Dr. Courtney Howard, is an emergency physician. She's also president of the Canadian Association of Physicians. Not surprisingly she's been run off her feet trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. She doesn't think much of the Trudeau government's bailout of the fossil energy sector.
When I first read about the possibility of a multibillion-dollar bailout of the oil and gas sector by the federal and Alberta governments, I was exhausted.
I was exhausted from days of ER work, personal protective equipment drills, obsessive counting of ventilators and considering how to encourage Canadians to have courageous conversations around end-of-life care. I was too exhausted to even think about responding.
That was precisely the point. Oil and gas companies, lobbyists and the decision makers they have formed relationships with are counting on Canadians being too occupied coping with an ongoing health crisis to register that our country is considering a massive transfer of public funds to support the very industry most likely to cause the next health crisis. And the health crisis after that. And the health crisis after that.Howard sees a Canada that is failing our future generations.
UNICEF, the WHO and the Lancet created an index of “child flourishing,” where Canada ranked 21st out of 180 countries in support for present-day child health, but 170th in terms of sustainability, making us one of the wealthy countries that “threaten every child’s future through climate change.”
Our current crisis highlights the need to take planetary health, defined by the Lancet as the “health of human civilization and the state of the natural systems upon which it depends,” into account. The virus of zoonotic origin currently bringing the globe to a near-standstill transferred into humans due to a lack of care at the interface between humanity and the rest of the natural world.
Pre-COVID-19, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report emphasized that the majority of major risks facing the world in terms of both impact and probability have to do with this intersection — they were right.
The only possible positive outcome of this tragedy is a generational pivot: For us to rise to the COVID-19 challenge with courage and unity, learn all we can and surge into a post-pandemic world committed to preventing further crises and bolstering resilience to any that may occur. Knowing that only about 20 per cent of overall health status is determined by health care, this means pushing for measures that make life outside of the hospital stable, clean and equitable.