Lockdowns imposed by Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's Provincial Health Officer, are slowly killing my mother, and so many other people.
Before Dr. Henry restricted Charter rights and freedoms in March of 2020, my 80-year-old mother enjoyed a vibrant, active and healthy lifestyle. She sang in two different choirs, each with weekly practices and with special performances at Christmas and other times of the year. My mother attended monthly board meetings of different non-profits that she supported. She swam and worked out at the gym several times each week. She enjoyed having friends over for dinner. My mother traveled to visit family without fear of breaking any law. She was free to attend religious services if she chose to do so.
All of these healthy, life-giving, joy-imparting activities have been outlawed by Dr. Henry at various times in the past 13 months, some of them through to the present, and some of them permanently. Many scientists and doctors have condemned the lockdown measures typical in Dr. Henry's British Columbia, and elsewhere in Canada.
Before lockdowns, my mother enjoyed international travel about twice per year, visiting countries she had always wanted to see, and escaping the Canadian winter for a week of sunshine. After working hard her whole life, and managing her money wisely, she deserves nothing less. But now, thanks to federal government restrictions on Charter rights and freedoms, my mother faces the prospect of being locked up in a hotel for three days, possibly in some secret federal facility for as long as two weeks, upon returning to Canada.
Dr. Henry's lockdown has harmed my mother's mental and physical health, and continues to harm my mother's well-being, by destroying her ability to pursue a healthy lifestyle that would otherwise add enjoyable years to her life.
Health involves more than simply reducing one's chance of dying of Covid.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) explains it: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity… The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition."
The BC Government, in theory but certainly not in practice, adopts a similar approach, stating that the Provincial Health Officer "is responsible for monitoring the health of the population of BC" and "delivers reports that are in the public interest and annual reports on the health of the population and government's progress in achieving population health targets."
Note that Dr. Henry's job description mentions "population health targets" (plural) not "population health target" (singular).
Any family physician will tell you that there is much more to good health than merely avoiding one illness. There is abundant scientific data available telling us that loneliness and isolation are 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 and anxiety are bad for your health; delayed cancer diagnosis is bad for your health; lack of hugs and other physical contact is bad for your health.
Singing is good for your health; socializing is good for your health; seeing friends in-person 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.
Dr. Henry ignores the fact that her lockdowns increase public health problems like loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression, excessive alcohol consumption, drug overdoses, staying indoors, lack of exercise and social interactions being reduced to a two-dimensional computer screen. She makes it difficult (and in some cases illegal) for my mother (and everyone else in BC) to sing, engage with friends in person, hug people, participate in sports, watch live performances on stage, attend a house of worship, and generally enjoy life.
All of us are going to die. Death can therefore only be delayed, not prevented. The appropriate lens through which to evaluate the seriousness of cancer, suicides, car accidents, lightning strikes, heart diseases and viruses is the lens of life expectancy. Publicly available data on Canada's federal and provincial government websites tell us that Covid has only a negligible impact on years of life lost (YLL). It is simply not a virus that warrants this publicly promoted degree of fear.
The median infection survival rate from Covid is 99.77 percent, and 95 percent for those over 70. While Covid is more serious than the annual flu, the difference does not justify the outlandish response to it.
Covid is real, and fear of Covid is exaggerated. A virus that has only a negligible impact on life expectancy is not something that should dominate, let alone control, our daily lives and how we live them. Dr. Henry and her counterparts in other provinces have failed to protect the vulnerable 10 percent of Canadians: elderly people already sick with serious health conditions like cancer, heart diseases, and emphysema. For the remaining 90 percent of Canadians, our chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident is greater than our chance of dying from Covid.
Covid-phobia is irrational, and promoted daily by politicians and government-funded media. Stripping people of their human rights and dignity; destroying lives and livelihoods; severely restricting our fundamental Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble, and worship: Dr. Henry's measures are neither kind nor safe. They harm our health and well-being.
Dr. Henry should stop ignoring the WHO definition of health, and stop hurting millions of British Columbians with lockdown measures that clearly harm their health. She should stop fostering fear and anxiety about a virus that has a negligible impact on life expectancy, and instead promote calm.
Dr. Henry, if you are reading this, I beg you to be kind: please stop harming my mother, and so many other people in BC who suffer daily, not on account of any virus, but solely because of your lockdowns.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is suing the federal government and provincial governments to end lockdown measures.