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Accountability & Democratic Renewal

Canada’s doctors echo H1N1 concerns

Posted on August 18, 2009

Given the Conservative government’s poor track record in managing health crises, Liberal MPs continue to express their concerns that Canada isn’t prepared for a second wave of H1N1 flu.

“We learned the hard way when listeriosis claimed twenty-two lives last year,” said Liberal Health Critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett. “Now we’re seeing no federal action to help cancer patients cope with thousands of delayed tests arising from the medical isotope shortage. How can we feel confident in this government’s ability to protect Canadians from H1N1?”

Concerns over Canada’s lack of readiness has reached the point where the Canadian Medical Association’s Journal is calling for the federal Conservatives to step aside from this issue entirely, by recommending that an independent “health czar” take over the federal response to H1N1.

“There can be no more damning indictment of the Conservative government’s handling of this issue,” said Quebec Liberal MP Dr. Bernard Patry. “Liberals have long called for an independent chief public health officer who reports to Parliament, not a government of a particular partisan stripe.”

Conservative Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq provided only vague assurances to the Canadian Medical Association on H1N1 preparedness yesterday, and refused to provide details on the safety or distribution of anti-viral drugs to Canadians. Having still provided no clear response to the Premiers’ call for immediate and meaningful cooperation on tackling the pandemic, Dr. Bennett expressed concern that the Minister of Health is dodging full accountability on the issue of H1N1 preparedness.

“Canadians need answers – which is why we appreciate Minister Aglukkaq’s willingness to make herself available to the Health Committee again,” said Dr. Bennett. “We hope she can stay for all of the meeting this time so that the elected members can get answers and give Canadians more confidence that we’re ready for H1N1.”