A report examining the high COVID-19 infection rate among health care workers suggests Canadian decision-makers failed to consider the lessons of the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Mario Possamai, a former senior advisor to the Ontario SARS Commission, authored the report and says the system for protecting Canadian health care workers is broken.
Possamai says workers were under-protected, under-resourced, and under-appreciated during the first wave of COVID-19.
“Canada is witnessing a systemic preventable failure to learn from the 2003 SARS outbreak. It is a failure to both adequately prepare and to urgently respond in a manner that would be commensurate with the gravest public health emergency in a century,” he said.
Canada’s national health worker infection rate is also more than four times the rate in China, the report says.
Citing union sources, the report claims 16 workers died of the pandemic, though official reports indicate 12 deaths.
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About 13,000 Canadian health care workers have filed workplace injury claims arising from COVID-19, representing 75 per cent of all claims in Canada.
Possamai cautions that federal, provincial, and territorial governments urgently need to work together to guarantee a sufficient supply of N95 respirators.
He also wrote that governments and public health agencies must commit to being transparent about PPE stockpiles.
The report was commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.