The Economy Should Have Come Before Healthcare

June 1st, 2021 | Spartacus

Without healthy people, we can't have a healthy workforce. Without a healthy workforce, we can't have a healthy economy. On the flip side, we can't have good health without a good economy. Without a job to pay rent, to buy food, or to keep our sanity intact, what would happen to our overall health? The fact of the matter is, the pandemic is killing people who are not in the workforce and who are over the age of 80. In any situation where a pandemic was killing young, healthy and highly productive people, a full lockdown would have been justified. Our current situation requires no such thing. The fears about overwhelming our healthcare system could have been alleviated by staffing more hospitals and expanding ICU capacity across the country. This solution would have been more cost effective and it would have saved our economy.

Canadians spend more than $260 billion per year on public healthcare. Without a tax-paying workforce or a functioning economy, that money would have nowhere to come from. Without a functioning economy or a stable workforce, our public healthcare system would collapse. This is a reality that has escaped most politicians during this pandemic.

With a system that was already struggling before the pandemic, lockdowns have made matters worse for Canadian healthcare by destroying the economy and by bankrupting small businesses. It would have been more sustainable to throw $500 billion at the healthcare system to expand staffing and intensive care units. Instead, we got $700 billion added to our national debt, along side disrupted supply chains, skyrocketing inflation and over 2,000 bankrupted businesses.

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It's understandable that no politician would have wanted a healthcare catastrophe on their watch, but there were handfuls of other options available at the time—besides lockdowns and crippling economic restrictions. However, the world was doing it, so Canada had to follow along. A few rogues, like Sweden, were doing things differently, but our politicians weren't willing to gamble with their political futures. In the end, Sweden came out alive and in a similar condition as other countries that had more severe lockdowns.

Despite the media's hysterics about a second and third wave in Sweden, the country came out of it with the same per capita number of overall deaths as every other country, especially the ones with crippling lockdowns. You can see the numbers for yourself here. France and the UK both had more severe lockdowns than Sweden, but a higher per capita death count. Sorry, those are just the facts.

When it comes to vaccine procurement and distribution, Canada is one of the worst. But, that could be its own full story for another day.

So, what could Canada have done differently in its handling of the pandemic?

Billions To Provinces For Healthcare

The federal government could have doled out $80 billion or more to every province and territory, each, based on their needs. When compared to what we spent anyway (and are still going to spend), this approach may have been more sensible. Heavily and densely populated provinces like Ontario and Quebec could have received more, while territories like Yukon could have received less. The money could have been doled out specifically to hire staff, increase ICU capacity, purchase ventilators and oxygen and so much more. Had media and anti-Trumpers not whipped up a hysterical frenzy against Hydroxychloroquine, they could have also stockpiled doses of the drug to help treat patients.

As the pandemic dragged on, professionals learned how to better treat the ill, which caused a decline in the overall death rate. With proper healthcare and medicine, we probably could have avoided a catastrophe without locking ourselves down. 

Temporary Doctors And Nurses

The federal government could have spent billions on importing experienced doctors and nurses from other, less stricken countries at the time. It might have been viewed as controversial on the global stage, but it would have staffed hospitals across the country as ICUs filled up. Billions could have been spent to entice them with larger-than-normal salaries on temporary contracts.

Importing doctors at 200% more than their average cost could have filled the demand for more doctors and nurses on a short timeline. As a result, perhaps businesses could have stayed open and our hospitals could have been better prepared, without any severe lockdowns.

"Canadians spend more than $260 billion per year on public healthcare."

Of course, our own doctors and nurses would have also required temporary pay increases on the grounds of “fairness” and to avoid strikes and strife. It would have cost countless billions, but so did our current approach.

Forced Federal Lockdowns On All Nursing Homes And Cancer Centres

Using emergency powers, the Trudeau government probably could have grounded flights, blocked immigration and locked down nursing homes in every province at the early onset of the pandemic in Canada. To curb the costs, he could have injected billions more into provincial wallets to handle shortfalls, staffing problems and other issues. The lockdowns could have persisted throughout the pandemic to protect the lives of our most vulnerable, while allowing everyone else to live like normal.

Lighter Restrictions

Working from home has always been possible across most industries. Some lighter and less damaging restrictions could have required businesses to accommodate working from home, rather than shutting down completely. Restaurants could have remained open at half capacity and retail and specialty stores could have remained operational. This, of course, would have only been done to pacify the Karens and welfare cases who were crying for lockdowns from the very beginning.

Letting The Fire Burn Itself Out

Despite the hype, India's death rate from the virus is still only 1.5%. The numbers seem more staggering because the country has a population of nearly 2 billion, mostly living in densely populated areas with poor sanitation and limited healthcare. However, according to experts, some parts of India are close to achieving herd immunity due to the sheer speed and intensity of the spread.

Some have suggested that Sweden's dreaded “third wave” was shorter lived and less severe than anticipated because of herd immunity in key areas, which may have been achieved after the country's hands-off approach to the virus during the first and second waves. Again, much of this is controversial and up for debate.

In the end, Sweden saw a massive and sudden increase in hospitalizations and deaths, but when all was said and done, the numbers were similar to other countries. As stated earlier, Sweden's per capita death rate is lower than some countries that had more severe restrictions.

The point of this whole article is to suggest that this pandemic could have been handled without lockdowns. The biggest fear among the political class has always been overwhelming our fragile healthcare system and seeing bodies pile up as a result. That fear put our national deficit over one trillion dollars and cost us more that $700 billion over a short 10 month period in 2020. In the process, more than 2,000 businesses have been put into bankruptcy , leaving an economy that will need billions more worth of injections to stay afloat in 2022.

We could spend years debating the what-ifs and what would have been a more cost effective approach, but what we do know is that our economy has faced unprecedented ruination because of devastating and never-ending lockdowns. Now, with Canada's slow vaccination rates, that devastation is being dragged out even longer.

The billions more we will now need to spend on pulling the economy out of the gutter and curing the various growing mental health crises that are emerging across Canada is worth another look. Perhaps, in ten years, we will have learned a lesson on how to protect our public healthcare without destroying the economy and the livelihoods that make it all possible.

© 2021 Poletical