Canada not ready for second wave of COVID-19, Senate committee says

Canada not ready for second wave of COVID-19, Senate committee says

OTTAWA — Canada is ill-prepared for a second wave of COVID-19, says a Senate committee, calling on the federal Liberals to deliver a plan by Labour Day to help people and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

Seniors, in particular, are a focus of the report from the Senate’s social affairs committee, from those in long-term care homes to those with low incomes.

Just this week, the Liberals rolled out one-time special payments of $300 to the more than six million people who receive old-age security, and $200 more for the 2.2 million who also receive the guaranteed income supplement.

The income supports are meant to help seniors facing increased costs as a result of the pandemic, such as more frequent prescription fees and delivery charges for groceries.

Senators on the committee wrote of evidence of “financial insecurity and increased vulnerability” for low-income seniors as a result of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.

A potential second wave, which could coincide with the annual flu season that starts in the fall, would make the situation even worse for these seniors “without concrete and timely government action,” the report says.

Senators say the Liberals should deliver a plan to help low-income seniors, among other populations vulnerable to economic shocks like new immigrants, no later than the end of August, and contain short- and long-term options.

The report also says the federal government needs to pay urgent attention to seniors in long-term care homes where outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic have been concentrated.

The document made public Thursday morning is the committee’s first set of observations on the government’s response to the pandemic, with a final report expected later this year.

Before then, the Liberals are planning to provide another economic update like the one delivered Wednesday, or possibly a full budget. The government shelved plans to deliver one at the end of March when the House of Commons went on extended hiatus due to the pandemic.

The long-awaited economic ”snapshot,” as the Liberals styled it, said federal spending is closing in on $600 billion this fiscal year. That means a deficit of $343 billion, fuelled by emergency pandemic aid that the government budgets at over $230 billion.

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada said the spending figures demand a ”full and transparent assessment” to see what worked, what didn’t and what needs to change for an economic recovery.

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the Liberals should take back up their promise to create a national pharmacare system as the government considers its next steps.

A federal advisory council last year calculated the cost of a program at over $15 billion annually, depending on its design.

“The last thing we want to have is Canadians in frail health as we’re dealing with this pandemic and I think the government really needs to think of that,” Yussuff said in an interview Wednesday.

“Had it not been for the health care system we have right now,” he added later, “think of how this country would have fared in this pandemic.”

The Senate committee’s report also notes the national emergency stockpile of personal protective gear like masks, gowns and gloves wasn’t managed well over the years, nor sufficiently stocked when the pandemic struck.

Committee members added concerns that military members could be deployed without sufficient personal protective equipment because of “inconsistencies from international procurement.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer mayor slams provincial plan to change 911 dispatch

Dispatch centres in Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Municipality of Wood Buffalo affected

Olds College releases non-native wasp to kill lily beetles

Lily growers in central and southern Alberta know the destruction lily beetles… Continue reading

Red Deer family relieved that Lebanese relatives are safe after explosion

Lebanese relatives live 45 minutes from blast and said it felt like an earthquake

Heat warning issued for Red Deer and region

A heat warning is in effect for Red Deer and much of… Continue reading

Red Deer tailor sets up a factory to begin producing PPE for health care and industry workers

Esmat Bayat is glad to give back to the country that sheltered him as a refugee

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Trump relying on October Surprise

An October Surprise in the United States is now almost inevitable, because… Continue reading

Lebanese confront devastation after massive Beirut explosion

BEIRUT — Residents of Beirut confronted a scene of utter devastation Wednesday,… Continue reading

David Marsden: Back-to-school plan makes sense

Albertans are wise to propose ways to improve students’ return to classrooms… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: 1971’s destructive hailstorm shattered a great summer

Alberta has been experiencing some interesting summer weather this year. Generally, there… Continue reading

Pete Hamill, legendary New York columnist, has died

NEW YORK — Pete Hamill, the self-taught, street-wise newspaper columnist whose love… Continue reading

Disney to release ‘Mulan’ on streaming service, for a price

“Mulan” is no longer headed for a major theatrical release. The Walt… Continue reading

Most Read