Spring

It is a glorious spring day out here on Canada’s West Coast. I’ll be off to the dog park this afternoon. Good exercise, lots of sunshine, good mental health break. When I am doing the circuit of the park I will have the company of my 20 year old son, Sam, who is very smart but not quite as skeptical as I would like him to be. We’ll be discussing this video: https://rumble.com/vfa2gh-peter-mccullough-md-testifies-how-successful-early-treatment-for-covid-make.html?mref=6zof&mc=dgip3&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HealthImpactNews&ep=2

Dr. McCullough is a very smart, very eminent, doctor and he raises the question of why COVID patients are not offered treatment when they first test positive for the virus. He outlines some of the early treatment options but the real take away is that patients are routinely not offered any treatment or even information about treatment at all.

This has puzzled me from the outset of the pandemic. I realize that this time last year there were few clues as to what might make a difference. HCQ was touted but dismissed on the basis of some rather badly constructed single drug, later intervention, studies. Ivermectin was still over the horizon and some the steroids were being looked at but were not really options. But, a year later, you would think that early treatment would have advanced. But it hasn’t. Nor has there been much official conversation about the benefits of having strong Vitamin D levels and trying to bolster your immune system.

The entire arc of the COVID story has been social distance, masks, closures and lockdowns until vaccines can be delivered in bulk. The idea of a parallel track where doctors and researchers come up with a set of best practices to treat patients once they have tested positive seems to have simply never gained traction. At least not in the West.

Dr. McCullough points out that while all eyes were on the vaccine there was no comparable effort to develop treatment protocols. Why not? The good doctor points out that none of Trump’s COVID advisors had ever actually treated a COVID patient which might explain a bit. But Trump’s people were not the only people advising political leaders. Every country had its advisers.

My own ten cents worth is to look at it from a public policy perspective. From the go COVID has been seen as a public health emergency. Public health, by definition, looks at population scale solutions. Hospital capacity, rates of transmission, reduction of transmission by restriction on movement and activities. To public health officials, with the best will in the world, COVID is a mass phenomena which requires mass solutions. There are, however, other lenses to bring to COVID.

COVID could have been viewed as public emergency like an earthquake or an economic collapse. Through this lens, public health is one element of a government wide response. Through this lens, the public health interest in containing the spread of COVID would be matched by a medical response on a case by case basis. There is no reason we could not have done both. (Obviously, in the hospitals and the ICUs, case by case medicine is being practiced with somewhat encouraging clinical results.)

In a purely public health response, the idea of treating individual cases and developing protocols for early intervention can easily be lost in the drive to preserve the population until vaccines can be developed to save us all. And the logic of public health can justify all manner of non-pharmaceutical interventions to avoid overwhelming the hospitals and keep people from getting the virus. However, the public health response tends to see the virus as a binary: either you avoid it long enough to get vaccinated or you don’t and your risk of death rises. For a nastier virus than COVID has turned out to be, that might have been the correct reaction. But COVID is not ebola or even the Spanish flu, its nasty but most people will survive it.

The medical question, rather than the public health question, is what Dr. McCullough wants to talk about. It is a conversation which should have been had in the Spring and Summer of 2020 when the first wave had broken and the second wave had not yet arrived. Doctors now had clinical experience with severe COVID and were developing strategies to deal with it in hospital settings. But, apparently, there was very little work being done to figure out what to do in the critical week or two between a person testing positive and developing symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization.

Frankly, that amazes me. It shocks and amazes Dr. McCullough.

Right now I am going to organize the daily dog park tour and drink in the Spring sun. Like most upper respiratory infections, COVID should fade quickly as the weather warms. But, as it does, it would be a very good idea, even with the vaccines, to come up with standard of care treatment plans for people who come down with COVID as we wait for the vaccine.

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The Season

COVID-19 cases in BC appear to be slowing down.

The peak was at the beginning of November. Which makes sense as that is roughly where the peak of the flu season falls. At a guess, we are likely to see a further decline which will track seasonal flu. The “flu season” is generally over by May.

I suspect the experience in other jurisdictions will be similar. I also suspect that the public hysteria about COVID will wear off over February and March and be pretty much gone by May. In BC, at least, we have not had “lockdowns” and the schools are open in a manner of speaking. People are sticking pretty close to home and masks are universal inside. Which may or may not be making a difference.

Only 145,000 vaccination doses have been administered and there is virtually no vaccine left. I would be very surprised if we manage to administer more than 200,000 doses by the time the virus peters out. The elderly, frontline care workers and First Nations people have been our priorities and it may have made a difference. Hard to tell until the weekly death statistics are available.

