When COVID-19 hit, the Trudeau government wasn’t ready. Caught unprepared, they made bad decisions that put lives at risk and crippled our economy.
It didn’t have to be this way.
Canada has faced pandemics before. In recent memory we were confronted with SARS and H1N1. Each time, we learned lessons and prepared for future pandemics.
Tragically, the Trudeau government undid much of that preparation. Pandemic preparedness was not their priority and they cut funding for key programs. They shut down the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, our pandemic early warning system. They let the National Microbiology Laboratory decline and then depleted Canada’s PPE stockpile. They fought with the pharmaceutical industry, and stacked the Public Health Agency with bureaucrats – not scientists.
Canada’s Conservatives will implement a Canada Emergency Preparedness Plan. The Plan will be measured and updated annually, including by incorporating the findings of the inquiry.
- Addressing the Threat Posed by Animal Markets and Trade in Wild Animals
- Support and encourage the closure of poorly-regulated wildlife markets globally that carry an elevated risk of becoming sources for future pandemics;
- End the importation of and trade in wild or exotic animals and their products that carry an elevated risk of spreading zoonotic diseases.
- Prohibiting the export of deadly viruses to jurisdictions that cannot be trusted.
- The government will create a list of these countries that are subject to the export prohibition based on a national security assessment.
Detecting and assessing threats
- Public Health Intelligence
- Overhaul Canada’s public health intelligence gathering systems, including restoring the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) shut down by the Liberal government and strengthen the sharing of public health intelligence across the federal government and with the provinces and territories.
- Establish a threat level warning system that uses data points and sources from our overhauled public health intelligence gathering systems to assign risk levels from a scale of 1-5 for Canadians when a new virus is detected.
- Overhaul the federal government’s disastrous risk communications infrastructure, including developing trusted mechanisms for communicating the real threat to Canadians of novel and emerging pathogens and rapidly changing information.
Countering the threat
- Scientific leadership
- Assign ultimate responsibility for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to a qualified physician – public health expert with field and front line experience;
- Establish a set of actions corresponding to each level of risk in our new threat level warning system, including but not limited to when border measures will be implemented, when travel should be restricted, and data-sharing requirements across jurisdictions.
- Develop a data-driven system of benchmarks for removing bans, restrictions, and quarantines to provide certainty to businesses and their populations.
- Ensure adequate enforcement of these actions is undertaken and that monitoring both internationally and domestically is consistent and ongoing.
- Restore the dual leadership role of the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, within the Public Health Agency of Canada, so that infectious disease science and expertise drives our domestic pandemic response and Canada once again is a global pandemic leader; and
- Overhaul Canada’s Pandemic Plan and preparedness to include a focus on infectious diseases and bioterrorism threats rather than solely on “influenza”, which led to Ottawa’s slow response and mishandling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- Maintain access security and stringent screening protocols for scientists granted access to the Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
- Strengthening Health Canada
- Strengthen the department to ensure it can rapidly review crucial innovations like new tests, treatments, and vaccines. With new variants on the horizon, we can’t afford the same bureaucratic pace as in the past.
- Partner with the private sector rather than over-rely on government. We will appreciate that there are some things best done by the private sector and be faster to reach out for help.
- Work with the provinces to harmonize ICU training to ensure that ICU credentials are transferable among jurisdictions so that that capacity can be bolstered in emergencies.