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October 5, 2020

Investigation: Canada failed health workers and mismanaged COVID-19

Media Release

October 5, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – An investigation into Canada’s management of COVID-19 and the safety of the nation’s health care workers has been released. The investigation’s report, A Time of Fear, details Canada’s systemic preventable failure to adequately prepare and urgently respond to the gravest public health emergency in a century.

The independent investigation was commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and conducted by Mario Possamai, former senior advisor to the Ontario SARS Commission.

“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. “Urgent action is needed now to address the problems exposed by this investigation.”

The findings highlight major flaws in the Canada’s approach to public health, and a dangerous and irresponsible outlook on worker safety in response to the pandemic. Canada has more COVID-19 cases and deaths than China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – Canada’s peers in experiencing SARS – combined.

“The CFNU commissioned this investigation after government and public health leaders repeatedly ignored the safety concerns of nurses,” said Linda Silas, president of the CFNU. “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.”

The report makes 50 recommendations to improve worker and public safety and to enhance transparency and accountability. Among the recommendations are urgent measures that enshrine a precautionary approach in Canada’s pandemic response.

“As we brace for future waves of COVID-19, Canada’s public health agencies and governments must act urgently to fix their systemic failings and learn from other jurisdictions that better protected their workers and more effectively contained the pandemic,” concluded Possamai.

The full report of the investigation is available at


For more information, please contact:
Lauren Snowball,, 613-868-5702
Ben René,, 613-406-5962

Read the Report