Editor: With Canada well into the third wave of COVID-19 and Variants of Concern on the rise, I cannot help but believe Canadians have been let down repeatedly by our elected officials.
Now in their defence, few of our elected officials have any sort of experience in developing plans and many have a background that did nothing to prepare them to lead a small group, let alone Canada or a province during a pandemic. I do not believe at any point during the past year did political parties set aside their differences in order to come together and concentrate their full efforts on developing a comprehensive plan that focused collaboratively on the welfare of Canadians. Governments, for the most part, seem to follow a decision-making process akin to trial and error, whilst deflecting blame. Current Government of Canada and provincial restrictive measures appear to lack any sort of deliberate planning process or any form of co-ordination with those key stakeholders who are expected to implement such measures. Opposition parties are quick to point out failures but offer no assistance.
The Government of Canada prides itself on a whole-of-government approach to vexing domestic and international issues. Why? It’s because most problems today require a co-ordinated and integrated approach to fully understand the nature of the problem and then to be able to develop viable solutions.
For example, the Canadian Armed Forces have a proven operational planning process that would be a valuable tool when responding to a pandemic. Sadly, we have no real plan in place and that reflects poorly on all levels of government, the federal level in particular.
The Canadian Armed Forces have an immense capacity to develop strategic level plans and has the experience, intellect, planning and leadership ability to work with all stakeholders in a whole-of-government approach.
What is needed is a plan that addresses health and safety, the economy, education, security, communications, travel, vaccine availability and many other aspects of life in Canada while battling a virus.
The Armed Forces’ planning process has stood the test of war, natural disasters, and many other events in Canada’s past. Thousands of Canadian officers are formally trained to correctly apply this planning process and could assist Public Health Canada, the lead agency for a pandemic response, and other whole-of-government partners in developing an overarching strategic plan.
The Strategic Joint Staff at National Defence Headquarters and the Canadian Joint Operations Command are purpose built for such planning while various Joint Task Force Headquarters across Canada are uniquely placed to work together with provincial and territorial leaders and stakeholders to develop provincial and territorial plans that address the nuances of each region.
Canadians deserve better from our elected officials and they deserve better support from the massive bureaucracy that supports them. It is not too late to develop a plan to help bring this pandemic in Canada to an end and be prepared for future pandemics.
Col. (Retired) Ian Creighton