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

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

A 36-year-old Eckville pedophile  was sentenced to 18 years in prison and given a 10-year-long-term supervision order for abusing nearly a dozen children over a decade.
Black Press file photo
Updated: Central Alberta pedophile sentenced to 18 years in prison and declared long-term offender

Eckville man abused nearly a dozen children as young as two over nearly a decade

Businesses are getting creative to keep cash flowing. (File photo)
Central Albertan lobbying government to help those affected by CERB repayments

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

The newly built Parkland Regional Library Services. (Photo Submitted)
Parkland Regional Library system moves into new offices in Lacombe

“Someone with a Parkland Library card can borrow from 350 libraries in Alberta,” Ron Sheppard

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store water for fracking

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Most Read