By: Lynn Desjardins
Canada’s doctors are tired and exhausted, and urgently worried about the health care system, said Dr. Ann Collins, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “Clearly, what’s happening is not working,” she said in a telephone interview. “Case numbers are so high that testing and tracing cannot be done.”
While Canada flattened the curve on infections during the summer months of June, July and August, the country is now in the grips of a second wave with alarming spikes in infection rates occurring particularly in the western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as Ontario.
Doctors are concerned that if people sick and dying of COVID-19 infection flood the hospitals, other services will close down or diminish.
Politicians must put aside their differences, says doctor
“COVID knows no boundaries, knows no political stripes,” said Collins. “It’s time for politicians to put aside their differences and devise a unified strategy to protect Canadians.”
In Canada, health care falls under the jurisdiction of individual provinces and territories. There has been wide variation in the measures each have taken to combat the rate of infection and there have been very different results.
Yesterday, the auditor of Ontario called that province’s response to the pandemic “disorganized and inconsistent.” Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk added concern that the province’s Medical Officer of Health had not been leading the response. The premier of Ontario rejected the criticism out of hand.
Today, Collins urged all politicians to listen to and follow the recommendations of their public health officials. She noted that the science on COVID-19 changes, that public health officials follow those changes and are best placed to advise politicians. “There needs to be more collaboration at all levels,” said Collins.
Vulnerable people need more support, say doctors
Collins added that it is time to use more stringent and sustained measures to suppress and contain transmission of the virus and to target communities where numbers are increasing.
The CMA has drawn attention to vulnerable people who need more support. This includes the homeless, those who live in high density housing and residents of long-term care homes. Collins said there need to be places where people can isolate safely and stay warm in this cold, Canadian winter. More support and tougher action to contain the virus is needed immediately, said Collins.
‘It’s now. We can’t wait any longer’
“It’s now. We can’t wait any longer. We need to double down on measures, to get ahead of the virus. That’s not only for government but for Canadians too. We need to stay home and remember that this virus is deadly for some.”
The Canadian Medical Association represents Canada’s medical profession and includes doctors, residents and medical students.