Conservative mishandling of H1N1 response risks Canadians’ health
OTTAWA – The Canadian Medical Association Journal has confirmed what Liberals have been saying from the start of the H1N1 outbreak – the Harper government is failing to properly protect the health and safety of Canadians, Liberal MPs said today.“Stephen Harper and his Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq have ignored our warnings about this pandemic, and as a result Canada is not ready to meet the predicted second wave of H1N1,” said Liberal Health Critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal wrote that the government’s delay in ordering the H1N1 vaccine means that Canadians won’t have access to it until well after the expected second wave of the flu sets in – which could be too late for high-risk patients like pregnant women.
“What good is a vaccine if it comes too late to help people?” said Liberal MP Marc Garneau. “The government needs to fast-track delivery of the vaccine to priority groups before H1N1 hits.
“And even after months of pressure from all sides, we heard yesterday how the government still doesn’t have the safeguards in place in Aboriginal communities that have been hardest hit by H1N1.”
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron Evans, who has been asking for help from the federal government for months, said yesterday that he has little confidence First Nations are properly prepped for H1N1.
“This announcement by the government yesterday of a new batch of federally-funded nursing stations and health clinics for Manitoba’s First Nations won’t even be ready in time for this fall,” said Mr. Garneau.
Last week, Liberals held a conference call with several groups representing health professionals, and they made it quite clear that those on the frontlines of H1N1 protection have been completely shut out by this government during the entire pandemic preparedness process, as well as any evaluation of the response to date.
“This is just completely unacceptable, and it’s just one reason why we can no longer support this government,” said Dr. Bennett. “Just as he failed to protect the health of Canadians with his neglect of the medical isotope shortage, Stephen Harper is once again failing to defend public health with regard to H1N1. We can do better.”