My general point is that the peak of COVID-19 in BC is behind us. The vaccine should reduce the death rate. So should the rehabilitation of HCQ and the deployment of ivermectin as well as a host of other proactive therapies. Our hospitals have climbed the COVID learning curve and out comes for most people who are under 85 and not already ill are steadily improving.

The British Columbia economy has taken a hit and will continue to stagger; but there is plenty of economic activity and businesses have adapted to the various restrictions and requirements.

What needs to happen now at the provincial level, is a top to bottom analysis of our response to COVID. What did we do right, what could we have done better, what will we do when the next pandemic/serious flu arrives? This is not about blame as, frankly, both the government and the public health service got a lot more right than wrong. But we need to think about how to improve our response.

A few suggestions:

  • Begin a program to increase surge ICU capacity at all BC hospitals – set a goal of an additional “x” number of ICU beds per year and make that investment.
  • stockpile PPE – we need to have enough to last for a couple of months without re-supply.
  • Get serious about long term care facilities – the vast majority of the deaths in BC were the elderly and particularly the elderly in LTCs. We need to do very much better and we need to have a plan in place for very early intervention when the next pandemic comes over the horizon. We also need to work at upgrading the facilities we have and build new ones.
  • Prepare a “stay at home” plan – two weeks to flatten the curve actually worked quite well in BC. It was not a strict lockdown but everyone tried hard to stay at home. Next time we should all know that there will be a stay at home period and that we must all plan accordingly.
  • Be ready with border closures/quarantine requirements for travelers. Yes, this is a federal responsibility; but there is no reason to think the feds will be any better next time than they were this time. BC should have legislation which requires a period of isolation for all international travelers.
  • Have a plan for schools: COVID was not particularly dangerous for children but the uncertainty which surrounded plans for schools caused a lot of disruption. Knowing that the schools will likely be closed a set period after a Health Emergency has been declared would help.
  • Right from the go, starting now, put out the message that a strong immune system is a very good thing: Vitamin D, C and outdoor activity daily are a great start. Trying to build the immune systems of every British Columbian in anticipation of the next pandemic makes a lot of sense.
  • Harden day to day systems – simple things like staggering working hours to avoid transit crowding may not be all that sexy, but they can make a huge difference
  • Do serious analysis of how COVID spread in BC. We are going to have a very rich data set. We need to use it. Ex poste analysis should tell us where the super spreader events were and what actually happened. Whether it was dentists at the convention center or my Big Fat East Indian Wedding, we need to know.
  • Come up with a clear and consistent reporting system. Dr. Henry and Minister Dix have done very well but the more information we have the more willing we’ll be to help end the next pandemic

COVID-19 is a wake-up call, a live fire exercise with relatively few casualties. We may not be quite so lucky with the next super flu. The Spanish flu killed 10X the people COVID has. There is no reason to believe that a virus of that lethality is not going to arrive sometime in the next couple of decades. We need to be prepared.

Asinine

Erin O’Toole is not very bright. But sometimes he drops down to moronic. Attempting to kick Derek Sloan out of the CPC caucus – on the pretext that Sloan’s leadership campaign accepted a donation from one of Canada’s three Nazi adjacent minor character who donated under an unrecognized name – is idiocy on speed.

Where to start? Well, it appears that the donation in question slipped through without questions being raised by the Sloan campaign. This makes sense as the donation came from a Frederick P. Fromm which Sloan and his campaign were supposed to recognize as an alias, or maybe little used first name of….drum roll, Paul Fromm. How, exactly, they were supposed to recognize Fred as Paul is mysterious but O’Toole sees the acceptance of the donation as ““far worse than a gross error of judgment or failure of due diligence.” It is pretty much evil all the way down if there is a well-known white supremacist involved even if you do not have a clue at the time the donation is made.

Our Erin is having none of this sort of behavior in his “modern” Conservative Party. He promises to use his power as leader to prevent Sloan from running under the CPC banner in his riding. And just to make sure that no one thinks this is a mere clerical error, Erin turns the virtue signal dial to 11 with this ringing declaration, “Racism is a disease of the soul, repugnant to our core values. It has no place in our country. It has no place in the Conservative Party of Canada. I won’t tolerate it.” Suitable for MLK Day.

