Car dealers and airlines have for years had far better computer systems to keep track of the health of your car, and every airplane seat in the world. The Big Tech software companies not only collect humongous volumes of data on many of us, with their real-time technologies; they are continually doing experiments to see what will induce us to click more on their sites and advertisements.
These requirements are more than just reasonable; they are based on the federal government’s constitutional authorities for the spending power, and for peace, order and good government.
At the same tine, the federal government sorely needs to up its game. For example, the most recent speech from the throne committed the federal government to take the lead in developing national standards for long-term care. But one has to wonder how this can be achieved when there is virtually no nationally comparable data on one of the most crucial aspects of long-term care quality, namely staffing.
The federal government was negotiating the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines many months ago. That should have been more than sufficient lead time to ensure that there would also be a national system in place when the vaccines started arriving to track how the vaccine rollout was progressing.
Yes, it can and should be left up to each province to decide vaccine allocation. But with the current hodge-podge of computer, fax and email systems, there is no way to keep track in real time of what’s being done across the country. There’s also no way to connect vaccinations to rises and falls in outbreaks at the level of detail needed to inform lockdown policy.
Health care and public health are quintessentially knowledge industries. It should be obvious that they should be organizations that learn from experience. But it is impossible to learn from experience if you have no way of knowing just what you are experiencing.
Proper data collection and analysis are essential.
It is long past time that the federal government stiffened its spine and, in addition to saying it will work collaboratively with the provinces, put some muscle into meeting nation-wide concerns.
Michael Wolfson, PhD, is a former assistant chief statistician at Statistics Canada and a member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa.
This content was originally published here.