A state of emergency occurs during major emergencies that cause the government in a country to impose measures to perform actions that it would not take or allow in a normal situation. One such case is a medical pandemic or epidemic that threatens an entire or a region within a country. A government declaration in a state of emergency alerts the public to be vigilant and to change their normal behavior and requires public agencies to create emergency plans. While COVID-19 is a new problem, it is a state of emergency in Canada due to the measures that the government was forced to implement to curtail it’s spreading, such as restriction of movement and social distancing.
‘State of Emergency’
Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the Federal, state, and local governments have engaged in concerted efforts and implemented critical measures to curtail the spreading of the disease, which makes it a state of emergency. The ”COVID-19: Emergency Measures Tracker” has been tracking and monitoring government response to the pandemic and the emergency measures that the government has imposed in each jurisdiction (Boire-Schwab et al., 2020). While it might be impossible to summarize all the emergency measures that make the pandemic a state of emergency, some include restriction of movements and activities across the Canadian border, adoption of the emergency relief fund, and other social distancing measures.
Cause of the Emergency
The state of emergency in Canada and around the world is caused by the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which was identified for the first time in China towards the end of 2019, but has spread rapidly across the world. Although age is not the only factor in the worsening of the state of emergency caused by the virus, it is one of the major risk factors for fatality following the infection. Another factor that has aggravated the disease is the presence of underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of the life of Canadians, the way they live, shop, work, and eat. The emergency has affected the economy of Canada both positively and negatively. One of the affected sectors of the economy is the housing market due to social distancing policies. While the effect is negative for sellers, it is favorable for buyers since they are enjoying lower prices. The sale of bikes is increasing due to the need to keep distance in the transport sector (Evans, 2020). Furthermore, retail sales have declined in the wake of the emergency. However, the use of technology has improved to support working at home and online shopping to avoid physical stores.
The Lead Agency
Health professionals in Canada have a critical role in addressing the state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They identify, report, and manage possible cases of the virus. However, the leading agency in fighting against the epidemic is the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared it a global epidemic. The agency also helps in global tracking and monitoring the spread of the virus and provides regular updates. The organization advices about necessary measures to prevent and control the pandemic through active surveillance. Locally, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) monitors the situation and avails information about the emergency (Coronavirus disease (COVID-19, 2020; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), 2020). The agencies are improving control and ensure that governments are implementing measures to control the emergency.
Outcome and Synopsis
The rate of infection in Canada has been increasing since the first case was reported in March 2020. As of July 29, 2020, more than 3,946,565 people had been tested for the virus in the country, and 2.8% of the tests were positive. The virus has led to 8,917 as of July 29, 2020 (Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), 2020). Given the high contagious nature of the virus, new cases may continue to be reported each until the infections reach a peak. Therefore, current efforts to control the pandemic aims at curtailing its spreading across the country.
Outline the Recovery Methodology
The epidemic curve plays a vital role in understanding the trend of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the emergency is still underway, and recovery efforts are challenged by the highly infectious nature of the disease. Although countries, such as China has reached a peak in the pandemic, they are yet to recover completely (Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission, 2020). Other countries, including Canada, have not achieved the peak, which explains the ongoing attempts to control the outbreak of the new coronavirus. The recovery face experiences the challenge in that the virus is still active and spreading rapidly in the country.
The Canadian federal government has implemented measures and investment in efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. As of May 28, the cost of the efforts to address the pandemic had risen to more than $152.7 billion. The cost includes direct support programs, which tales about a fifth of the overall budget, protection of health and safety of Canadians, and plans to provide business and tax liquidity. Program to support tax deferrals and credit and loan guarantee also account for a part of the cost. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is the most significant single program, accounting for about $45 billion. Other parts of the budget include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit at $60 billion, the Canada Emergency Business Account at $13.7 billion, GST credits at $5.5 billion, financial aid to students at $9 billion, and Orphan thoroughly clean up at $1.7 billion. The cost might continue to increase as the virus continue to affect the lives of Canadians.
Management of the Emergency
Emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic has taken different paths and have been conducted at various levels to increase effectiveness. The separation of roles in the response process has been effective due to the proper allocation of resources. Working at the community level, Regional level, national level, and the whole government has ensured that the emergency is addressed successfully from all angles and increases the chances of success Emergency response process during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020). Therefore, Canada is considerably successful in fighting the emergency.
Effectiveness of the Emergency Plan
The government of Canada implemented an effective emergency plan to deal with the new coronavirus by creating an infrastructure to respond to all the levels of the threat caused by the pandemic. The government focused on public health, being the worse hit by this nature of the emergency. The plan was effective in addressing its health, economic, and social impacts by collaborating with relevant stakeholders, such as in health care and different levels of government. The plan focuses on seven guiding principles: collaboration, evidence-informed decision-making, proportionality, flexibility, a precautionary approach, use of established practices and systems, and ethical decision-making (Government of Canada takes action on COVID-19, 2020). Such concerted efforts make it useful in addressing the emergency and its related public health threats.
The emergency plan in Canada to address the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been effective in treating the needs of the communities it was designed to serve. The target of the plan is to address the risk of the epidemic on public health since it is a medical emergency. Some of the ways through which it has affected the target communities include the establishment of Public Health Agency of Canada, the selection of Chief Public Health Officer, the creation of the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector, and improvement of the diagnostic capability in the National Microbiology Laboratory (Government of Canada takes action on COVID-19, 2020). The steps informs the efficacy of the emergency plan in dealing with the medical emergency.
Conclusion and Way Forward
Although the Canadian government has been effective in addressing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could have taken more steps in the area of prevention and tracking the infections to prevent a wide-scale spreading. Social distancing and stay at home policies have proven effective in curtailing the spread of the disease, but they are only effective with adequate social support, especially for low-income families. Therefore, the government should increase the support for such families to ensure adherence to social distancing and restriction of movement. Another way the government could improve emergency management is through increased tests conducted daily and better surveillance and monitoring of infections. Tracking plays a vital role in this area.
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