July 28th, 2020
Liberals made cuts to early warning system just months before COVID-19 pandemic
VANCOUVER - The Federal Liberal government made significant cuts and reduced the international monitoring function of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) just months before the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving Canada vulnerable and preventative action slow to roll out.
“This was an incredibly irresponsible decision,” said NDP Health Critic Don Davies. “For decades, this early warning system proved its worth and flagged threats before contagions got out of control. There is no question that it would have detected the SARS-CoV-2 virus earlier. Yet the Liberals decided that this was unnecessary.
“This decision is incomprehensible, and cost thousands of Canadians their lives.”
GPHIN was a group of specialized doctors and epidemiologists who gathered intelligence and detected the threats of pandemics early, before they escalated to a crisis level, so that our government and other countries could respond rapidly to public health emergencies.
“It is profoundly disturbing to learn that the Liberals essentially switched off the international monitoring of public health threats seven months before this pandemic hit,” said Davies. “By weakening GPHIN, Canada lost precious, valuable time to prepare. They failed in their primary duty to protect our citizens.”
The government’s decision to limit the scope of international investigation was a significant failure which slowed Canada’s response to the pandemic.
“We could have had PPE more readily available. We could have limited the spread of the virus. We could have made sure that long-term care homes had the capacity to deal with this,” said Davies. “The list of ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ is endless."
“The Liberals need to explain to Canadians how and why they made this stunning decision.”