Sloan is too much of a socon for me to be a big fan but I am pretty sure he is not a racist. I might be wrong about that, but it does not matter one whit to our Erin: the opportunity to kiss up to the media establishment was too tempting. And, realistically, is there any place for Sloan in a “modern” Conservative party. Sloan is not actually a liberal in blue camouflage. He has been known to have strong views and, horrors, has been on Rebel Media. Double Plus Ungood!

Sloan has a substantial following among the deplorable socon wing of the modern Conservative party and our Erin is just dumb enough that he might think he can get rid of those dreadful people by firing Sloan. Fat chance.

Sloan himself has been rude enough to point out that if he, inadvertently took Nazi dollars, so did CPC HQ because 10% of leadership donations flowed through to CPC HQ. The cheek of the man!

But the very dumbest part of our Erin’s political calculus was forgetting that Sloan has an alternative party to go to: the PPC. Max would be delighted to welcome the PPC’s first sitting MP. And the PPC is a broad church in which socons are welcome. Max himself is more a libertarian but, no matter, if Derek Sloan wants to be the PPC’s Deborah Grey he’d be welcome.

As O’Toole’s stupidity becomes manifest his inability to come even close to Justin and the Libs’ polling numbers is causing many CPC members to do the following calculus: O’Toole can’t beat Trudeau, O’Toole is simply Liberal lite, voting for O’Toole will not get rid of Trudeau….Maybe I should look at somewhere else to vote. If Sloan came over to the PPC he might very well bring a lot of disgruntled CPC members and voters.

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Mandate of Heaven

The American Presidency is an odd institution. Partially political, partially ceremonial and more than a bit symbolic. At the Founding, George Washington was reportedly offered the kingship of the new American nation. He turned it down and became the first President. But there are elements to the American Presidency which owe more to the idea of kings than the ideals of democracy.

The bow tie brigade is fond of pointing out that the United States is a Republic rather than a democracy and, to a degree, they are right. The founders were not especially enamoured with democracy. They saw the states as having most of the power and designed a system in which Senators were appointed by their state and the Electoral College was a deliberative body appointed by the states as well. The Senate arrangements were striped away by the 17th Amendment and the Electoral College has evolved into a rubber stamp. But there remains a sense that the Presidency transcends the hurley burley of partisan politics. “Respect for the Office” if not the incumbent, was an important, non-partisan, American value.

This all changed with the advent of Donald Trump. From well before his election, the American establishment, Democrat and Republican refused to accept The Donald as America’s President. They spied on him, ran the phony Russian collusion investigation, impeached him for suggesting that the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden and his errant son Hunter, impeached him again for so-called “incitement” and generally refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of his election. The political and media establishment were perfectly willing to trash the Office in their lust to get the man.

Which is why the Biden Inauguration is being held behind 30,000 troops and 12 foot high, razor wire topped fences. This defensive perimeter is not required to fend off irate Trump supporters furious at what they believe was a stolen election. Rather it is required to add some mystique to a doddering, corrupt little man who is being installed as President.

As I remarked to a friend, Presidential campaigns with their rallies and speeches and debates and endless travel are, as the Biden “victory” proves, entirely superfluous to ballot harvesting in a mass media age. In terms of votes a two million dollar ad buy is more valuable than a campaign tour whistle stop. However, campaigns, actual campaigns, serve another purpose: they connect the candidate to actual Americans and, more importantly, Americans to the candidates. Trump established a connection to millions of Americans who voted for him and millions who did not. Biden did not.

Apparently over 80 million Americans cast their votes for Biden. Yet in a deeply Democrat city surrounded by blue states, instead of worrying about how to deal with huge crowds of supporters, the Biden Inauguration is in a defensive crouch.

Now assorted commentators point to the rally of January 6 with a million well behaved Trump supporters and a couple of thousand yahoos as necessitating the security measures. There is no strong evidence that Trump supporters have or had any intention of attacking the Biden Inauguration. No doubt more than a few might have shown up to heckle the man, but that is simple democracy and no threat.

The fact is that Biden’s total lack of campaigning has left him without any connection to Americans. People did not vote for Joe Biden, rather they voted against Donald Trump.

Those 80+ million people (assuming that they actually exist and actually voted) would, normally, have given Biden a mandate, a popular endorsement. However, because Biden did not campaign, took no unscripted questions, didn’t bother to travel much, his mandate, the endorsement of his voters, is very fragile. The current security theatre in Washington is an attempt to buttress Biden’s claim to the Presidency, or rather the legitimacy of that claim.

I very much doubt it will work.

Lockdown + Curfew + ?

