Since filing court actions to end the lockdowns in Alberta and Manitoba the Justice Centre has been inundated with supportive as well as hostile emails and phone calls. "Why are you not supporting the government's efforts to save lives?" and "Surely public health must take priority over minor and temporary inconveniences?" Concerned citizens ask.
Related to these two questions, but even bigger, is the question courts will need to deal with about the impact of lockdowns on public health: How are these restrictions on Charter freedoms impacting 38 million Canadians?
In April of 2020, I wrote to all of Canada's health ministers and chief medical officers, asking about what impact lockdowns would have on public health. Eight months later, no meaningful or specific responses have been provided by any of them.
When it came to estimating deaths from COVID-19, our politicians and politically appointed doctors spared no efforts in producing scary projections or models, based on the wildly inaccurate predictions of Neil Ferguson of Imperial College. But when it comes to estimating the number of deaths that lockdowns have caused and will cause, politicians and chief medical officers have not provided the public with any models.
Perhaps they lacked the time and resources, when struck by panic in March and April, to think about the consequences of lockdowns. But when you consider how many hundreds of thousands of civil servants our federal and provincial governments employ, that is no excuse.
Eight months later, and there is no valid reason for governments failing to provide Canadians with models for each of the multitude of predictable lockdown harms.
There is abundant data available that tells us that loneliness is bad for your health; isolation is bad for your health; isolation facilitates abuse; contact via zoom and skype are insufficient to sustain healthy relationships; excessive alcohol consumption is bad for your health; staying indoors is bad for your health; lack of exercise is bad for your health; poverty is bad for your health; depression is bad for your health; anxiety is bad for your health; delayed cancer diagnosis is bad for your health; lack of hugs and other physical contact is bad for your health.
This list doesn't include Canadian lockdown deaths resulting from cancelling over 200,000 surgeries and delaying over 500,000 medically necessary MRIs and CT scans to diagnose cancer and other life-threatening conditions, nor does this list include the increased deaths from suicide and drug overdoses that lockdowns have caused.
Does anyone seriously question that lockdowns lead to (or increase) loneliness, isolation, alcohol consumption, staying indoors, poverty, depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, zoom-only interactions instead of personal ones, and the absence of hugs? Anyone?
The other side of the same coin is the good things which lockdowns have now made illegal or next-to-impossible to do: singing, socializing, engaging personally with friends, playing team sports, watching live performances on stage, and watching live sports events.
Singing is good for your health; socializing is good for your health; spending in-person time with friends is good for your health; playing team sports is good for your health; watching a live performance is good for your health; watching sports with other people is good for your health.
Does anyone seriously question that lockdowns have removed these sources of joy from our lives, by making them punishable with fines of $1,000 or more? Yet politicians, and the hundreds of thousands of civil servants who work for Canadian governments, have not provided the public with a single model or analysis of any of these obvious lockdown harms.
Lockdown measures are bad for our health. Very bad. There ought to be much more to public health policy than stopping one virus which poses no threat of harm to about 90 percent of Canadians. Chief medical officers should be concerned about how many Canadians are harmed—and killed—by the toxic and deadly advice that these "public health experts" are providing to politicians.
Politicians continue to justify violating our Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble and worship with the stated goal of "saving lives." If they are actually serious about saving lives, the Charter requires them to do two things. First: demonstrate with evidence that lockdowns have saved lives; speculation and conjecture are no substitutes for evidence and science. Second: make an honest and concerted effort to find out how many Canadians have been harmed or killed by lockdowns, and the exact nature and extent of all the lockdown harms to public health.
Politicians have failed abysmally to protect vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, who make up at least three quarters of COVID-19 deaths in Canada. Instead, they continue to inflict harm and damage on tens of millions of healthy Canadians who are not in any way threatened by this virus.
Politicians have yet to explain to the Canadian public how lockdowns are actually doing more good than harm. It's a question they will have to answer in court. How sad that it takes court actions to force governments to come clean with the Canadian public and to respect the Charter.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
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