Conservatives Call for Enhanced Capacity for COVID-19 Variant Surveillance, Risk Assessment, and Response
December 22, 2020
OTTAWA, ON – The Hon. Michelle Rempel Garner, Shadow Minister for Health, issued the following statement calling on the Trudeau Liberals to enhance capacity and transparency for COVID-19 variant surveillance, risk assessment, and response:
“Canadians are concerned about information coming out of the United Kingdom regarding the new variant of COVID-19.
“We currently have very little information about this new variant. While actions like banning flights from the United Kingdom have been taken, many questions remain around issues like potential exposure to the Canadian public, and vaccine and test efficacy.
“In observing the federal government’s response to this new variant, Conservatives are concerned that the federal government’s detection, risk assessment and decision-making process surrounding potential new variants of COVID-19 may not be wholly adequate. A lack of capacity to rapidly detect, assess risk, and clearly communicate action to the Canadian public could have very serious consequences for public health.
“Case in point; we know scientists in programs like the Canadian COVID-19 genomics network at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory are doing their best to track potential new variants here at home, but reports show that their capacity to do so is limited. Also, the status of Canada’s overall early pandemic warning system is unclear. This new variant started circulating in early fall; what decision making process did the federal government use in choosing to only begin to respond now? Did they not have data, and if so, why not?
“Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to immediately update Canadians on what action they’re taking to rapidly detect new variants of COVID-19 domestically and internationally, assess potential risk and impact to Canadians, assess the efficacy of tests and vaccines against new variants, report these findings to the public, and respond with policy action. If there are deficiencies in the government’s current capacity to do any of these things, we call on them to work across party lines to immediately correct them. This issue is too important to ignore.
“Conservatives will keep fighting for the health and safety of Canadians and for the certainty and clarity they deserve from their government.”
For more information:
Office of Hon. Michelle Rempel Garner, P.C., M.P.
Calgary Nose Hill