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Report says federal pandemic warning system a failure, should be privatized

The report said employees spent hours just compiling daily roundup of news clippings, “a time-consuming process that leaves little space for additional activities.”

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Canada’s early pandemic warning system run by the Public Health agency is such a mess it should be partly privatized, says a government report.

Blacklock’s Reporter said Health Minister Patricia Hajdu did not comment on findings from Global Public Health Intelligence Network Independent Review Panel Final Report that staff spent most of their time compiling news clippings.

“It is critical that the lessons learned from our response to the pandemic help improve the tools in place to protect Canadians,” Hajdu said in a statement, which did not address specific conclusions of the report.

The Intelligence Network maintains a staff of 12, spending more than a million a year on salaries. Total costs in the past decade were $48.5 million, though staff underplayed COVID-19 and insisted the public health risk was “low” until the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The report said Network employees spent hours just compiling daily roundup of news clippings, “a time-consuming process that leaves little space for additional activities.”

None of the staff were epidemiologists, though “the surveillance function at the Public Health Agency has been a core priority since its creation in 2004,” wrote the panel.

“It is not always clear who is responsible. There is a case to be made for outsourcing if only because of government’s relatively poor track record in adopting new technologies.”

Cabinet advisors said while public health monitoring “is a fundamental responsibility of government and the Public Health Agency in particular,” the private sector appeared more capable of collecting data.

“As such we believe the Network should not be outsourced in its entirety,” said the report.

“There is no question private sector companies are using and deploying vastly more powerful tools than ever before, and in some cases the federal government is not equipped to do the same.”

Federal agencies “cannot expect to operate entirely alone,” they said.

The report followed a 2020 commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that recommended Parliament privatize the warehousing of medical supplies due to Public Health Agency mismanagement of a national stockpile.

The doctors’ group recommended new managers run the system on a commercial basis to “keep stockpile warehouses full and sell supplies to hospitals, private clinics and long-term facilities for routine use, thereby keeping stocks fresh and ensuring adequate supply for emergency responses.”

Records show the Public Health Agency threw away 8,839,942 masks, gloves and other pandemic supplies to save $900,000 a year on warehouse costs, then reported a critical shortage following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Left Coast

    July 13, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    No one in their right mind would put a Graphic Artist in charge of Canada’s Ministry of Health.
    Had the Govt done absolutely nothing they would have had a better outcome . . . like Fauci said in an Email in April 2020 . . . This is likely a bad flu season.

    COVID-19 lockdowns caused more deaths instead of reducing them, study finds.

    Those who pushed ‘shelter in place’ policies share the blame, but everyone feels the consequences.

    The pathologies of the lockdowns are clear and have been both predicted and recorded. They include increased risk of preventable deaths from cancer, heart disease, etc., as well as psychological trauma, resulting in increased homicides, accidents and suicidal ideations, caused by long periods of isolation.

    What is less clear is whether the lockdowns served any useful medical purpose.

    Fortunately, two researchers at the RAND Corporation and two researchers from the University of Southern California have done an analysis of the medical value of the lockdowns (which they refer to as “sheltering in place,” or SIP, policies). They looked at 43 countries and all of the states in the union, and published their assessment in June as a working paper of the National Bureau for Economic Research.
    Shelter-in-place orders didn’t save lives during the pandemic, research paper concludes.

    The RAND/USC team is unsparingly direct: “[W]e fail to find that SIP policies saved lives. To the contrary, we find a positive association between SIP policies and excess deaths. We find that following the implementation of SIP policies, excess mortality increases.”

    So, the lockdowns didn’t reduce the number of deaths, failed to prevent any excess deaths, and in fact resulted in increased deaths.

    Additionally, countries that locked their citizens in their homes were experiencing declining — not increasing — excess mortality prior to lockdowns. In other words, lockdowns probably made the situation worse.

    “We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies.”

    So, the duration of the lockdowns made no difference.

    The simple fact is that COVID-19 was and is a highly infectious respiratory disease to which everyone is eventually going be exposed either naturally or through vaccines. The disease tends to kill older people and those with preexisting respiratory challenges or who are obese.

    The RAND/USC study makes it clear that all the lockdowns accomplished was to add personal, psychological and economic devastation to the terrible personal and societal toll of illness and death.

    https://www.washingtontimes.Com/news/2021/jun/30/covid-19-lockdowns-caused-more-deaths-instead-of-r/

  2. Steven

    July 13, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    The BIGGIST Failure of the Pandemic was the Liberal Government. PM Trudeau’s protection of Canada’s borders was like a leaky boat; ineffective.

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Road closures as British Columbians brace for more rain

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday.

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As BC braces for additional rain, the government has ‘proactively’ closed a number of highways for travel.

“We are actively responding, monitoring and assessing the many highway closures due to flooding and will continue to do so as we work with local and emergency service partners,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Safety is our top priority while we deal with a rapidly changing and difficult situation.”

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday. The ministry said the time and duration of the closures will be weather-dependent.

“The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk,” said the ministry in a press release.

“The closures of these three highways will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning, with the highways reopened when it is safe to do so.”

