For the past, 18 months I have a received a steady flow of emails containing comments like “they’re doing the best they can” and “I’d like to see you do better” referring to my ongoing criticism of both levels of government as well as public health officials in how they’ve handled, or should I say mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic.
So without any further ado, here is a point-by-point synopsis of how things could have been handled differently.
1) Right from the get-go, the federal government should have created a Department of COVID Response within Health Canada and partnered with the provinces in creating a database of high-risk Canadians. This could have easily been done using existing Census and Canada Pension Plan data to identify and locate seniors as well as provincial medical records in locating individuals with autoimmune and other underlying health conditions.
In creating such a database, they could have shared that information with regional health units which in turn could have partnered with grassroots organizations such as community resource centres to make sure those most at risk are taken care of.
2) I sure as heck wouldn’t have put all our eggs in one basket in developing and procuring a vaccine as the Trudeau government did in trying to partner with the Chinese, especially when we have one of their most prominent business people sitting in detention awaiting deportation to the United States. It was the height of naiveté and set our vaccination program back by at least two months.
The Liberal government has done a pass-able job playing catch-up, thanks initially to the generosity of our neighbours to the south, but that doesn’t forgive them for their initial missteps.
3) Much more should have been done to protect seniors living in retirement resi-dences. They should have been shut own to non-essential visitors as soon as reports started coming out of Kirkland, Washington, about a major outbreak at the Life Care Centre seniors home in late February 2020, and most definitely after a similar outbreak occurred at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon just two weeks later.
In hindsight and looking forward, every nursing home in the country should be outfitted with a proper supply of PPEs and HAZMAT tents to be used by any visitors, including staff, to change into their PPE before entering the facility.
Consideration should also be given to establish isolation facilities for seniors exhib-iting symptoms in senior care facilities. This could be done by seconding hotel space left vacant by government shutdowns.
4) While the vaccine rollout in Ontario made sense for the most part in terms of who got vaccinated first, where it failed miserably was in not involving general practitioners and local family health teams. This is perhaps my biggest criticism of how the pandemic has been handled.
No one knows their patients better than the family doctor and no one can combat vaccine hesitancy better than the family doctor. Why they weren’t made a major part of the vaccination program in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada is one of the biggest mysteries of the pandemic response.
5) The province should have been more proactive in retrofitting school HVAC systems with adequate filtration. They’ve known since early on in the pandemic that COVID is an airborne disease more readily spread in closed environments with poor air circulation and filtration.
6) All international travelers should have to put up a $2,000-$3,000 bond when applying for a tourist visa and the money should be used to pay for their quarantine in a hotel for two weeks upon their arrival in Canada.
Finally, our political leaders and public health officials should be doing much more to promote public health initiatives in the short-term and before we’re ever faced with another pandemic. Physical education should be mandatory at all grade levels from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Tax credits should be reinstated for everything from minor sport registration to gym memberships.
And most importantly, the federal govern-ment needs to address our addiction to junk food. The most effective way to do that is to introduce a consumption tax and use the proceeds to fund a public information campaign on the importance of pursuing a healthy lifestyle to strengthening your immune system.
Taking all together, these measures would put us on a better footing to combat the next pandemic whenever that day comes.
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