FELDSTED -- Contingency plans for epidemics must be put in place now, while the devastation of COVID is fresh in our minds
The usual suspects are taking advantage of an epidemic to push their political agenda to make extensive paid sick leave mandatory. That is a job killer. Mandated paid sick leave, like paid vacation time, is an employment expense (or tax) that governs how many employees an enterprise can afford and remain profitable.
Leftists are under the illusion that businesses should not make a profit
providing goods and services to the public. Witness the cries that corporations
should not be allowed to operate personal care facilities. Those corporations
spent hundreds of millions acquiring land, erecting buildings, hiring a
management and staff, and complying with provincial regulations. Acquiring the
infrastructure would be expensive when provincial budgets are already under
water and our economy is stagnant.
Paid leave to assist in containing a contagious virus is an entirely different matter. Governments realized that lockdown plans have limits. If essential services do not continue, social order will collapse. People need access to clothing, food, medications, water, utilities and so on.
We had no
epidemic plan in place; no stocks of needed medical supplies, no contingency plans
for medical facilities. Governments were making up plans on the fly with a huge
waste of money and resources that have not been tallied yet.
Universal paid sick leave is an expensive undertaking that will have a profound effect on the hourly paid employment sector and has no support from employers.
Providing sick leave supports for COVID-19 victims during an epidemic is a different matter and is justifiable. That support can reduce the virus spread and the numbers hospitalized. The reduced pressure on medical facilities translates into more normal operations and less disruption of scheduled procedures.
Replacing income for people ill with the virus, or quarantined due to exposure, is part of dealing with virus containment. People feeling unwell can stay home rather then risk infecting others. Family members quarantined due to one of their number being infected can have lost income replaced.
Income replacement has to be tied into testing. Those who feel ill need to make an appointment for testing. The test is proof of eligibility for 2 to 3 days paid time off if the test is negative, and whatever quarantine time is required if the test is positive.
If the test is positive, household members must also quarantine and are eligible for income replacement for the duration of the quarantine.
Admittance to a medial facility is an automatic eligibility for income replacement for the duration of the stay and any medically approved home recovery period. We cannot leave families without income to pay bills and provide food and shelter because primary wage earner(s) fall ill to an epidemic.
We have about eighteen different health care systems with no universal standards or coordination. That helps to explain why we get a variety of approaches to virus containment regulations and implementation.
We have 18
separate boats, each equipped with one unmatched oar, and wonder why the
flotilla is not functioning as a unit.
The definition of ‘essential worker’ is fluid. The federal Public Safety web site lists several pages of Essential Services and Functions
At the end, Public Safety notes:
If you are looking to determine if a specific job or service is deemed essential, please contact your provincial or territorial government, as they, not the federal government, have the legislative authority to determine what is or is not considered essential in their jurisdiction.
Who is and is not an ‘essential worker’ varies by political jurisdiction. The result is public confusion as announcements are made as if everyone is on the same page which is not correct.
Constitutionally, quarantine is an exclusive federal jurisdiction. Provinces have no authority to confine people to their homes or to demand that they self-isolate. Using the term isolation does not mean it is not a quarantine order.
Neither federal or provincial governments have authority to close down businesses for a protracted period without compensation. Governments have made no efforts to show that restaurants present any greater health risk than supermarkets, big box stores or malls. Decisions on business closures are arbitrary and based on bias and supposition rather than fact.
Contingency plans for epidemics must be put in place now, while the devastation of COVID is fresh in our minds. We have emergency preparedness departments, federal and provincial, none of which were ready for COVID or coordinated to deal with a nationwide epidemic. That must not happen again.
John Feldsted ... is a political commentator, consultant, and strategist. He makes his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.