Quarantine Is Over

Our mandatory quarantine, accompanied by the government’s threat to levy a fine of up to one million dollars and/or three years in jail for non-compliance, has ended. Lorraine and I are not showing any symptoms.

Out of an abundance of caution, we spent our last two weeks in Florida practicing social distancing and remaining mostly within our coach. The only time that one of us left our resort was to get groceries.

We wanted to ensure that we did not have any symptoms prior to returning to Canada. And when we decided to leave Florida early, we drove straight home without any delay.

We made arrangements to be in a location where we are far removed from anyone.

And we did this to do our part to help flatten the curve.

What now? What changes after this?

We currently have no home for our coach although we are optimistic that the government may allow us to occupy our site for the season. The first order of business will be to reposition ourselves whenever our site becomes available. If not, our wonderful friends at our dealership have told us not to worry. We can remain here for as long as needed.

We will follow the government’s request to stay home and only go out when needed. As a retired couple, that is the single best way for us to make a difference during this pandemic. We will continue to play the role that we are being asked to play as laid out by our public health services:

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, all Canadians are advised to:

  • stay at home unless you have to go to work
  • talk to your employer about working at home if possible
  • avoid all non-essential trips in your community
  • do not gather in groups
  • limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health
  • go outside to exercise but stay close to home
  • if you leave your home, always keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others
  • household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick or have travelled in the last 14 days

You can go for a walk if you:

  • have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days
  • If you go out for a walk, do not congregate and always practise physical (social) distancing by keeping at least 2 metres apart from others at all times.

Beyond that, there is little else to plan. The suspension of civil liberties will continue for several months. We are not even certain if we will be able to return to Florida in November. All of our travel plans for the next six months are irrelevant.

I’ve been asked about my reaction to the suspension of civil liberties. I’m not happy about it and I do have a concern when the state moves to suspend civil liberties.

Contained within the Canadian Charter of Rights:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

And:

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

I understand why the state has taken certain actions. We are doing are part to follow the advice of the state.

During my career, I was a senior executive and decision-maker in business. Failure to plan and failure to execute inevitability led to termination of employment. It appears to be somewhat different for senior political leaders. The electorate will vote them out however very few are ever held to account for a failure to plan and a failure to execute.

I’ve read through several dozen government reports on Pandemic Preparation dating all the way back to 2006. The government of Canada committed $1 Billion to implement a Pandemic Preparedness Strategic Research Initiative. The mandate of which is described below:

The PPSRI is a component of the Government of Canada’s Avian Influenza and Pandemic Influenza (AI/PI) Preparedness Strategy, announced in May 2006. Aiming to improve Canada’s ability to respond effectively to pandemics and other public health emergencies, the Federal Government committed a total of $1 billion over five years through the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, and CIHR. With the overall goals of reducing illness deaths and societal disruption as a result of an influenza pandemic, the AI/PI Preparedness Strategy’s specific objectives are:

• To support research that will contribute to evidence-based decision making;
• To ensure that safe and effective vaccine/antivirals are available on a timely basis to all Canadians in the event of a pandemic, including the development of a mock vaccine and build regulatory capacity in this regard;

The Canadian government had developed a series of highly detailed playbooks for dealing with a pandemic and yet, when COVID-19 arrived, our senior political leaders did not follow those playbooks in a timely fashion.

Although I applaud many of the government actions of late, the extent to which the current administration floundered on this file is shocking. Downplaying the threat repeatedly as low risk. Failing to ensure appropriate stockpiles of medical equipment. Failing to act promptly on basic containment protocols.

Playbooks are used when scenarios become real. The government, for whatever reason, chose to ignore their own playbooks until it became clear that the threat was not just present, but severe.

The Globe and Mail published a detailed report on this very topic this morning. It is well worth a read:

Long before COVID-19 emerged, top health authorities from across Canada put together a playbook to prepare for a situation strikingly similar to the one the country now finds itself in.

One of the co-authors of that report was Theresa Tam, now Canada’s chief public health officer in charge of the fight against the novel coronavirus.

According to doctors who worked on the 2006 document, which was based on a hypothetical, highly contagious outbreak of influenza, the urgency of the report faded over time, though the threat never did. It is one of several credible warnings that seem to have gone largely unheeded.

A 2010 federal audit flagged problems with the management of Canada’s emergency stockpile of medical equipment; a 2018 assessment of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak a decade earlier raised concerns about ventilator shortages; and a 2019 study led by a team of global scientists questioned the ability of many countries, including Canada to prevent, detect, and respond to a major outbreak.

Leadership, whether in business or government, is a particularly challenging role especially when there is a crisis.

I hope our political leaders make good decisions on this file as the crisis continues to unfold. They certainly had done enough planning to be ready for a pandemic.

Lorraine and I are happy to be out of quarantine.

First day out of quarantine and it is snowing.

Lorraine will make a grocery store run.

I will mix another song for the online Easter service at our church.

Life continues.

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