One of the things that historians, public health experts, epidemiologists, and infectious disease specialists will be discussing for years is the report card given to each country regarding their handling of COVID-19. For better or worse, lessons will be learned either way regarding how the world handled the global crisis. The hope is that we as a planet will all be better prepared for the next emergency. Now that grades are being tallied, it looks like Canada will go down in history with bragging rights for an above-average B grade.
The panel of experts gave high marks to Canada for several reasons. Six months after the first diagnosed case, they had a low community spread. They were able to open bars and schools by July 2020 safely but maintained the humble ideology not to get too complacent. Canada also earned high praise for the ability to consistently flatten the curve with hospital admissions, never getting to the point of feeling out of control.
Politically, Canada’s governing bodies came together as a united front, offering clear, rational explanations and full transparency regarding societal decisions. As a result of that joint effort between federal, provincial, and municipal offices, citizens were able to feel more comfortable about the unknown future of this deadly virus. For these and other reasons, the population itself earned high marks for listening to their leadership advice and following the strict guidelines regarding social distancing, mask mandates, and quarantining, all crucial elements for controlling the spread of an unknown pathogen.
The Canadian handling of COVID was not without criticism, however. The early stages were maligned by difficulties securing enough testing kits for citizens and personal protection equipment (PPE) for first-responders. In addition, there was a lack of care and protection within aboriginal communities and long-term care facilities. The long-term lack of federal funding for indigenous groups is a problem that needs to be addressed. Canada is also behind on tracking technology that can predict the origin or prediction of cases.
Canada also has the potential to fall victim to the popular attitude of many young adults who are viewing the vaccine rollout as an end to COVID. Health officials have cautioned that the new normal will potentially never resemble the old one.