Vitamin D and COVID 19

Our friends in Quebec are under a lockdown plus, now, a strictly enforced curfew. Manitoba and Ontario are locked down.

There is not a great deal of science behind the lockdowns other than pointing at Australia. But there is some logic in that if you are not outside your house you are unlikely to catch or transmit COVID. The problem being that there are a lot of people for whom “just staying at home” is unrealistic as they have “essential” jobs.

In Canada we have something on the order of six months to go before a really significant proportion of the population is vaccinated. (And, yes there are questions about exactly what the vaccines do – apparently they do not confer absolute immunity and such immunity as they do confer may not last all that long. But better than nothing.)

So it appears we are going to be dealing with lockdowns and curfews well into summer. And they seem to be the only tool in the public health box. But are they?

I realize I can be a bit of a bore about Vitamin D, C and zinc. Not to mention getting outside and taking a bit of exercise. But in the daily news conferences where public health officers announce cases number, hospitalizations and deaths there is no mention of the simple measures which have shown promise in reducing the incidence and severity of COVID infection.

I understand the need to stay on message and encourage compliance with current public health measures, but adding D,C, zinc and outdoor exercise to the wash your hands mantra could well improve outcomes. Even more to the point, making arrangements for D,C and zinc to be available free along with suggested dosing instructions at pharmacies and grocery stores would not be very expensive and might improve immune systems. A program like this could also be targeted at communities which appear more vunerable: First Nations, black and South Asian communities, for whatever reason, seem to be at increased risk from COVID.

Lockdowns and curfews and mask mandates have not proven terrifically successful outside Australia. Adding another layer of defence by improving the immune systems of significant numbers of people might well be more effective. It is certainly worth a try.

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All over but the shouting?

To my not very great surprise Mike Pence has indicated that he’ll be counting the electoral votes as presented. While there will be objections to various states’ electors those are unlikely to be sustained by either the House or the Senate. Which will mean that, likely by the end of today, Joe Biden will be President elect and Trump will be packing up his White House.

I have never been an all in Trumpist. When he was elected I supported him simply because Hillary was so dreadful. Biden is not nearly as dreadful and, while I will miss Trump’s anti-Swamp activities, the election of the thoroughly corrupt Biden is, in itself, a major disaster. Biden will nod along and the assorted loons in the Democratic party will fight among themselves.

What is a disaster is the fact that there was, apparently, nothing either Trump nor the Republican Party could do about the rampant cheating which led to Biden’s astonishing vote. Ballots in the night, the Dominion voting machines’ algorithms, the dead, non-resident and illegals voting, the mass mailing of ballots: nothing moved the needle.

The needle stayed put because the American media had absolutely no interest in what was and is the most significant political story of my lifetime. Not because they loved Joe Biden, rather because they hated Donald Trump and the people who supported him.

As I write the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who have flooded into Washington are, apparently, breaching the Capitol Building grounds. Where that goes will be interesting. Right thinking bow tie Republicans will see this as “deplorable” and it is. But the complete bad faith of the American ruling elite, the corruption of the voting systems, the resolute unwillingness of the Courts to hear actual evidence and the failure of the Vice President to find a way forward leaves those deplorables with very few choices.

They are inside the Capitol now and both the House and the Senate are recessed. This is not the day Joe Biden will be President Elect.

We’ll see how this turns out: there is a fair bit of shouting left to be done in Washington.

Update: It looks like the Capitol has been cleared and the Joint Session has recommenced. The great and the good have deplored “violence” and “riot” and Twitter has suspended President Trump’s account.

Unfortunately, a woman was shot and killed at the Capitol. Exactly how and by whom is unknown.

Washington insiders have closed ranks to push Biden across the line. Functionally, this should be enough to have him achieve a Presidency of a sort. Biden will start with the asterisk of a stolen election and an absence of any real personal support. There will be no inauguration parade and, I suspect, citing COVID and security, the actual swearing in will take place behind closed doors.

Will Trump retreat to the golf course and lick his wounds? Perhaps, for a while; but everything I have seen suggests that Trump will be back.

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OMG

OK, the Libs have gone nuts.

They are proposing a bill which:

“The Bill clarifies that the Act applies on the Internet. Clause 1 would add online undertakings as a distinct class of broadcasting undertaking subject to the Act. Online undertaking would be defined in the Act as an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet to the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus.” (link)

There is nothing about the internet which, remotely qualifies it as a “broadcast undertaking”.

This sort of loose language would meant that my little blog, and possibly my tweets, makes me CTV.

