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About those body bags (II)


 

An official statement from Health Canada.

Health Canada apologizes for the error that was made in the number of body bags that were ordered for the Wasagamack First Nations. We regret the alarm that this incident has caused.

The Department is working with First Nations in the development of Pandemic Plans for their communities. In addition, our Nursing Stations are actively involved to ensure adequate provisions are in place.

The Department would like to provide some context to the concerns raised about pandemic preparedness in First Nations communities.

Health Canada delivers services in remote areas through Nursing Stations. We routinely stock commonly required medical materials such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies such as body bags.

These stocks are replenished on an as-needed basis. A location’s stock size is determined by several factors, including total population, utilization and geographic location. Another important consideration is that some of these communities are unreachable by road, water or air during the winter months. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to bring these supplies into some of these communities, should they become necessary.

It is unfortunate that this has been linked exclusively with H1N1. Whether it’s a nursing station in a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba, or a hospital in downtown Vancouver, supplies are constantly being re-stocked to prepare for unknown and unforeseen events, whether it be a plane crash, environmental disaster or pandemic.

Given the unknown severity of a potential outbreak, and the existing vulnerabilities of northern isolated communities, Manitoba region recently completed a re-stock of supplies for the upcoming three to four month period in a number of First Nations Communities in which we provide primary health care services. The number of bags sent to this community clearly does not correlate with the current scientific evidence that PHAC has provided with respect to the severity of illness that we expect to see in the fall.

Again, Health Canada apologises. We all regret the alarm caused by the stocking of this particular item. It is important to remember that our nurses are focussed entirely on providing primary health care services under often-trying circumstances. We value the excellent work they perform.


 

About those body bags (II)

  1. But it's still the Conservatives fault, right Wherry!

    God forbid the nurses be prepared for the worst! Ignatieff should demand that all body bags be returned to Ottawa, the dead should be burned instead.

    • A straight up press release report and you're going to accuse media bias?

      So.. at what point do you conclude that the media is not biased? Is it when they perform public fellatio of Harper and declare the results to be both delicious and energizing? Or is that too little as well?

      • You stay classy, Dakota. I can't believe I was censored for interjecting the Jaffer article yesterday, and you can spew crap like this.

        Sheesh, what a filthy thing to say. Why do you even come here to read if you're so provoked by it all?

      • When Wherry posts a press release that totally discredits the opposition parties' claims about something and makes them look ridiculous, and you decide it's time to accuse him of being wildly biased in favour of those opposition parties, it's officially time to see a psychotherapist.

        • Jack, I think the opposition parties said it was offensive, insensitive and the Minister should apologize.

          The Minister responded by saying it was offensive, insensitive and she got the bureaucrats to apologize.

          What "opposition parties' claims" have been discredited? How does this make them "look ridiculous"?

          • I don't take the Minister's statement or the apology as an indicator of whether the original attack was legitimate.

          • I don't take the Minister's statement or the apology as an indicator of whether the original attack was legitimate. The Minister can agree the sky is green for all I care.

          • Fine. But how does the press release discredit their claims or make them look ridiculous?

            If the Chiefs had come out and said "we aren't offended by this" instead of saying "this is really offensive" as they in fact did, I would agree that their claims would be discredited and they would look ridiculous.

            But the press release admits that the number of body bags far exceeds the number of deaths that could occur because of H1N1.

            So whether or not you think the First Nations and the Health Minister (who is Inuit herself) and the opposition parties should be offended and are ridiculous, I just don't see how this press release discredits them and makes them all look ridiculous.

          • I'm just trying to state my opinion of this kerfuffle apart from the optics of it as described by all who've weighed in. The Chiefs are not the last authority on whether something is or is not offensive. They are politicians too. And even if they were genuinely offended, which I vaguely doubt, there is the question of whether they were right to take offense.

            I don't grasp what is offensive about being sent too many body bags. If the number of them far exceeds the number of H1N1 deaths that might occur, all you have is a surplus of body bags. I don't believe that anyone could honestly think that Health Canada's solution to a potential outbreak in these isolated communities was to choose to stock body bags instead of vaccines. You would have to be quite dumb to think that, and nobody involved here is dumb. Somebody just sent too many body bags, as this press release says. They probably sent some other community too many gas masks or too many stethoscopes.

            What discredits everybody involved here, apparently one and all, is the fact that they are exploiting the optics of this when they know perfectly well that there is nothing sinister involved. Instead of saying, Whoops, looks like you made a mistake, they are implicitly lamenting the fact that some idiot, somewhere, might have got the wrong idea. I'm sorry to say this is entirely characteristic of Canadian political discourse, in which the optics matter fifty times more than the substance and the story (and outrage) becomes entirely about the news cycle itself — totally meta. Yet we wonder why nobody takes government or the media seriously anymore. Here's why.

