A new 85-page report from the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, provides an outline of Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The self-described purpose of the report is "to examine the state of public health in Canada and to stimulate dialogue about issues critical to the health of Canadians."
The report, however, makes no mention of the government's botched guidelines on mask-wearing.
The first reference to masks in the timeline provided within the report is from April 7, when the government first recommended that the public wear masks as "an additional layer of protection" against COVID-19.
Yet according to Blacklocks Reporter, Tam argued that masks were ineffective or possibly even harmful to wear on at least seven separate occasions prior to April 7. Dr. Tam dismissed mask-wearing as recently as April 3, and as recently as April 1st insisted that such measures could be harmful.
“The effectiveness of the use of non-medical masks has not been well demonstrated,” Dr. Tam said on April 1. "You have to be careful you’re not putting your finger in your eye, or when you’re pulling your mask on and off you’re not touching your face in other ways.”
The recommendations against mask-wearing as a protective measure against COVID-19 came in spite of the fact that Canada was actively shipping masks, along with other medical supplies, to China at the time, where the pandemic originated. The government says they were following the advice of the World Health Organization.
The report does not discuss confusion caused by these earlier recommendations, it did not discuss how such misinformation may have harmed the health and safety of Canadians, and it failed to consider how such guidelines impacted public trust in health officials. By the time the government had begun to recommend mask-wearing, COVID-19 had been present in Canada for two and a half months.
“It is absolutely mind-boggling,” Conservative MP Tamara Jansen stated before the Parliamentary Health Committee. “We are trying to get clarity and transparency with regard to these issues of mask use, and what Dr. Tam knew.”
The lack of discussion on the topic within the report ignores previous calls from MPs to investigate the misinformation. “I remember the chief medical officer saying that not only were masks not helpful but that they were harmful,” said NDP MP Don Davies in a hearing from earlier this month. “These were all arguably somewhat forgivable errors back in March or April. It’s now October.”