Now the summary suggests that I might not be CTV for purposes of the Act; but the mere idea that one may become a “broadcast undertaking” simply by being on the internet and that this would subject one to CRTC oversight is, frankly, insane.

It is idiot legislation but the important question is “why”? Why would the Trudeau government think it necessary to bring pretty much the whole internet under CRTC regulation?

(And, by the way, what is this nonsense about “programs”. No one really publishes “programs”.)

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Cat’s out of the bag

Covid-19

“Number of people who died in BC is 587. All but 2 were elders in Long Term Care homes.” -Dr. Henry, BC-CMOH, Dec 10.

Really?

I had missed this when it was first broadcast. But apparently Dr. Bonny Henry stated that all but 2 deaths with COVID in British Columbia were elders in Long Term Care. Assuming for the moment that this is true it certainly puts the whole COVID pandemic in a very different light.

Last year my mother, having reached her mid 90’s living on her own with very limited help, was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer. She did not want to go into a hospice and my brother and I were lucky enough to find her a place in a private Vancouver care facility. Mum was in no pain but was incredibly frail. Totally lucid but very weak. To no one’s surprise, least of all her own, she died about 40 days into her stay. The fact is that people in Long Term Care are often at the very edge of death. A cold could, and often does, push them over that edge. Not for nothing is pneumonia sometimes called “the old man’s friend”.

If 585 of the COVID dead in BC were in LTC chances are very good that, even without COVID, most of them would have died in the normal course of things.

Which is sad but also encouraging. It implies that COVID is, at worse, a mild disease for the vast majority of the population and deadly for a very small fraction of that population who were close to death in any case.

If that is the case then public health policy needs to be rethought. The idea that we all need to be vaccinated against a not very lethal disease was unlikely from the go. The idea that we need to close down our economy to prevent the spread of a disease which does not threaten the vast majority needs to be re-examined.

We’ve known for sometime that the majority of COVID deaths are concentrated in the very elderly. What Dr. Henry’s statement reveals is that COVID morbidity is entirely confined to the very old. We need to protect those people but we do not protect them by closing down our day to day lives. Nor do we protect them by wearing masks (outside LTCs) or restricting travel or closing bars at 10PM.

If Dr. Henry’s numbers are correct they have huge implications for public policy. Our lazy media needs to actually ask Dr. Henry and Health Minister Dix to clarify their policy in light of those numbers.

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Vaccine or Cure

COVID-19

Over on Twitter I put up a poll: Cure or Vaccine? I don’t have a huge Twitter reach but of the 50 people who have voted so far, 75% say cure, 25% say vaccine. Of course one can embrace the power of “and” and have both and I think that is where we are heading.

Personally, I am all for “cure” over vaccine for a number of reasons. First off, COVID is not a very deadly disease if you are not over 80, in long term care and suffering from some other serious condition. An overall recovery rate of greater than 99% is not to be ignored. You certainly don’t want to get COVID and taking reasonable precautions and lots of Vitamin D makes a lot of sense.

The medical establishment has become significantly better at treating COVID using an array of techniques – everything from “proning” patients, to no invasive oxygen supplementation to certain steroids and anti-biotics to treat the symptoms of the virus. People are, sadly, still dying of COVID but unlike in the early days of the pandemic, clinicians have a variety of protocols which reduce the lethality of the virus.

Early intervention seems to be important. And there is where, if there is to be a “cure” we are likely to find it. (I will leave HCQ out of the discussion simply because it has become so political.) Ivermectin, a cheap, readily available anti-parasitic drug, taken early with daily doses of vitamin D3, vitamin C, quercetin, zinc and melatonin seems to work as a prophylactic and as a means of radically reducing the severity of a COVID infection. In fact, ivermectin shows promise as a means of preventing infection all together.

In the West we are going to be rolling out the vaccines in the next few weeks. There is a bit of debate as to who should get what will, initially, be a limited supply but there is a consensus that people most at risk from COVID and those who care for them should be first in line. We’ll see how the vaccine is tolerated by the elderly and there have been warnings that it may kill the very old and the very frail. Which, sadly, makes sense as the population of any long term care facility will always have several people who are on the brink of death.

It makes sense to vaccinate the very elderly because, unlike the rest of us, they do not enjoy a 99.0% recovery rate. More like 50% and worse if there are other conditions. And it makes sense to vaccinate caregivers as they are at greater risk of contacting the virus and, sadly, or transmitting it.

Now, what about the rest of us? And does the answer to that question change if we have effective treatments for COVID. With a 99.9 percent recovery rate for the under 80s with current treatment regimes, the urgency of vaccination, once the elderly and their carers have been vaccinated is much reduced.

