The Covid Response

In these early days of the Covid pandemic in Canada my estimation is that our government has been doing the right things, taken the right tone, and made the right response. It has been a stellar example of good government.

I am relieved that we have competent even-handed people running the key instruments of public policy.

As the pandemic has progressed from a few cases in China to breakouts in Korea, Italy and Iran to widespread community contagion in the U.S., day after day sees evidence of a carefully considered emergency plan being rolled out in this country.

It has not just been a medical response. It has been a multilevel response.

When two presumptive cases hit our building, some of the earliest in the city, we had already taken the steps that we needed to ensure we could work online. Not just me – I’ve always been ready. But everybody.

When it began to look like people would be forced to stay home, immediate measures were taken to make sure they could collect unemployment insurance without delay. Finance minister Bill Morneau has been announcing progressive emergency financial aid packages.

A wave of panic buying on Friday barely dented our supply chains, as as people realized that the shelves weren’t going bare things quickly returned to normal. If you’re running your economy right at the limit of sustainability, that doesn’t happen, but we don’t do it that way in Canada.

Our Prime Minister is in isolation as his wife has the virus. He walks out, calmly delivers a press conference, still clearly on top of things, still clearly able to manage his responsibilities.

Our deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland has excelled, working with the provinces and various departments making sure everybody has the information they need and that everybody is working in the same direction.

Now this could change. The conservative opposition could prevail when the economic downturn really hits, convincing the government to cut back expenditures and remove the supports for workers both inside and outside of government. It could change as foreign-owned companies like Tim Horton’s apply foreign employment practices – no sick leave, no sick pay – on Canadian workers.

But for now, it has been the right response at the right time.

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