(Ottawa, ON) — The pandemic, shifting demographics and decades of federal and provincial underfunding of our healthcare system by shortsighted Liberal and Conservative governments now threaten to unravel our public, single-payer healthcare system.
An ongoing rapid rise in cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), influenza, and COVID-19, especially among infants and young children, coincides with the lifting of masking requirements in public spaces and critically highlights the need for a rapid injection of federal funds into provincial healthcare systems, the Green Party of Canada said today.
"Wherever I travel across Canada, the health care crisis is top of mind. Lack of family doctors, the exodus of nurses from their profession, stress and exhaustion of front line workers require urgent attention. This is not the time for political gamesmanship. Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments must take their shared responsibility for health care as a sacred obligation," said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. "We urge the federal government to defend the Canada Health Act and enforce our single-payer, universal public health care system."
Investments in immediate response and long-term building of capacity of specialized health care professionals to join the Canadian Health workforce are urgently required. Hospitals and clinics throughout the country lack resources to cope with these ongoing outbreaks, not to mention long-term conditions, thereby creating extraordinary pressures on already exhausted health personnel throughout the country.
« Our healthcare system is like a giant with feet of clay that currently carries more than it can. With each cuts, Liberal and Conservative governments alike have weakened it, leaving it in a state of near-death, and then COVID hit, » said Jonathan Pedneault, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada. « The quickest way for us to give our health system a break is to lift some of the unnecessary weight it carries and the easiest way to do so is for our governments to realize that no matter their wishful thinking, the pandemic isn’t over. »
The dangers of COVID-19 have indeed not gone away, yet the lack of action for safety is showing, the Green Party of Canada said today, and the connection with RSV, influenza, and other potentially dangerous pathogenic infections cannot be overlooked. Moreover, the rise in cases of Long COVID is emerging as a chronic condition leading to disabilities.
As our healthcare systems shows critical signs of vulnerability, the federal government should work with the provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments to protect children and adults from COVID-19 and its long-term post-viral effects.
“I am deeply concerned that Canada continues to pursue an unsuccessful strategy for COVID-19 that places all the responsibility on the individual and ignores the reams of data and research demonstrating that best practice is to avoid COVID-19 infection and/or reinfection,” Dr Jennifer Purdy, the Green Party of Canada health critic, said. “ Children, parents, everyone in society is at risk of acute COVID-19 infection or post-acute infection consequences, as we are now seeing in the paediatric population. We all deserve better, and we deserve protection by our governments.”
None of this is unavoidable. There are multiple ways to protect Canadians and our health system from the continuing threat posed by COVID.
“We must conduct scientific studies to understand and address the twin dangers of RSV and COVID-19. The provision of care must be complemented by safety protocols, including the continuation of social distancing and the wearing of masks as preventative measures,” said Dr. Farrukh Chishtie, the Green Party of Canada’s emergency preparedness critic. “To prepare for present and future outbreaks, Health Canada should devise long-term plans, especially for vulnerable populations such as infants and young children. The suffering of those with Long COVID should also be duly recognized and proper support be provided to this population facing chronic conditions and disabilities.”
The pandemic has shown that one of the most efficient tools to reduce transmission is to provide people - especially those with immunodeficiency - with the means to avoid social contact when unnecessary. As such, Greens continue to call for a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) so that people can stay home when sick, or when a loved one including a child is sick.
In light of the continuing public health crisis, Greens also encourage the federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments to enact 15 days of sick leave. To mitigate the impacts on the economy, the federal government should also provide support to small businesses being affected by the ongoing pandemic.
In public spaces, the Green Party of Canada believes that masks should continue to be required, including for federal transportation (rail, air).
By Dr. Jennifer Purdy, Green Party of Canada Heath Critic and Dr. Farrukh Chishtie, Green Party of Canada Emergency Preparedness Co-Critic