Thursday, July 30, 2020

If You Want a Scandal, Go For One That May Have Cost Lives.

When Pierre Poilievre and Warren Kinsella are chewing on the same bone it's time to look for something more engaging.  Is "We" the best they can come up with? Besides, we've got the making of a much bigger scandal, a true "life and death" screw up.

We know that Donald Trump stupidly dismantled his predecessor's pandemic response programme. Then, when Covid-19 arrived on America's shores, Trump let his "gut instincts" steer the US government's response and several tens of thousands of Americans paid for that with their lives.

Canada's auditor general is now exploring whether Justin Trudeau did much the same thing. Did the prime minister drop Canada's guard?
Sources close to the matter said the Auditor-General is planning to probe the government’s handling of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN, which was a central part of the country’s advance surveillance, early detection and risk-assessment capacity for outbreaks.

The Globe and Mail reported on Saturday that a key part of GPHIN’s function was effectively shut down last spring, amid changing government priorities that shifted analysts to other work. According to 10 years of documents obtained by The Globe, the system went silent on May 24 last year, after issuing more than 1,500 alerts over the past decade about potential outbreaks including MERS, H1N1, avian flu and Ebola.

Several past and present employees told The Globe that the government had grown wary of GPHIN’s mandate in recent years, believing it was too internationally focused, given that pandemic events were rare. Analysts were given domestic projects to focus on that didn’t involve global surveillance, and the operation’s early-warning capacity soon suffered. Over the past decade, doctors inside Public Health also began to fear their messages weren’t being heard, or understood, on important topics, the employees said, which affected Canada’s readiness for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Auditor-General is also planning to look at Canada’s risk assessments during the pandemic, which may have affected the speed and urgency of mitigation measures, such as border closings, airport shutdowns and the use of protective masks. Throughout January, February and into March, the government maintained the risk the virus posed to Canada was “Low,” even as evidence of human-to-human spread became increasingly evident around the world. Canada didn’t elevate its risk rating to “High” until March 16, nearly seven weeks after the WHO declared the global risk was high and urged countries to start preparing.
If you're hankering for a scandal, there's a dandy. A government that was unprepared, that left the country undefended, that was slow off the mark to respond. A government derelict in its most fundamental duty, its obligation to secure the lives of its people.


Toby said...

Also there is the appalling situation in nursing homes right across the country. All political parties have let us down.

Northern PoV said...

"If you're hankering for a scandal, there's a dandy. "

Hey, are we holding the bar too high?

It's not like Canada was a hotspot in the 2003 SARS crisis or anything like that.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Toby, nursing homes are primarily a provincial responsibility and, yes, most of them have failed their people. As I mentioned a few months ago, I first reported on this in Ottawa back in the mid-70s. It took soldiers from the Canadian Medical Corps to get anyone, including the public, to take notice but I fear we'll find that we have more urgent issues to worry about - WE, for example - and we'll let this slide into obscurity again.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Canada did amazingly well with SARS and we could have used the lessons learned and the policies and personnel we put in place to safeguard us when Covid-19 arrived. Except that the Libs had shut it down and dispersed the professionals to other jobs. A bad call? Sure. Does that mean we should give Mr. Trudeau and his government a pass? No, not at all.

Remember, even as Team Trudeau was dismantling our protection, there were plenty of experts including climate scientists who were warning of a succession of pandemics already in the barrels, locked and loaded. There was no reasonable justification for being caught unprepared.

thwap said...

Their job is to know these things. Stupid half-wits with all their "image management."

This is a huge scandal.

I'm ignoring WE. Get it over with. If there were mistakes, fix them. Stupid Conservatives pretending outrage.

Toby said...

Yes I know nursing homes are primarily a provincial responsibility. The problem crossed the country. That makes it a national problem. The collective failure hangs on all of them.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Thwap, I have a sense that these governments we elect lately focus on what concerns them rather than what imperils the Canadian public. I think that was captured when the government joined the NDP to proclaim Canada to be in a state of climate emergency and then, before 24 hours had passed, greenlighted the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. You can't write off that measure of perfidy to cognitive dissonance.

To save a few million the Trudeau government, for reasons not dissimilar to the Trump administration's, gutted the pandemic response unit, leaving Canada unprepared and costing us easily two invaluable months to make good what they had abandoned.

This neglect may well cost Trump a second term as president and deservedly so.