          • Hear, hear. This is one of those incidents that serves as a litmus test for partisan hacks.

            If you think it's worthwhile to make political hay out of this story, you're probably a partisan hack.

            If you think that Health Canada's solution to a potential outbreak in these isolated communities was to choose to stock body bags instead of vaccines, then you're either stupid, as Jack suggests, or you're a degenerate partisan hack.

          • But didn't the original attack, or news release, come from Chief Harper? I thought Iggy jumped on his bandwagon, not the other way around?

            Presser is full of weasel words. Weasel concepts.

            I'd like to know if some other community has been shorted body bags in their supplies, and how they can safely plan to hygienically storethe bodies that the Ministry projects will accumulate? Ahh, the hand sanitizer will come in handy, whether it's got alcohol or not.

            I also don't understand why the nursing station folks who ordered the supplies would be so shocked to find body bags if they are a regular part of the supplies? Why would they report that to the Chief? Wouldn't they just smile and think, oh, they gave us too many again? If it was just a misfilled order?

      • Inside voices please children.

      • When?

        • Someone should "leak" the grainy video to the internet. It'll be great for both their careers. I mean, really, who in the public eye has ever been harmed by a "leak" of sex tape?

    • Was it the bloody Green Party's fault?

      Let's be clear here, there is a Government in place and, that government is accountable for all of its affairs, including its departments, programs, policies, employees, etc… This particular Government came in preaching about accountability, it's high time they practice it.

      Health Canada sends bodybags to a native community, if that community takes issue with this, their issue is with the Government.

      Suaad Hagi Mohamud gets marooned in Kenya (and subsequently turned over for prosecution) by DFAIT, her issue is with the Government, not some diplomat.

      Several Ministers and high-ranking officials get careless with sensitive information, the issue is with the Government, not some assistant.

      Prime Minister spews lies against Opposition leader at (non-relevant) international conference for all to hear (and later to retract), the issue concerns this Government, not some hyper partisan staffer.

      Dakota, I can appreciate your undying love for the CPC… We all have our weaknesses. However, if you can't hold that Governement accountable for its actions, you diminish your own participation in this democracy.

  2. Let me get this straight . Some stock clerk at Health Canada made a mistake, and shipped too many body bags to Wasagamack, so now it's a national news item? Because people were offended by the symbolism?

    • To be more specific, because politicians thought people would be offended by the symbolism.

      • Well, there is a before and after. Aboriginal communities have been asking for
        assistance for months because H1N1 has had disproportional impact there.

        To have that assistance come in the form of body bags ( I'm sure there has
        been other assistance as well ) is a bit jarring. No matter how it happened.

      • Seems the Chiefs of those reserves were pretty offended and the Minister herself agreed that they should be.

        • Since when are Chiefs not politicians?

    • Crit_Reasoning, does your Crit_Reasoning also apply to the people who were offended by the symbolism in the outrage the Tories are inciting over the Liberal "flag" fliers?

      • I tend to get offended by real things, not symbolic things. In this case, I'm pretty sure it was an innocent mistake by some clerk, so I have a hard time getting too upset about it.

        I wasn't offended by the Liberal "flag" fliers, and I didn't pay close attention to that story. From what I've seen, it was a simple case of partisan arrogance run amok. The Liberals obviously recognized their mistake, and yanked the fliers.

  3. What are those opposition party claims?

    • Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said sending the bags suggests Ottawa has a grim prognosis for aboriginals.

      "It sends a message, it simply says: 'We expect aboriginal Canadians to die,"' he said, adding Aglukkaq cannot blame the mix-up on bureaucrats.

      "We feel that the minister has been sending out her bureaucrats when what's required is a simple, frank and human apology to Canadians. This just isn't good enough."

      Extremely cheap demagoguery, IMHO.

      • It does kinda suggest that. Probably unintionally. But it does.

        • Well, OK, but, as you say, how unlikely is it that Health Canada would be intentionally trying to send that message? Implying that the message was intentional strikes me as very disingenuous.

          Besides, as this press release says, we do expect aboriginal Canadians to die if their communities are touched by a pandemic. We expect everybody to die, en masse. The point being that such communities could not easily be resupplied if the pandemic struck in December. I'm sure there are plenty of body bags in readiness for you and me down south.

          • I don't think he was implying it was intentional. It was a huge insult to the communities that received them even though it was unintentional.

