Op-Eds

Vaccines are giving everyone hope that the COVID-19 global pandemic may soon allow us to return to our normal lives. That hope has been tempered by frustrations about vaccine rollout and fear of mutating variants and so almost all parts of the country remain in some kind of lockdown. But what strategy should we follow on lockdowns to get us through to what we hope is full inoculation? What we need is a tool that considers both health and the economy, not the false dichotomy that we must choose one over the other. Research we have conducted for a C.D. Howe Institute paper using an epidemiological-economic model provides important insights to help guide us until a vaccine is widely available. The results we present below show...
Of all the COVID-inspired clichés of 2020, “we can’t go back to how we were before” gets my vote for most trying. Taken literally, it is empty. We can’t undo the deaths, restore students’ lost instruction, give young people the first jobs they didn’t get, erase the huge debts, enjoy the travel and human contact that didn’t happen. No, we can’t go back to 2019 — which is too bad. Taken as an exhortation — “we shouldn’t go back to how we were before” — it is too often a prelude to magical thinking, a great leap to some environmental, economic or political nirvana previously out of reach. That is silly. A sick person who was never an athlete can dream of completing a triathlon. But their first task is to recover. In the same way, post-...
One very big silver lining to 2020 was the dramatic uptake in the use of virtual health care in Canada. During the first wave of the pandemic over 70 per cent of outpatient care was delivered virtually. Before COVID-19, speaking to a family doctor about a new health problem, simply getting a prescription renewal or having a visit with a specialist required most Canadians to take time off work, travel to their local clinic or hospital and sit in a waiting room for upwards of an hour or more. But now doctors can bill for virtual visits and Canadians can receive medical care from the comfort of their own home. As the second wave crests, and hospitals are once again filling up with COVID patients, providing care to other patients while...
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...