The release said Highway 1 will be closed between Popkum and Hope on Saturday afternoon as BC Hydro plans a reservoir release, “crucial to protect the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also being affected by the heavy rains.”

The release explains the reservoir release will discharge water towards areas of Highway 1 that were affected during the November 14 storm.  

“This additional flow – combined with the increased precipitation and already high stream flows – poses a risk of impact to Highway 1 in the Laidlaw area.”

The ministry is bracing for further damage to Highway 1 in this area and said the reopening time cannot be determined at this stage but will be assessed by crews “when it is safe to do so.”

Highway 7 between Mission and Hope remains open with travel restrictions in place. Essential purposes for travel are defined in the travel restrictions order through the Emergency Program Act

Weather statements are in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Squamish to Whistler and the Sunshine Coast into next week. Storms are expected to bring more rain which has resulted in high streamflow advisories for all regions of the coast by the River Forecast Centre.

Ongoing road and travel updates are available on the ministry’s website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Bill to aid jurors traumatized by testimony up for vote … again

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling.”

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For the third time in three years, legislators will attempt to pass an aid bill for jurors traumatized by graphic testimony in criminal courts.

“When we ask citizens to be a juror we don’t ask them to be a victim,” said Quebec Senator and bill sponsor Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

“There is no excuse not to adopt that bill.” 

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling,” said Blacklock’s Reporter.

Two identical bills, S-207 and C-417, lapsed in the last two Parliaments.

“That kind of bill should be a government bill, not a private bill,” said Boisvenu.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of private interest. It’s a matter of national interest.”

In 2017, the Commons justice committee recommended the Criminal Code amendment after hearing testimony from former jurors who said they quit jobs, suffered marriage breakdown and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being compelled to watch crime scene videos and hear testimony from coroners.

“Everyone’s mental health matters,” Ontario Senator Lucie Moncion said Thursday.

“Yet from a legal point of view, jurors are part of a special category of people who are denied complete health care. The secrecy rule prohibits a juror from disclosing information related to deliberations to anyone including a health care professional. This needs to change.”

Moncion was a juror in a 1989 murder trial and said the experience left her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“They show you the whole autopsy,” said Moncion.

“It was very difficult. This is still very difficult for me.”

Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the 2017 Commons justice committee that recommended reforms, said delays were inexcusable.

“It should have been a no-brainer for the government to have brought this bill forward,” said Cooper indicating the bill has been “studied thoroughly.”

“There have literally been no arguments tendered against this piece of legislation.”

Cooper, in 2019, sponsored a similar bill – C-417 – that lapsed. MPs at the time noted U.S. jurors were free to discuss their experience with friends, family, psychiatrists or media.

“In the United States once a trial is over jurors are generally free to discuss the events of the trial and jury deliberations unless a specific court order bars them from doing so,” said Ontario Liberal MP Arif Virani, then-parliamentary secretary for justice.

“What that means is that jurors in the United States can talk with nearly anyone about juror deliberations including a talk show host on national television or across the Internet. This approach, which offers limited protection for juror privacy, is significantly different from the Canadian model.”

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Lock-down ignoring party host arrested again in Vancouver

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD.

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A man arrested by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) earlier this year for running a “makeshift nightclub” from his downtown penthouse has been convicted of new charges.

Mohammad Movassaghi was initially sentenced to 18 months probation in April, along with 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty in BC provincial court on counts of violating a public health order and selling liquor.

The 43-year-old man hosted hundreds of party-goers to his 1,100 square-foot penthouse near Richards Street and Georgia Street, equipped with cash machines, menus, and doormen.

VPD officers arrived at one of the parties on January 31 after a “witness” reported the event. One of the alleged doormen was issued several fines, however Movassaghi refused to open the door and was defiant with police. Officers returned early Sunday morning with a search warrant and subsequently issued over $17,000 in fines for violations contrary to the Emergency Program Act.

Large quantities of cash were seized as well.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison, following the January 31 arrest.

“If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic, and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail.”

Of Addisons’ top concerns was the fact that “none of them were wearing masks.”

A GoFundMe was set up shortly after Movassaghi’s arrest, which stated he’d lost $15,000 in cash and liquor.

The campaign was shut down before it reached $300.

Judge Ellen Gordon compared Movassaghi’s actions with those of a drug dealer, specifically fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Her logic being COVID-19 can kill people, and so can fentanyl. Therefore there is “no difference.”

“What you did, sir, is comparable to individuals who sell fentanyl to the individuals on the street who die every day. There’s no difference. You voluntarily assumed a risk that could kill people in the midst of a pandemic,” said Gordon.

Fast forward to August and Movassaghi had violated the court orders again when he began hosting more parties in his penthouse, prompting a second VPD investigation leading to his arrest on Wednesday night.

He has since plead guilty of two counts of failure to comply with an order of the health officer and one count of selling liquor, says VPD.

Movassaghi has now been sentenced to 29 days in custody, 12 months of probation, and a $10,000 fine — leaving many wondering if he will switch up the location for his next party, possibly somewhere more discreet.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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