Oddly, one of the principle arguments for mass or even mandatory vaccination is to “get things back to normal”. If everyone is vaccinated, the argument goes, then we won’t need lockdowns and, eventually, we won’t need masks. Of course, this argument presumes that lockdowns and masks have had significant effects on the rate of transmission of COVID. Cracks are beginning to appear around the efficacy of both lockdowns and mask mandates, especially as implemented in the West. (Personally, I don’t think it is a lockdown if you can shop with few restrictions at Costco or Walmart.)

However, if we have effective treatments for COVID and the recovery rate remains very, very high, would there remain any rationale for lockdowns, travel restrictions or mask mandates? Every year (except 2020) we have a flu season which kills people in significant numbers and for which there is a mildly effective vaccine. The survival rate in a hard flu season is roughly comparable to COVID. We do not lock down, close schools, demand masks; we just get on with life

The vaccine roll out will, I suspect, begin to restore the public’s confidence. For the last eight months we have been subjected to a relentless barrage of bad case numbers and models which suggest our hospitals will sink under the weight of cases. The arrival of a vaccine may reduce the case numbers a bit although not by a lot because of limited availability. But if it turns out to work, it should end worries about overwhelmed ICUs.

However, the real end of the pandemic will occur when the general public realizes that there are treatments and even “cures” for a disease which was not very lethal to begin with. We still have several months of public worry to endure but, as Spring arrives and the case numbers fall in the normal course for a respiratory illness, COVID will finally be in the rearview mirror.

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Spend!

Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland wants to stimulate the Canadian economy by encouraging/forcing Canadians with savings to spend some of those savings. Right wing twitter is convinced that she’s prepping us for a “bail-in” where the government just comes in and takes a chunk of the money you have saved. Which may very well be true but that is not actually what she is presently saying.

She asked for ideas so here are a few:

  1. Registered Recreation account. Modelled on the other registered vehicles, the RRA would allow individuals and families to deduct the costs of recreational activities from their taxable income to a certain limit each year. Essentially, keep the receipts from restaurant meals and take out, (when restaurants are open), hotel stays for non-business purposes, whale watching, ski passes, rec center memberships, sporting equipment. End of the year, tote up the receipts and enter it as a non-refundable credit. The RRA would target many of the businesses hardest hit by the lockdowns.
  2. Small Business Bond: At the moment, the savings of Canadians are locked up in accounts which pay, at most, 1.5% interest. We’d all like to do better. Why not create a backed by the Government of Canada “bond scheme” which pays and interest rate of 5% and which lends working capital to small business at, say, 7% on easy terms. Flexible denominations starting at, say, $100 with an individual limit of, say $100,000. This would be the middle class helping out the middle class.
  3. The First Nations Water Bond: Many Canadians are ashamed that the Government of Canada can’t “fix” the crisis of bad water on hundreds of reserves in Canada. Promises are made and broken. OK, let’s try a different approach. Let’s offer 5%, tax-free, bonds to fund a serious private/public/FN approach to real solutions here. Do 20 year bonds but spend the money in the first two years.
  4. A Travel Tax Credit: Go see Canada! Reconnect with Family and Friends. Basically allow individuals and families to take a non-refundable credit for any plane or rail trip to another province where you stay for at least three nights. (And yes, you can “double dip” with the RRA…we’d like you to.)
  5. The Original Art/Performance Credit: Buy a Canadian Painting, go to a Canadian play or musical performance. Keep the receipt and you get a non-refundable tax credit.
  6. Shop Canada! Get a $100 non-refundable tax credit for every $500 spent when you buy from Canadian owned retailers. Must be cash or debit – no credit cards. Cumulative monthly.

Mobilizing Canadian savings is not rocket science: offer a decent rate of return, a tax nudge and the guarantee of the Government that the funds will be returned and money will flow. Give people non-refundable tax credits and they will hit the stores.

None of this needs to cost much. The non-refundable tax credits are tax expenditures but they should have a ripple effect which will offset those expenditures. The Small Business Bonds and the FN Water Bonds would be a charge on the Treasury but the Business bonds would be paid back and the Water Bonds would fund something the Government should be doing in any event.

What Freeland is actually talking about is accelerating the velocity of money in the Canadian economy. You can print as much money as you want but, if no one is spending it or spending it on inert assets like houses, it does very little economic good. There is an old saying that money is like manure, it does the most good when it is spread around. Get spreading Chrystia!

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