Just an update on the Covid response here in Canada and some personal thoughts. In western Canada, if a decisive and effective response was what was necessary, well, I suggest that we did as well as anywhere. All one needs to do, from a wholly Canadian perspective, is look south across our border and see the general chaos that seems to be prevailing there.
Having said that, I believe Canada was caught flat-footed at the federal level through bureaucratic complacency. I retired from the federal government, but for my last ten years in their employ, one of my key responsibilities was to develop a range of (Regional) responses to the disasters of the day for my department (Coast Guard/Fisheries and Oceans).. We certainly had plans in the day (SARS, Avian bird flu, earthquake, regional flooding) but in my experience it takes a deep commitment both politically and from day-to-day action and a deliberate focus for these plans and preparations to have any positive impact.
Here in Canada, there still is no ‘plan’ all these months later. No real plan exists as yet to target those groups most at risk and certainly no plan to map out a financial recovery. All that our various governments are doing are throwing money at the problem, largely as direct financial aid to individual Canadians. Billions and billions of dollars hot off the printing presses. In my view, that is not how we get out of this mess. It has reached the stage where tens of thousands of jobs are staying unfilled because a certain element of our society are finding it easier and just as financially secure to stay home and take the free money.
I wrote Chris on this subject a few weeks ago and he suggested that I share my thoughts with you. I have not had anyone in my personal network come down with Covid as yet, and am therefore not directly impacted, but I am concerned about the most vulnerable in our country, the aged and infirm.
My 93 year old mother-in-law has dementia and is living in an extended care home. I have had trouble calling it a ‘care home’. Given the restraints placed upon these places here they are warehouses where they keep old people under virtual 24/7 isolation. There is near total sensory deprivation. These folks are confined to their rooms. There is no interaction, even with the staff, except in a world of face masks and gowns. What have we done? This is absolute cruelty at any level. Our old folks are our heritage and should be our pride and joy and yet we have imprisoned them. What for? What about trying to treat these folks with the respect and dignity that they deserve. In many cases, I suggest that the Covid took some of our dear old folks only hours or days, perhaps, before they would have succumbed anyway to their existing ailments. There is a very broad range of illness and diseases that take us away, as all of you very well know.
Is Covid-19 supposed to be the show stopper that freezes an entire planet? What about the hundreds of thousands of surgeries and other procedures that were cancelled? What if there is a Covid-20, 21, 22? Is our world supposed to become virtually paralyzed on each occasion?
I suggest, folks, that there needs to be an ethical debate on this Covid-19 crisis, as it pertains to the lives of people on this planet at all ages, and most certainly on the impact to other positive and proactive initiatives that could or should be going on around the world. I know for a fact that monies by generous citizens to the charities of their choice have been significantly reduced here in Canada. These unintended consequences should not BE unintended consequences. Pandemic planning has been around for a very long time.
So, going forward, are we going to be a little less complacent and cavalier about these types of events that do and will arise? Should any of you choose to work in the field in disaster planning. perhaps YOU will be that champion that is always needed to drive these initiatives forward!