The per capita boast (II)

by Aaron Wherry

It has now been two weeks since Leona Aglukkaq’s office was asked to provide evidence to support the claim that Canada had the highest per capita supply of H1N1 vaccine. Such evidence has not yet been provided.

In the three sessions of Question Period since the Liberal opposition asserted this claim to be incorrect, the government has avoided making a specific per capita claim to this country’s vaccine supply. The closest Ms. Aglukkaq has come to the assertion was in this exchange last Friday.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about the H1N1 flu pandemic. Australia, not Canada, has the highest per capita vaccination rate because its program began more than two months earlier than ours. Canada was not the quickest out of the starting gate as the U.S. and the United Kingdom were vaccinating long before we were. Even China started seven weeks before us. How will the Conservatives make up for lost time?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, Australia has vaccinated close to one million people out of a total population of 22 million. Canada has vaccinated more Canadians over the last two weeks than any other country in the world on a population basis.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, the story is always changing. Let us look at the figures. The Public Health Agency of Canada has left $50 million of the allocated budget on the table, unspent. For infectious disease prevention and control, $17 million is unused. For health promotion, $17 million has not been spent. In addition $3.5 million for emergency preparedness has never been used. Why did the Conservatives not allow the agency to use all these available resources?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, our government has invested over $1 billion in the pandemic plan and we are investing more. We have purchased the vaccine for Canada. We will continue to support the Public Health Agency in the delivery and the rollout of the pandemic plan.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the only thing Canadians have more of per capita is partisan sloganeering and wasteful signs. This is about putting needles in arms, not about pointing fingers and blame. The real problem is that the priorities are all wrong. Infections will peak by the end of this month, 40% fewer than the promised vaccines have been delivered and $50 million have been left on the table. Why not support more clinics? Why not more public health nurses? Why not help for our shut-ins? Would Canadians not have been much safer if only a fraction of the energy put into the blue waste campaign had been dedicated to leading a truly national pandemic response?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, by the end of next week, over 8.5 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine will have been delivered to the provinces and territories. There is enough vaccine available for all priority groups and all Canadians. Canada currently has more H1N1 vaccine available for Canadians than any other country in the world has for its own population make-up.

 




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The per capita boast (II)

  1. If she wasn't holding a well-paid and prestigious position that ultimately is supposed to be in control and accountable for this situation, I'd feel sorry for Aglukkaq.

    But she is, and I don't. It's a mess. Pity because traditionally, Canadians really care about their healthcare delivery. Used to be a priority. Now it's just about partisan politics. We all will pay for it in the long run.

    • The delivery of healthcare is the responsibility of the provinces.

      Go talk to your provincial minister if you have complaints.

      • This is somewhat off-topic, but I think the lack of attention we pay to our provincial governments is problematic. In the US it is even worse – people really only think of national issues, although their states have a great deal of authority to tackle bread and butter issues. A friend of mine was teaching a class of high school students, and asked them where/who they would lobby if they wanted to build a park. The students all said "the President".

        • I will continue your off topic-ness and trump you. I am amazed how people completely ignore their municipal representatives even though they probably have the most involvement with our day to day lives. People care about municipal issues a great deal but expect their Fed MP to take care of everything. I went canvassing one time for a wannabe MP and I was amazed at the questions they get asked: 'what are you going to do about the teens at the skateboard park who make so much noise' or 'what are you going to do about cig butts that litter the sidewalk around the corner shop I use …..' .

          • I absolutely agree. It's a shame municipal politics aren't more highly regarded, since that's where the rubber really hits the road for so much government activity.

            Huh – so perhaps I could practice what I preach and shift my attention from federal politics. Naah ;)

      • Drug approval and ordering is a federal responsibility, bud.

        And we can't talk to our federal minister of health or our Prime Minister if we have complaints because they don't care and, like you, are more interested in passing the buck.

      • In a practical sense both levels of government work very closely together on health care.

  2. "Putting needles in arms"? Seriously, is that the best your speechwriters could do, McGuinty? Way to conjure images of heroin addicts in my head.

    How about "delivering health care to those who need it most", or "protecting the public" if you prefer alliteration?

    And, um, wouldn't Australia have started its vaccination program prior to Canada because, I don't know, their winter flu season started…months ago?

    • While that doesn't really relate to the issue of the different waves of the virus that don't correspond to winter flu seasons necessarily, I'll let that go and ask how that explains away the US, UK, Japan and China all getting their programs going well before Canada?

      • It doesn't really, I'm taking issue with that particular choice of example. My understanding of the flu virus (any flu virus) was that it's more difficult to control in wintertime (more time spent indoors, compromised immune systems due to cold and all that) thus necessitating vaccination prior to the worst of winter – which would mean that Australia and other southern hemisphere nations would have required the vaccine more imminently than we.

