Canadians deserve more inspiring, less tepid federal messaging on vaccines, restrictions

Click to play video: 'Trudeau outlines his hopes for a ‘one-dose summer’ and ‘two-dose fall’'
Trudeau outlines his hopes for a ‘one-dose summer’ and ‘two-dose fall’
WATCH: (May 11, 2021) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that as vaccination ramps up people will be able to have what he called a “one dose summer” and a “two dose fall” where students can go back to schools and a more normal life can return – May 11, 2021

Yesterday’s announcement of an accelerated shipment of 4.5 million vaccines arriving in Canada this coming week was indeed welcome news. Perhaps federal officials should have just left it at that.

Getting more vaccines here more quickly will certainly help accelerate the rollout and hopefully get us on the path of bringing COVID-19 cases down and keeping them there. Further to that, it’s not unreasonable that there would be some federal guidance as to what impact this is all going to have and how life might change for those who are vaccinated.

Unfortunately, the federal messaging on this has been rather tepid and uninspiring. We understandably don’t want to oversell and overpromise, but there’s a downside to being overly cautious. Canadians are very much suffering from pandemic fatigue, compounded by the rather dispiriting third wave that’s pummelled much of the country.

We deserve some hope and optimism, and the experience in countries like the U.S., U.K., and Israel is proof that there’s genuine hope and optimism to sell to Canadians. New data out this week further confirms the efficacy of the vaccines we’re relying heavily on, and even further vindicates the first-dose-first, delayed-interval approach that Canada is taking.

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Moreover, though, we need to incentivize Canadians to be a part of the vaccine rollout. If there’s little promise of meaningful change anytime soon, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince sufficient numbers of Canadians to roll up their sleeves and do their part.

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Ultimately, provinces will be the ones to make decision on public health measures, and so far the evidence seems to indicate that the provinces have a much better understanding of this.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe took to Twitter to lament the federal guidelines on what summer might look like, instead touting his own province’s Re-Opening Roadmap which in his words will deliver a “great Saskatchewan summer.”

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Rhetoric aside, the Saskatchewan plan is much more detailed and much more optimistic than the more vague and halfhearted guidelines proposed yesterday by federal officials. If other provinces are looking to cues to take, let’s hope for more Saskatchewan and less Ottawa.

In Alberta, where the third wave has hit perhaps the hardest, the province’s vaccine messaging is much more in tune with what Canadians need to be hearing right now. The “Back to Normal” campaign is touting a message of just that: vaccination is our path out of this mess and back to normalcy. Let’s not be afraid to say that.

If nothing else, though, the guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada are probably preferable to the weird slogan that the prime minister was testing out this past week. Clearly someone thought that the message of a “one-dose summer” setting up a “two-dose fall” was clever and catchy, but it’s really anything but.

Yes, we’re on track to have a significant majority of eligible Canadians with a first dose by mid to late June. That should set us up nicely for a real ramp up in second doses by late July and early August. So, yes, the “one dose summer” slogan isn’t incorrect.

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But what are Canadians supposed to take from that? What does a “one-dose summer” actually entail? I’m sure the Liberals expected the phrase to generate some excitement and buzz, but more likely to leave people confused and underwhelmed.

It often seems odd the extent to which the federal government talks up the vaccine rollout but then downplays the potential payoff of that rollout. Maybe it would be helpful for them to stick to the former and leave the latter to the provinces.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

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