

Conservative health critic Michelle Lempel Garner called the findings “hurting” and the report “again shows that the liberal government was not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.” Stated.

Di Matteo said that dealing with a pandemic “needs consistent and sustainable efforts,” and that countries such as Singapore and Taiwan that have experienced SARS remained vigilant during that time.

“I think we should have done better, especially since we were originally one of the SARS-affected countries. And if we look at some other SARS-affected countries, , Much more vigilant after SARS, with significantly lower mortality and COVID-19 incidence, “he said.

“In the future, the most important lesson of a pandemic is to learn from it, so it’s important for federal and state-level governments to learn lessons and not get caught with their pants down.”

With files from Canadian Press