Health Workers: From Praise to Protection

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2123 ... June 15, 2020
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Health Workers: From Praise to Protection

Sam Gindin

Crises sometimes bring out the best in society, and sometimes -- or even at the same time -- they clarify what is so darkly wrong within. In the particular case of the commitments and risks taken by the front-line workers that we apparently value so deeply now, the contrast lies in how little they were valued before. And even now as so many praise these workers, the response falls so wretchedly short of protecting them as best we collectively can.

Of the many dilemmas that emerged from the sudden, if not completely surprising, surfacing of the pandemic, one was a shortage of personal protective equipment. This was particularly so in regard to N95 masks. The Canadian government had ordered over 100 million such masks when the crisis broke out but -- stunningly -- less than two million were delivered in useable form. With international supply chains disrupted, international competition for such masks so intense, and US President Donald Trump threatening to limit the export of such... masks to Canada, the Ontario government scrambled to find domestic companies in Canada to produce personal protective equipment (PPE).

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