OTTAWA, ON (March 1, 2023): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an Ottawa press conference that Canadians had a relatively good ride during the pandemic. As he went on to say to reporters on February 18, “We had a better pandemic than many of our peer countries, with fewer deaths, lower levels of economic disruption, greater social cohesion than many other places.”
Unfortunately, those casual references to broad impact categories don’t reflect the hard truths compiled by MLI’s COVID Misery Index (CMI), which was designed to capture a meaningful barometer of how public policy choices ultimately affected Canadians during the depths of the pandemic.
The CMI tracked a wide range of indicators based on Disease Misery, COVID Response Misery, and Economic Impact Misery, covering different factors such as economic considerations, impacts on education, excess deaths, and the elements of human well-being affected by long-term lockdowns.
Despite the prime minister’s unsubstantiated claims, Canada’s experience in the pandemic has been far from positive. When it comes to Disease Misery, Canada did perform better than countries like the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany. But even then, it still only received a 4th place (or a B+ grade) out of the 15 countries examined in the CMI. Countries like Australia, Japan, and Norway did much better than Canada.
Canada also deployed harsh lockdown measures and ended up ranking 14th in terms of the severity and length of strict public health measures. Regardless of the clinical reasons for doing so, there is no doubt that asking people to give up personal freedoms comes at a cost. Restricting movement, closing provincial and national borders and limiting social gatherings have borne a heavy toll.
As a result, Canada ended up ranking 7th (or a B grade) on Response Misery, which measures factors such as vaccination rates, tests per case, and lockdown stringency.
While public health officials and policy-makers were measuring COVID in terms of new cases, total deaths, how many people got tests and how many got vaccinated, Canada was actually paying a heavier price than many peer countries in terms of economic anxiety – another fact noted in the CMI.
In fact, Canada was near the bottom, at 14th place, on Economic Misery, getting a failing grade overall. Sky-high unemployment, public borrowing, and elevated inflation are largely to blame for the poor performance. The CMI also found that Canada’s debt-financed spending binge contributed significantly to inflation.
There are many difficult aspects of the pandemic that left this nation weaker and more vulnerable. While Prime Minister Trudeau may enjoy lauding how Canada has performed during the pandemic, he would do well to look at countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Norway, all three of which have had better health outcomes, far fewer punitive restrictions overall, and with far less economic cost.
Mr. Trudeau’s handlers should make sure he has a firm grasp on the real record before he makes any further passive comments about how well Canadians have had it.
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