Opinion: Missing COVID recovery road map redoubles vaccination frustration

How long will it take?

With Britons getting jabbed to quell their pandemic, with Americans getting ready to join them, we are still as Canadians in a quandary about the queue we occupy. How long will it take for the poke?

Our prime minister insists he bought early and often and widely the vaccines developed in record time. He wouldn’t fib about his chips on the table, would he?

His Conservative opponents insist he sat on his wallet, took his eye off the needle, banked on China, and was outflanked when it most counted. They wouldn’t exaggerate about their hand, would they?

They each fling accusations that the other is responsible – even if there are four decades of inertia between their governance since the country permitted the sale of the lab that devised Insulin – for the inability in our most pressing health crisis to manufacture the drugs necessary to save us from further ruin.

Before one side gets to lather on the criticism when one of them is proven wrong about the when and where of the imported vaccinations, we are going to get into our own lather when the U.S. and U.K. networks carry the images of the hibernated liberated to visit, gather, party, travel, celebrate and, oh yes, work.

The gap between them and us might be weeks, might be months, but even if it is days, it will feel not only like a further sidewinder to our physical and economic well-being but also like an excruciating insult, particularly given how so much of America has taken the low road – coughing in the face of the coronavirus, expelling idiocy unmasked, talking little sense but talking with its money to sweep aside the record caseloads, deaths and economic consequences.

When you’re big, you fall big, but you recover big. Shame on them, but we envy.

Considering how Canadian officials have counselled the country that it is better to be safe than sorry – which, for Canadians who say sorry, is quite a leap – for all this Olympian effort and training we will wind up outside the medals, with a gap in time and in economic activity that will leave us further uncompetitive in rebuilding us amid the global them.

It isn’t for wanting.

A new HSBC Canada study of British Columbian businesses suggests a real eagerness to get on with the next stage: investment in finding new customers and in enhancing their experiences, and a commitment to efficiency and the technology to support it.

Fair enough, but there’s another study of businesses from the Business Council of British Columbia in which there is an apprehension that we are lacking the plan to do what’s needed and a deep, dark fear that the plan will include burdens on those trying to fill the hole that has been burrowed by the pandemic.

So, the same cohort ready to plunge into the messy business of investing and innovating has a foreboding sense that it’ll have an anchor aside the boat as it water-skis.

This calls for leadership. Hello? Hello?

With further public health measures to push us indoors and indisposed to hug our unbubbled buddies, a great little bit of news from on high would be a plan. And not the $100 billion, three-year federal sketch laid out last week by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, but a more granular several-step economic recovery from those closer to us on the other side of our shuttered domiciles. As in: what happens first, what goes next, what awaits us then, what we are aiming for after, what we hope will occur eventually.

This is not the week to resume the legislature in Victoria for the mock outrage of partisan theatre. It’s time for the people with new mandates to lay out the schematic for the next months in this once-in-a-lifetime challenge. (B.C. is promising a plan to deal with early vaccine stages in the coming week.)

Beyond our provincial borders, it’s also time for the people in Ottawa to identify who will be vaccinated not just earliest – yes, long-term care and front-line workers – but the pecking order of the nation so we will know which parts of our economy and community will revive first, and when.

Why wouldn’t we have known the hierarchy by now? Am I in the first three million, the first 10, the first 20, the 30th, the last five million? Why is this not something an afternoon of deliberation amid the last nine months would have sorted? Why do the folks up high not know that an understanding of this prioritizing is integral to the revitalizing of the country?

As for city hall? I gave up.

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

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