Canada failed to learn from SARS and mismanaged COVID-19, investigation reveals

Just because Canada’s next door neighbour is doing a catastrophically bad job confronting the global coronavirus pandemic it doesn’t mean our country’s response is without significant flaws, the author of a new report on Canadian management of the COVID-19 crisis said today.

In fact, Canada has failed health care workers and mismanaged COVID-19, the report released this morning concludes.

“In the wake of the first phase of COVID-19, Canada has paid a heavy price in disease, death, anguish and anxiety for failing to learn from SARS and to take a precautionary approach,” said Mario Possamai, lead investigator and author of the report, which was commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

At an online announcement broadcast on social media, Possamai noted that despite the experience of Canada, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan during the 2002-2004 outbreak of SARS, a similar coronavirus disease, Canada has had more COVID-19 cases and deaths than China, Hong Kong and Taiwan combined.

This poor response illuminates major flaws in the Canada’s approach to public health, as well as a dangerous and irresponsible outlook on worker safety, the former senior advisor to the Ontario SARS Commission said. “Urgent action is needed now to address the problems exposed by this investigation.”

The independent investigation’s report, entitled A Time of Fear, makes 50 recommendations to improve worker and public safety and to enhance transparency and accountability. Among them are urgent measures that enshrine a precautionary approach in Canada’s pandemic response.

“This report tells us what went wrong, what went right, where accountability lies and, most importantly, where we go from here as we prepare for the next waves of this pandemic,” CFNU President Linda Silas said this morning.

The report is available at