BONOKOSKI: The COVID-19 news just keeps on getting worse

Canada's rate of excess deaths for those aged 15-plus places Canada 12th out of 15 First World countries in that category and these rates appear to be climbing.

There is such a thing as a COVID Misery Index, developed by the brains at the non-partisan Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), a think-tank that does the hard slog for those of us with lesser IQs.

Its latest index update, though, should surprise no one. The MLI has determined that “slow vaccinations have led to Canada’s excess death rate surging past the United States.”

Not only that, but Canada also remains in 11th place overall on the COVID Misery Index and continues to have the worst showing of all countries measured in terms of response to the pandemic.

It’s quite the indictment, and one Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal war room will try to keep buried once the writ is dropped to trigger a national election.

An election, of course, is expected soon. And why not? A recently updated 338 Canada vote projection has the Trudeau Liberals winning an outright majority of 172 seats if a federal election were held tomorrow, leaving Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole with a grim 108 seats, which is 13 fewer than attained under Andrew Scheer’s stewardship.

This is hardly good news. In fact, it is gut wrenching considering Trudeau’s copious scandals and his overt lack of leadership.

While Canadian cases, hospitalizations and deaths reported by provinces from COVID-19 remain low compared to peers, excess death rates in Canada are particularly worrying, says the MLI.

Canada’s rate of excess deaths for those aged 15-plus places Canada 12th out of 15 First World countries in that category and these rates appear to be climbing.

This development adds to the concerns raised in a recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which has found that Canada’s nursing homes had the worst record for COVID-19 deaths among wealthy nations.

All this comes as countries with more effective vaccination rollouts are witnessing precisely the opposite trend.

In a recent op-ed in the Toronto Sun, Dr. Shawn Whatley, an MLI senior fellow and author, argued that “our inadequate testing and slow vaccine rollout means there will be more disease, suffering and death than necessary.”

As he wrote, a significant barrier to improving our health-care system is the “complacent belief” that at least we are better than the Americans.

This has been a long-standing belief, assisted by the seemingly pandemic apathy displayed by former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Yet the full picture provided by the COVID Misery Index suggests Canada is not in fact better than the United States in its comprehensive response to the pandemic. Perhaps more importantly, says the MLI, Canada continues to fall well behind peers like Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

The index data, in fact, suggests that the U.S. program “is working and is allowing a resumption of normal access to health care,” among those who have been vaccinated.

But not so in Canada.

  1. In this multiple-exposed image, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, left, asks a question and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers during question period on Nov. 4, 2020.

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  2. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, wearing a protective mask, attends a news conference in Ottawa March 5, 2021.

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  3. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 30, 2021.

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“A quickly worsening COVID outlook, new strict lockdown measures, persistently slow vaccinations, and a climbing excess death rate are all worrying stories to watch in Canada,” argued Richard Audas, a heath statistician and the designer of the COVID Misery Index.

“Our inefficient response has come at a steep price, and that price is likely to climb as Canada stares down yet another wave of the virus, this time with more deadly variants.”

And here we are, again in the midst of yet another lockdown and a stay-at-home state of emergency, with Ontario just reporting two straight days of 4,400-plus COVID-19 cases.

There appears no end in sight, but will it hang the Trudeau Liberals?

It should, but it won’t.

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