“The problem isn’t a structural one. The problem is governments have ignored repeated, clear directions, and frankly, that’s scandalous,” Mr. Davies said, pointing to the federal auditor general’s 2010 report that found that public health officials were not maintaining a proper accounting of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. (The stockpile is a system of 11 warehouses for medical equipment and supplies.) “It’s not quite clear what role PHAC did or didn’t play in this. They operate with [federal] resources and at the direction of government.”
As NDP MP Don Davies told The Hill Times, governments over the years have been warned about the country’s “lack of emergency preparation,” and they’ve done nothing. Pointing to the federal auditor general’s 2010 report that found that public health officials were not maintaining a proper accounting of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile, and other warnings following SARS, he described that as “scandalous."
The inadequate funding and mismanagement of the stockpile spanned both Conservative and Liberal governments, NDP MP and health critic Don Davies said, adding neither has an excuse for the shortcomings.
“It’s a serious breach of duty that puts Canadian’s lives unnecessarily at risk," Mr. Davies said.
“To me this is not about politics, I am not there to delve into the politics of the WHO I am purely interested in their information and the way they responded to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
He said if Aylward is prepared to do media interviews he should testify.
“I don’t understand the difference. If he is prepared to come forward and on the record answer questions, why wouldn’t he want to do that with our committee.”
Davies said Aylward has a global perspective that will be valuable in the committee’s research.
Don Davies, NDP health critic and another member of the committee, said he would support issuing a summons.
“I’m disappointed in the WHO’s position, especially considering we are seeking information from a Canadian official,” Mr. Davies said. “Their officials should be transparent and accountable to the nations they serve.”
Our parents and grandparents built this country. They sheltered and nurtured us when we were young and vulnerable. In turn, we have a duty to take care of them as they age.
But COVID-19 has revealed a bitter truth: we have abandoned this responsibility as a country.
Let no one ever claim that we don’t understand the consequences of this collective neglect.
There are no more excuses. It’s time to make this right.
NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway, B.C.), his party’s health critic and a member of the agenda and procedure subcommittee, said members received an update at the subcommittee meeting on Thursday, April 23, that Dr. Aylward was in Geneva and that the WHO is trying to arrange a way to have him appear before the committee by videoconference, but that nothing has been confirmed.
Questions about the stockpile’s state of readiness for the COVID-19 pandemic have been mounting for more than a month. On April 1, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters that the government “likely did not have enough” equipment and that public-health preparedness had been underfunded for decades.
The stockpile’s budget is not available in public documents and PHAC officials, speaking at a House of Commons committee on Wednesday, couldn’t answer NDP MP Don Davies’s question about it.
Canada cut number of stockpile storage locations for critical medical supplies by one third in past two years
The specific budget for the stockpile is not publicly available and Ms. Thornton was not able to provide the information when asked by NDP MP Don Davies. However, the funding envelope for the agency’s program that is responsible for managing the NESS has changed dramatically over the past decade of Conservative and Liberal governments, to $71.8-million in 2014 from $19.8 million in 2012.
“I have written a joint letter with Jagmeet Singh, Don Davies & Jenny Kwan urging the federal government to immediately inject an emergency funding to sustain this important public transit system so that TransLink can continue to provide daily service to over 75,000 essential workers who rely on the transit systems to get to work,” wrote Julian on Facebook.