It was revealed Wednesday that health officials warned the Trudeau government and Health Minister Patty Hadju that the country was not prepared to enforce a quarantine order on travellers from China.
The decision was then made to not quarantine tens of thousands of travellers from China's Hubei province, a move that could have significantly reduced the spread of coronavirus. The rationale behind this decision was to "reduce pressure" on public health resources.
The decision was outlined in a memo that included "roughly 1,000 pages of documents shared by public health officials with the federal health committee last month" according to Global News.
In the memo, it is explained that there were around 20,000 Chinese passengers coming to Canada every week in February. Because the high number of travellers and the lack of resources, quarantine was deemed "unrealistic."
Instead of implementing a travel ban or stricter measures, it was determined that travellers engage in "voluntary self-isolation" in order to place “less pressure on public health resources.”
The memo also stated: “Canadians may question a voluntary approach since there is no ability to enforce or ensure compliance ... However, there is anecdotal evidence that individuals who have returned from Hubei are already self-isolating. We could expect that most individuals would be compliant, given concern and anxiety associated with the coronavirus.”
Justin Trudeau was asked on Wednesday about his government's response to COVID-19. “We recognized early on that this was a challenge and we did take many measures to try and control or prevent or ensure that Canada was less vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 that we were seeing elsewhere in the world.”
“With hindsight, I’m sure there are lots of things that we could have done differently, could have done differently, but I can tell you that every step of the way, we took the advice of our medical professionals and our public health experts seriously and did as best we could,” Trudeau said.