            Some times our good intentions come across the wrong way and we have to accept responsibility for them. I think Camus said it well, “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

            I also don't see the harm in having the Minister take a leadership role and apologize for the situation on behalf of the bureaucracy. I do believe the native leaders wish for the same thing.

          • But this presupposes that the Chiefs could conceivably have thought that Health Canada was planning on just collecting the dead, not caring for the sick. You would have to be extremely stupid or paranoid to think that. Personally, I am not willing to just say "These Chiefs are stupid and paranoid, therefore we just accept our responsibility for that." First, I prefer to think they are not stupid and/or paranoid, merely as cynical as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition; second, if they really are that stupid and/or paranoid, they deserve the respect of being held to a higher standard. Treating them like a natural phenomenon that just has to be dealt with is rather condescending.

      • I agree completely except Aglukkaq nixed that line of attack by playing along, throwing her department under the bus, and issuing a statement essentially agreeing with Ignatieff.

        Wonder what Lisa Raitt would have done…

        • Body bags…dead people…hand sanitizer — she would have been beside herself with sexiness, what else?

          And you're right — Aglukkaq drew more attention for her vehement remarks, calling for a probe — so, in the federal government, a "probe" is what, a phone call to the Ministry?

        • The tape of Lisa Raitt's musings about body bags should show up in about a year..then we will know.

          • She probably left them lyng around in a washroom somewhere.

  4. Some distant public mandarin has decided that instead of giving poor grannies a swine flu shot, what they actually need is a body bag.

    So, Harper's talks with Obama have yielded death panels for Canada as well.

    I sooo have had it with socialists.

  5. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and article this is.

  6. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and lede this is.

  7. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and article this is.

  8. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and lede this is.

  9. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and article this is.

  10. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Hopefully this statement closes the issue.

    I have no problem with how Wherry has handled this particular issue.

    The G&M on the other hand? Not so good. What a torqued headline and lede this is.

    • Funny it was only the other day they were refusing to send hand sanitizer because they feared the "natives" might drink it. Maybe it's not the govt's fault, and maybe it was just a shipping error. But it also says something about a mindset when it comes to dealing with aboriginal people that's got a nasty familiar ring to it.

  11. The body bags have grabbed the headlines — they're Raittworthily sexy after all — but listen to what Chief Harper says — it's more about what they don't have, and the shock of the first supplies they've been waiting and waiting for to show up including the body bags when they still don't have 'preparedness kits.'

    I don't think this is going away — is this actually part of the rolling out of the flu strategy? Something that hasn't been communicated, just executed? I'd be concerned if that happened here in a city, let alone on a remote northern area.

    And there currently is an H1N1 outbreak in a remote BC FN area; I think one person has died.

  12. Much as I would be the last one to pass on dumping on this government, no matter how some people try to spin this story, it seems likely that it was nothing more than a colossally unfortunate mistake by some anonymous junior staff member. Trying to link it with gov. incompetence/mismanagement is just too much of a stretch.

  13. Did anyone ever think that the vaccine may be so deadly that body bags may be needed.

    • I did when I heard the minister say tonight that all Canadians can have a flu shot by Nov, and they are testing them now to ensure they are safe. Yikes.

      • What's so scary about the fact that Health Canada is taking appropriate precautions and testing this vaccine, just as they would any other vaccine? "Yikes"? Are people really this stupid?

        • Read what some people write, Crit. Some people, apparently, are really this stupid.

        • I think what's scary is that they're testing them *now* but they'll be dishing them out by November. I could see a question as to how effective the tests could be in this tight of a time-frame. If the vaccine turns out to have any side-effects that take a longer term to show up, it could be disastrous.

          • Thank you Thwim, and that's exactly what I think too.

            Also, do you think tht MYL and Critical Reasoning are the same person, or just sharing a brain?

          • Are there doctors and informed medical professionals out there who are actually worried about the tight time-frame for testing the H1N1 vaccine, or is this just your personal opinion?

          • Oh I'll fully admit it's my personal opinion. There may be medical professionals who agree, but I haven't looked into it.

            But it's vindicated every time you see those ads saying "Have you or your family members taken [some thirteen syllable compound] and suffered from [list of about 15 very nasty nasty effects], call our law-firm!"

  14. It seems that this mishap is becoming more than it needs to be. Sure, as a nurse, we are taking more precautions and are preparing for the upcoming season. However, I don't think that sending extra body bags qualifies as a "scare" more than what we are doing already in the H1N1 outbreak preparation.

  15. I think Canadian soldiers would be insulted if the federal government sent body bags to Afghanistan.

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