CUPE Public Health

CUPE Public Health

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is Canada's largest union.

Canada’s lost months: When COVID-19′s first wave hit, governments and health officials were scattered and slow to act

From January to March, official pandemic preparations were marred by the same kind of miscommunication and friction as in the SARS outbreak of 2003. Dozens of infectious-disease experts, health officials and politicians spoke with The Globe to piece together what went wrong

Image Sergio Santos/Creative Commons

Between Jan. 26 and Jan. 30, Monir Taha, an associate medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health, wrote a series of increasingly agitated e-mails to high-ranking Ontario health officials, outlining concerns about the federal response to the emerging threat of the novel coronavirus.

On the day before Dr. Taha’s first message, Ontario’s chief medical officer had announced a Toronto hospital was treating Canada’s first case of COVID-19. In subsequent media conferences, provincial and federal officials stressed the health care system was well-equipped to contain cases if more appeared. “The risk of an outbreak in Canada remains low,” tweeted Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer on Jan. 25.

But Dr. Taha - and other health experts dotted across the country – weren’t so sure.

Read the rest of the Globe & Mail investigation.

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The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is Canada's largest union.