The military has a pejorative phrase for when a commander shirks their responsibility – “delegate and disappear”. This ineffective leadership approach describes a leader detached from his team, who delegates, then fails to provide clear information, monitor progress, or follow up, and is missing in action when further support is required. In short, this federal government.
The Facts – Then and Now
Fact – During World War II Canada built 800,000 military vehicles, 50,000 tanks, 16,000 aircraft, 348 ten thousand tonne ships and mobilized over a million soldiers, sailors and airmen to serve overseas. With a production rate of 15 Hawker hurricane aircraft each week and a record of 112 days for a 10,000 tonne merchant ship, Canada was known for speed and a “get it done” attitude. Now in this pandemic, the US is on track to vaccinate 150 million people in 100 days, yet Canada may have only vaccinated 1.5 million in 100 days. Furthermore, US, UK, Israel and much of the European Union are all on track to have their populations vaccinated 6 months or more ahead of Canada
Fact – In 1921, Canadians invented insulin. In 1955, Canadians were instrumental in the polio vaccine development and distribution. In 2014, Canada’s Public Health Agency discovered the Ebola vaccine. Today, Canada does not have the capability to produce the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fact – Canada is the 9th largest economy, the 12th most developed, and 1st on the list of most educated countries in the world. Canada is 36th in the world per capita vaccination rate and 50th in the world in the number vaccinated in the last week. Canada’s vaccine shipments are small, unpredictable and remain unconfirmed week after week. Canada’s economic growth in the last 5 years is the worst since the great depression, with a per capita GDP that is $906 lower than in 2015. In contrast, the US 1.7% per capita growth rate was more than double Canada’s 0.7%. In 2019, the US GDP per capita was $14,000 more than Canada.
Federal Government – There is NO Problem and if there were it’s not our Fault
Canada is falling behind in fighting this pandemic and positioning for economic recovery. Meanwhile, the federal government has disappeared.
The government narrative claims, there is no problem, so nothing to fix. The vaccines are coming, and all will be well. There is no requirement to provide Canadians with comprehensive information, forecasts of confirmed deliveries, copies of vaccine contracts, a re-open plan, government spending details or the first federal budget in two years. Yet, the facts tell a very different story.
They further argue that all nations worldwide are facing the same challenges and Canada has done the best they could. Why should they be held accountable for something beyond their control? If that were true, then why are so many other countries so much further ahead of Canada?
It’s time for the federal government to reappear, acknowledge there is a problem, and urgently, change course to address it.
Vaccine Domestic Production
The current government contracts with Moderna and Pfizer don’t include the authority for Canada to manufacture the vaccines. These terms must be renegotiated. Canada must manufacture multiple vaccines within our borders. At the same time, as in WWII, the government must establish contracts that invest in and mobilize domestic facilities to be production ready the moment ink is dry.
Provincial Vaccine Mobilization Support
The federal government’s disappearing act has had a severe effect on the provinces. The delivery of health care is a provincial responsibility, but provincial structures were neither designed nor funded to address a crisis of this magnitude. Whether it’s establishing mass vaccination sites or providing enhanced storage and distribution using federal infrastructure or offering further federal support to testing or long term care homes, the federal government must more actively lend a hand.
Canadians Deserve Strong Federal Leadership
Provincial governments, businesses and Canadians are all starving for information and for a plan that defines how, when and under what circumstances the country will re-open.
Canadian lives and livelihoods hang in the balance. Canada’s pandemic response is not going well, and our country’s health and economy are suffering. The federal government must end their delegate and disappear approach and take lessons from a time when Canada got things done. If the federal government were to start showing up, maybe we could do so again.