Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reform Conservatives Are Still Not Taking H1N1 Seriously

This is what happens when a government becomes so wrapped up in partisan advertising, trying to give the illusion that they are handling the economy, while a health crisis is on our doorstep. From the beginning, they gave us nothing, but instead played the blame game.

This is simply not good enough.

The Auditor General gave our Safety Minister and his department a failing grade on preparations for a pandemic. Big cheques and big egos took priority. And now look at the mess. Yet they still refuse to admit they did anything wrong and are simply not taking this seriously.

From CTV’s Question Period (after interviewing Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq):

JANE TABER: What did you take from the interview that Craig did with the Health Minister? What have we learned, anything?

GREG WESTON (Sun Media): I think the first thing that I was struck with, Jane, pardon the expression, is, I thought it was about as compassionate as a needle in the arm. You know here we have people who are standing in line for six, seven hours, being turned away, after months of being told that they had to get out and get the swine flu shot. Now we've had a couple of unfortunate deaths, parents who are understandably desperately worried about their kids, and they're being told that it's a jurisdictional issue, or they're being told, well, that's the provinces' responsibility, it's not the federal responsibility. I mean this is exactly what will make people throw things at their television, I think. You know, this is the worst side of government is a lack of compassion, when they get too locked up in process and they forget how do we help these people out there, and no government is answering that, and, frankly, the communications on this, as Craig pointed out on a few times, have just resulted in mass confusion and now panic.

Urgency from feds still lacking
Globe and Mail
November 3, 2009

The bumps in Canada's biggest-ever vaccination campaign that sparked an emergency debate in the House of Commons last night seemed inevitable. From the beginning of the H1N1 pandemic there has been a calm, verging at times on complacency, from federal officials. On top of that, jurisdictions overlap, making for a cacophony of voices. As a test of Canada's ability to handle a truly severe pandemic (which this one may yet become), it has raised serious questions.

The debate gives the opposition parties, and Parliament as a whole, a chance to express a sense of urgency about the outbreak. Too often the process of the past several months seemed mere spoon-feeding of the public at news conferences. The United States, by contrast, held a televised town hall session featuring governors, health officials, school leaders and President Barack Obama, at which anxious questions were raised in the open. Perhaps because the public was left out, public health officials were surprised by the demand for the vaccine – Toronto, the biggest city in the country, initially opened just two clinics for all the people most at risk from the disease.

Mr. Obama has daily briefings on the swine flu. His administration's handling of it is considered a major test of his leadership. In Ottawa, by comparison, Prime Minister Stephen Harper flubbed the question of whether he was going to be vaccinated. “If it's recommended,” he said, seemingly the last to know that it was recommended, and that the entire country was waiting on the regulatory t's and i's to be crossed and dotted.

It is not farfetched that a more severe pandemic will come along some day, perhaps soon. Peter Doherty, a Nobel Laureate immunologist from Australia, said when he was in Canada last week that he is surprised, given that great numbers of animals and people live in close proximity in some parts of the world, there haven't been more pandemics (Dr. Doherty thought the world may be doing something right in surveillance and prevention).

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq insisted in the House yesterday afternoon that the vaccine was ready “two weeks ahead of schedule.” In fact, some Canadian children have died in the past week and yet the vaccine isn't ready yet for children, except those under 5. In these circumstances, Canadians have a right to demand more from government, and last night's debate is a step toward that accountability.

Tories slammed for bad decisions, poor communications on H1N1 vaccine

A Timeline

Do you think the government mishandled the swine flu vaccination process?

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