The news that effective COVID-19 vaccines are in development has given us all hope that 2021 will include a return to relative normalcy. It is our light at the end of the tunnel.
But let’s be realistic about what it will take to reach that milestone. There are tremendous obstacles we must overcome first. We need to focus on the task at hand — regain control, support our most vulnerable and come together like never before.
As I write this from Atlantic Canada — where the regional bubble that proved so effective has now burst — COVID-19 cases are rising everywhere. It’s a national crisis. And across the country, physicians and all health workers are working tirelessly to care for patients and keep our health care system running.
It has become abundantly clear that we need greater collaboration and a new kind of leadership from all levels of governments.
Today, I met with federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu to discuss Canada’s approach to rising case numbers, stressing the need for aggressive suppression and containment measures to protect our health care system — and save countless lives.
As a country, we have already paid too high a price during this pandemic. But it is important that we rely on what we know works to get us to the finish line. We are recommending three areas of focus:
- Regaining control: It is time to use more stringent and sustained measures to suppress and contain COVID-19 transmissions, and target communities where numbers are rising. Once case numbers are under control, we can ease restrictions in conjunction with testing, tracing and isolation. Many people are suffering from pandemic fatigue, but we must find ways to convince Canadians and governments to remain vigilant and follow public health recommendations.
- Support for vulnerable people: Last spring, we learned the hard way how COVID-19 can devastate our most vulnerable populations. We need all Canadians to have access to essential social supports to physically distance and self-isolate, especially as we move into winter months. We also need immediate emergency support measures for residents in long-term care facilities.
- Nationwide collaboration: We know that businesses and families are hurting due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. But we have no other choice than to leverage the tools available to get ahead of the virus and ensure our recovery. Last spring, we worked together to flatten the curve, proving that a united strategy is effective against COVID-19.
It’s time that we come together as a country. And we look to our federal government to lead the way in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments. Time for everyone to focus on overcoming this hurdle. Only when we achieve this will we be able to focus on our recovery. And we will do that together as well.
Dr. Ann Collins, CMA President