Politics

Green Party leader calls on Trudeau to curb COVID-19 confusion and appoint a national task force

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should immediately appoint a panel of expert scientists to help coordinate the national response to COVID-19 as cases continue to spike.

'What's happening right now doesn't work — that's clear,' Annamie Paul says

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appoint a national COVID-19 task force. (Pierre-Olivier Bernatchez/CBC)

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should immediately appoint a panel of expert scientists to help coordinate the national response to COVID-19 as the number of cases continues to rise.

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill today, Paul said Canadians are not being well served by the confusing current patchwork of federal, provincial and municipal COVID-19 policies.

She said the country must have clear, coordinated messages, with officials speaking with "one voice."

WATCH: Green Party Leader Annamie Paul calls for a national approach to the pandemic:

Paul calls for national coordination in COVID-19 fight

Politics News

5 months ago
1:52
Green Party leader Annamie Paul decries the mixed and confusing messages coming from different levels of government in Canada. 1:52

She cited the example of the recent byelection in Toronto-Centre, which Paul lost to Liberal Marci Ien. Paul pointed out that byelection voters were being told by federal Elections Canada officials that it was safe to vote even as municipal leaders were encouraging them to stay close to home.

Canada doesn't need a "one size fits all" approach, Paul said, but the country should have something like Australia's National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board. That board, according to its terms of reference, is responsible for "mobilizing a whole‑of-society and whole-of-economy effort, to take action against the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic."

Paul said the country could be divided into colour-coded zones — as Ontario and Quebec already have done for some regions — with national standards determining what those living in those zones can and cannot do during the pandemic.

The national task force would take the lead on drafting restrictions to ensure some level of uniformity across the country, she said, with the understanding that some regions are performing better than others with respect to case counts.

"The problem right now is we have very mixed and confusing messages at a time when people have said they are willing to do what is necessary to prioritize life. We do not have coordinated, unified messaging on the pandemic," she said.

And while Canada is a federation, with a division of powers between various jurisdictions and levels of government, Paul said now is not the time for squabbling over who is responsible for what when so many people are getting sick.

"I say very clearly that we must accept that this is not a local health issue, this is not a provincial health issue. This is a national health emergency, it is a national pandemic," Paul said.

"What's happening right now doesn't work — that's clear. People are dying, we're in the midst of a second wave and we're not seeing any improvement."

Watch: 'We're not suggesting a one-size-fits-all policy for all of Canada,' says Paul:

'We're not suggesting a one-size-fits-all policy for all of Canada' | Green Leader Annamie Paul

Power and Politics

5 months ago
1:27
Green Leader Annamie Paul discusses her call for a National COVID-19 Task Force in order to curb confusion. 1:27

Paul said that even the U.S., which has been criticized by some for its pandemic response, is further ahead on coming up with a cohesive, national response.

She said president-elect Joe Biden formed a coronavirus advisory board dominated by scientists and doctors shortly after he secured the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

That task force is chaired by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler and Yale University's Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.

Biden has said the task force will take policy proposals and "convert [them] into an action blueprint."

"That plan will be built on bedrock science ... I'll spare no effort, none, or any commitment, to turn around this pandemic."

The Public Health Agency of Canada already has established a "health portfolio operations centre" that coordinates the federal response with international, provincial and territorial partners. Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, is also in close contact with provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health to share information and coordinate response efforts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now