Op-Eds

The sharp escalation of COVID-19 cases this fall has highlighted the problem of governments’ extensive reliance on emergency powers and far-reaching orders that limit activities. Their “acute crisis” approach reflects an undue focus on vaccines as the dominant near-term solution to the pandemic. It neither recognizes nor addresses the uncertain timeline and other major challenges until safe and effective vaccines are available, well distributed, and sufficiently taken up. Despite the very encouraging recent progress on vaccine development, vaccine-centric policies have led to serious weaknesses in government communications and inadequate resources to deal with the current resurgence. It has made the re-imposition of tough restrictions...
The long-awaited ruling in the Cambie case, Dr. Brian Day’s challenge to British Columbia’s Medicare Protection Act, has upheld the rules that effectively bar private provision of publicly covered medical services. But it does not say whether suppressing privately funded care, as the act seeks to do, is good policy. It is not. Absent some degree of competition from private care, the Canadian health-care system will continue to be both expensive and mediocre in comparison with those in peer countries other than the United States. Like the courts in the 2002 Chaoulli case, the judge in this case found that long wait times for care could be considered inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantee of “the right to security...
Reopening locked-down economies is not easy. Because governments did the locking down, governments are key to the reopening. How Ontario’s government manages it, given the province’s demographic and economic weight, will have consequences across the country. Ontarians and Canadians could do better if Ontario followed the example of other jurisdictions and published a clearer and more comprehensive reopening plan. Where can Ontario look for ideas? Its immediate Canadian neighbours, Manitoba and Quebec, are not very helpful examples. Manitoba reopened earlier but it never had a per capita caseload anything like Ontario’s. Quebec still has a worse caseload and had to backtrack on relatively aggressive early reopening plans when its numbers...
With encouraging signs on the COVID-19 health front, and mounting evidence of the costs of containing it, attention has shifted to the world’s economies. This is a global pandemic, and many countries have begun to reopen on their own terms. Here in Canada, governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have announced plans for lifting some constraints. What can we learn from progress elsewhere? Many jurisdictions we would like to imitate – Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong – are in a class of their own. They imposed targeted travel checks and restrictions early, built capacity exceeding ours to test for exposure to the virus or produce protective equipment, and implemented electronic monitoring or tracing...
“Our business is at an inflection point. We can continue down the path we’ve been on … or we can make the significant and difficult changes necessary, ” said Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors CEO to The Globe and Mail recently, and so it may be with health care after COVID-19. Many crises have been predicted to produce lasting changes to society’s status quo ante, changes subsequently proven minimal to ephemeral, as Andrew Coyne recently noted his column in The Globe. It is just possible, however, likely even, that some long-advocated changes to health care’s organizational structure and ways of working will have been shown to be so effective that they will remain imbedded in the “new normal” when the...