        That being said, I agree – if countries with comparable public health systems (British NHS) or even privately-managed systems (US) are one-upping our own, I'd like to know how that happened, when we purport to having one of the most exemplary systems in the world.

    • Well, perhaps they would have if the vaccine existed at the time.

  3. What is all the panic about anyway? Hasn't it been proved that H1N1 is no more deadly then the seasonal flu?

    The only question is who is trying harder to keep the fear and spin going, the Liberals or the media.

    • Or those idiots in anaphylactic shock from the very well-tested and safe vaccine. Grandstanders just vying for media attention, right?

      • There was more than ONE case of anaphylactic shock 'suspected' of causing the death of a Canadian?

      • LOL LOL LOL.

        You seriously just said that?

        Do you know how many people are allergic to peanuts, eggs, fish? And everything else under the sun?

        The vaccine is made in a chicken egg and the adjujunt has sardine oil in it. If people are allergic to those things they should NOT get the vaccine.

  4. Wherry and his Liberal buddies will continue to scour the earth for proof that maybe San Marino has a higher vaccination rate per capita. They'll crow all morning, to a nation that says, "shut up already".

    • Sorry, but when important people assert things without any evidence, it behooves the rest of us to be critical. Otherwise, they'll get away with anything, which is what they're always trying to do.

      • it behooves the rest of us…

        Don't be hooved… The "Boast" that Wherry is so horribly offended by, is what's more properly known as a response to idiotic partisan attacks by people with no legitimate complaints. If the most per capita response turns out to be inaccurate – by a margin of one – it's not scandalous, or dishonest, or incompetant or even very remarkable (except, apparently, in the mind of Mr. Wherry and 20-30 other Liberal hysterics in the nation).

        If Ms. Aglukkuk is forced to conceed that Canada has only the second best record in the world, I wonder if Wherry and his like-minded screechers are prepared to conceed that they've been making unmitigated asses of themselves for the past three weeks?

        • So you're saying that if – if – our Minister of Health has lied to Parliament, it's the Liberals' fault.

          Funny how that works.

  5. "Canada has vaccinated more Canadians…"

    jeez. I would hope so.

    • We are very fortunate the H1N1 had not been more lethal otherwise many more Canadians would have died because there was no way the majority of people would have been vaccinated in time. At 2 million doses per week being produced before the slowdown, it would have taken 6 months (till the end of Apr 2010 since vaccine rollout was in third week of Oct) to produce 50 million doses. No surprise that if everyone wants a vaccine, there will not be enough until about Feb — just elementary school math.

      Perhaps the AG should investigate why the Cons govt was so insistent on keeping to a single sourced supplier despite the 10 year contract signed by the Libs not preventing Canada from going to an additional supplier during a pandemic (this had already been admitted by Dr. Butler Jones).

      Was the reason politics (blame it on the previous govt) or was it something else (go figure)?

  6. Not to take the easy shot or anything, but when the conservatives count Canada's population they don't count women, city dwellers or ridings that don't go tory. So on that basis it's hard NOT to have the highest per capita. :)

  7. Funny how conservatives

    a) blame Chrétien's deal with GSK

    b) assert that Canada has been able to vaccinate a higher percentage of its population than other countries by now

    Something doesn't add up. If Canada has indeed been able to vaccinate more of citizens, and faster, doesn't that make the GSK deal a good thing?

  8. And yet another Wherry post on a subject over 1/2 of Canadians think is exaggerated,
    and 65% of Canadians blame the media for the exaggeration…
    (boring subject illustrated by only 17 comments, move on guys)

    H1N1 a 'dud' pandemic, Ont. health official says

    '53 per cent said the level of concern about swine flu is exaggerated, considering the real risks involved with the virus.'

    'A HarrisDecima poll released this week suggests that most Canadians think their governments have done at least a fair job of handling the pandemic,
    while two thirds believe the news media have overblown the crisis.'

  9. No TJ, what I'm saying (and it's right there for you to check against your interpretation) is that: if the Minister of Health was mistaken, she was mistaken. It would do her some credit to admit to that mistake – if she made it – but whether she does or not, I will still fail to condemn her as a bald-faced liar on the basis of histrionics and ridiculous hyperbole.

    The fact that politicians are professional idiots doesn't require that we join in their idiocy as amateurs.

  10. Suppressed Medical Records (File 5100-13465/001)

    St. Catharines, Ontario

    - Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Sect. 25,26,28)

    - C.M.H.A / C.A.M.H. – Brock University

    Further details Google:

    Medicine_Gone_Bad

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