Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure for me to be before your committee today.
I want to first recognize the Government of Canada's quick motion on the development of programs during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. This pandemic has been devastating to those infected and of course their families, and debilitating economically to many, both individuals and businesses.
I would also like to talk a bit today about how much it has affected our research enterprise. It's a stark and shocking reality to civil society about our most vulnerable citizens, particularly our frail seniors in long-term care. In my humble opinion, it's critical for this committee and all Canadians to learn from this global pandemic and better prepare for the future with COVID and other infectious diseases that will indeed visit us in the future.
I do want to mention that Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Deputy Prime Minister's office, many ministers, staff and the entire public service, including the Canadian Armed Forces in the case of our long-term care community, have been accessible and available and reactive, at least to those outreaches that University Health Network has been fortunate to make, as have our local MPs and their staff.
Our focus, in my view, has to be on protecting the most at-risk populations as well as protecting providers, who have struggled, as we know, with personal protective equipment and the very fragile supply chain and research ecosystem. No doubt there will be a new world order for health care and health after this pandemic. That does call us to look at a new model of funding and the structure to fund health care from coast to coast to coast. Health care costs have outstripped funding for a number of years. In costs to the continuum of care, nowhere has this been more obvious in this pandemic than for our frail and those living in sheltered environments.
We also want to look at a new social contract, in my view, between Ottawa and the provinces and territories as we move to a pan-Canadian approach post pandemic. We know that this pandemic is likely to revisit us in other waves in the not-so-distant future. I would encourage the committee to engage providers and, more importantly, consumers and families, as well as the three levels of government that we have worked with throughout this pandemic, including the municipalities, which have been so essential to public health. Long-term care and congregate care must receive a deep dive and a better understanding of where we go from here.
I would also encourage a look at asking what problems we are trying to solve that are clearly defined, and why they are being solved, in this order. For me, number one is looking at frail and vulnerable Canadians and their subpopulations. Number two is looking at the supply chain and the lack of Canadian production of PPE, drugs, ventilators and a number of other issues related to access as well as a healthy stockpile. It surprised me to discover that one of the things keeping me up at night during this pandemic, as the CEO of Canada's largest and most research-intensive hospital, the University Health Network, is actually the production and reception of swabs. It's not our highest technology, but it's an incredibly important one in a pandemic.
I will close by focusing on the very fragile hospital-based research ecosystem and the vulnerability of the people who make that up. These are all people who live very fragile.... I don't mean the principal investigators but their staff, research assistants, graduate students, research nurses and post-doctoral fellows. The funding for this work is even more fragile. Most of it has been funded by third party dollars and foundations and industry, all of whom have been decimated in many ways by this. The research tap has been firmly turned off for this population, which could result in the loss of a highly skilled workforce at a time when we need research colleagues more than ever.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.