Real threats: Canada’s doctors demand accountability for handling of pandemic

Canada’s chief publc health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu

When the head of the organization representing Canada’s doctors asks the federal government to explain why the country was so ill-prepared for the Wuhan virus pandemic, it goes to the heart of the crisis we currently face – the lack of accountability.

“I am trying to understand the government’s response today because I think everyone was caught flat-footed,” said Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “The front line is telling us over and over that they are not prepared and they are scared. We are hearing it from everywhere.”

What puzzles Buchman is the fact that the government was warned years ago that we would likely be faced with a pandemic of this magnitude and ferocity years ago.

After all, it’s not as if we haven’t gone through these pandemics before. In 2003 we had dealt with the deadly SARS outbreak.

That rattled health care policy makers and eventually led to a study being done by none other than Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.

In her 2006 document, Tam describes an outbreak that was eerily similar to the current pandemic and outlined in great detail what was needed.

Four years later, of course, nothing had been done and a 2010 audit showed the government and the health system was ill prepared.

This being government still nothing was done.

Fast forward to January 2020 and health officials are confronted with news of a novel corona virus that is deadly and what does everyone do?

Well, nothing.

In fact, Tam said the threat of a major outbreak in Canada was very low and that measures such as travel restrictions weren’t needed.

“Canada’s risk is much, much lower than that of many countries,” Dr. Tam told MPs in Ottawa on Jan. 29, a month after the government was alerted to the outbreak at a market in Wuhan, China. This was four days after a man had arrived in Toronto from Wuhan and became the country’s first case of the disease, reported the Globe and Mail.

“It’s going to be rare,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how few those cases are, we are preparing the whole country in the event that you might pick up a rare case.”

It boggles the mind.

The very person who should have been jumping up and down, screaming to her political masters to shut down air travel to and from China was blithely saying don’t worry, we got this under control.

Yeah right.

I’m firmly convinced that people like Tam – she wasn’t the only health officials to ignore the immediate threat – only understand threats in the abstract.

So faced with a real threat, they are paralyzed. They are trying to process the threat through the lens of data because that it is what they know and understand.

The rest of us are not so sanguine. We hear about people dropping in the streets from a disease that we’ve never seen before, our immediate reaction is to keep anyone in contact with that poor son of a bitch away.

It’s a survival instinct. It’s why kids all puke when when one kid starts barfing.

Our immediate response was to shut down air travel – quarantine China.

Tam even warned in her 2006 study that widespread air travel would spread her imaginary disease everywhere.

Having failed to do that, the only other recourse was to deal with the inevitable spread here.

Here, too, though we were woefully unprepared. Stocks of masks were severely depleted, ditto ventilators. Protocols to protect the most vulnerable were non-existent.

It was all because politicians didn’t take the threat seriously. They had other things on their mind.

They were paying attention to the thousands of morons marching in the streets to protest the imaginary threat of climate change.

They were paying attention to the LGBTQ crowd seeking washroom justice.

They were paying attention to the liberal milquetoasts who saw white supremacists everywhere they looked.

In other words, they cared more about votes than actually doing their jobs.

Fake threats are easy to deal with; real ones not so much.

There is, for example, a very good chance we will be hit with another Carrington event (look it up) that will bring down our electrical grids for months and even years.

Are we hardening our grids and computer systems? No.

There is a very real and current threat posed by Chinese espionage and imperialism. Are we doing anything about it? No.

There are real threats out there – everything from large earthquakes to massive floods – those need addressing.

We need politicians with common sense. We need to trust our gut a little more often.

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