Tina Namiesniowski, the former president of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), resigned on September 18th. This is 18 months after having been appointed to the job, and just as COVID-19 cases started to spike nation-wide.
In a statement, she said “You really need someone who will have the energy and the stamina to take the Agency and our response to the next level.” She also added that the work the PHAC has done during the past months has had a personal toll on several people, including herself, and that she wishes she could have done more.
The agency has received a lot of backlash under the Namiesniowski administration, including when it was reported that, in early June, as businesses were starting to reopen, the PHAC struggled to maintain a steady inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to ensure the safety of medical professionals, essential workers, and other citizens.
Not only did they simply not have enough supply to meet the high demand of PPE, but issues with quality control arose when the PHAC delivered around 10 million [note from the writer: some sources say one million, so 10 million may be an exaggeration on the part of the source I used… I guess even Global News is subject to bias, who would have thought] defective medical-grade N95 respirator masks that had been imported from China.
Furthermore, in May 2019, under seven months before the start of the global outbreak of COVID-19, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), developed by the PHAC in 1997 to act as a “pandemic early warning system” for Canada and for the World Health Organization (WHO), was shut down; its officials were reassigned to other government positions and forced into silence.
The cause for this sudden shutdown? The PHAC decided that the GPHIN was too focused on the international stage and, since there had been no pandemic scares recently, funding this preventative tool was considered a waste. This is even despite the praises it had gotten in the past by the WHO and even by Google, who offered to buy it in 2008.
Guess what else happened in May 2019? That’s right, Tina Namiesniowski was appointed president of the PHAC.
When the virus was finally detected internationally, Canada was one of the most ill-prepared when it could have potentially been the most prepared, or even been the first to detect, predict and perhaps prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In addition, experienced scientists reported that their voices were no longer being heard by the PHAC, as critical information collected within the first weeks of the outbreak never even reached the government.
On September 8th, Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Health Minister, ordered an independent review of what really happened to the GPHIN and why scientists weren’t taken seriously by the PHAC senior staff during the early stages of COVID-19.
Then, on September 18th, Tina Namiesniowski resigned.
Now, this is not a conspiracy theory article, as I am only writing what I know to be factual. It is now up to you, readers, to draw your own conclusions based on what I have outlined for you.
What do you think this review will reveal? Why did no one listen to the scientists’ early warnings concerning the pandemic? Why was the GPHIN, considered by the WHO to be “the foundation of a global pandemic early warning system,” shut down seven months before the century’s worst global pandemic? Even when it had, up until now, proven to be very useful in detecting even the smallest outbreaks around the world, including one that killed only two people in Uganda?
Is it a coincidence that after 22 years of operation, and only 7 months before the worst pandemic of the century, the only system in the world that could have been able to detect it before December 2019 was mysteriously shut down?
If it detected an outbreak in Uganda that killed only two people, could it not have detected the first two cases of the novel coronavirus when they occurred, a date that is still unknown to the world?
By Sophie Dufresne