[The following was sent to my MP and others]
I would like to express my disagreement with the Canadian and Ontario government policies in response to the COVID-19 virus epidemic.
On March 23, the federal government announced a threat to enforce “social distancing” guidelines (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-covid19-premiers-address-1.5506473).
Also, the Ontario government announced the shut-down of all “non-essential” businesses (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/covid-19-ontario-to-close-all-non-essential-businesses-three-new-cases-in-ottawa/ar-BB11Amza).
“Speaking in Toronto, [Premier Doug Ford] said only grocery stores, pharmacies, takeout and delivery restaurants, essential manufacturing industries and supply chain suppliers — as well as the province’s liquor stores — will be allowed to remain open. A full list of businesses allowed to stay open will be released Tuesday, he said.”
This definition of “non-essential” is very arbitrary. Most people depend on the income from their job to pay for their basic needs, and their job depends on someone’s business staying open.
To me, shutting down the economic and day-to-day activities of Canadians in this way is destructive. What will happen to our ability to pay our bills, to keep our homes, to feed ourselves, to pay for prescription medicines and look after our family members adequately after another two weeks (or another month) of these policies? The logical result is much worse than anything this virus is doing.
Look at the official statistics for this virus (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html).As of March 24, this page indicates that there are are 1,959 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 27 deaths. Of that total, there are 588 cases and 8 deaths in the province of Ontario.
The domestic response to this virus is therefore out of proportion to its impact by comparison to other causes of death in Canada. For 2008, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/migration/phac-aspc/publicat/lcd-pcd97/pdf/lcd-pcd-t1-eng.pdf):
For all ages, total deaths: 238,612 from all causes. These included 71,948 from cancer, 69,945 deaths from circulatory system diseases, 20,728 deaths from respiratory system diseases, 12,018 deaths from nervous system diseases, 11,535 deaths from mental disorders, 10,234 deaths from unintentional injuries, 10,053 deaths from endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases, 9,769 deaths from digestive system diseases, 5,289 deaths from genitourinary diseases, 4,704 deaths from infectious & parasitic diseases.
Deaths from suicide in 2017 is 11.7 per 100,000 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/434539/death-rate-for-suicide-in-canada/). Based on the population being 35,151,728 in 2016 (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/12-581-x/2017000/pop-eng.htm), that means there were about 4,100 suicides in 2017.
The death rate for meningitis is about 0.2 per 100,000 which calculates out to about 70 deaths total in 2017 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/434424/death-rate-for-meningitis-in-canada/).
The death rate for “influenze and pneumonia” (these are combined) in 2017 was 20 deaths per 100,000 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/434445/death-rate-for-influenza-and-pneumonia-in-canada/) which comes out to a total of over 7000 deaths.
“Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Canada. Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and about 1 in 4 will die from cancer.
“In 2019, an estimated 220 400 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer and 82 100 will die from cancer.”
Think of all the Canadians who are dying from cancer while the government and media and corporations focus on coronavirus.
Considering these death statistics, consider the effects of inadequate or zero income on nutrition and medical treatment. What are the psychological effects of social distancing on personal happiness and on reproductive fertility? What effect is there going to be on suicide rates? What level of emotional distress is caused by the fear of the virus, the lack of income and the feelings of helplessness that are likely to result? What happens when people can’t afford gas or car maintenance?
Lets take a look at the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html What constitutional authority allows governments to shut down our economic means of survival – our ability to pay for housing and food so that we can live? Are these policies constitutional? These principles are legal facts. These are also morally and philosophically justified realities which many people are being led into a denial of through weak, one-sided arguments:
The Charter refers to a “guarantee of rights and freedoms.” Note the word “guarantee.”
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
“(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
“(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
“(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
“(d) freedom of association.”
With “social distancing” and “self-isolating” measures, the government, major corporations and their media organizations are interfering with “freedom of peaceful assembly,” and “freedom of association” – and also with freedom of religion.
With their censorship efforts against alternative views, they are interfering with “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”.
Quoting from the “Mobility Rights” section of the Charter:
“(1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
“(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
“(a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
“(b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.”
Note that the Charter guarantees the right to mobility, whether you agree with all of that or not. But, in spite of this, the government wants everyone–symptoms or not–to stay in their homes. But this has never been done before.
Note that the Charter guarantees the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province and yet the Premier of Ontario has shut down many businesses, and the Canadian Prime Minister tells people to stay home–never mind their economic needs.
Is the seriousness of this virus enough to justify a violation of these fundamental freedoms and these economic and mobility rights?
In fact, how many people are going to die or become seriously ill because they and their family members are not mobile and not able to act independently in their own economic interest?
And I also want to quote these reminders from the “Legal Rights” section as a response to whatever other policies are being considered:
“7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
“8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
“9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.”
And that is just a few of a long list of very relevant and important legal rights.
Note that number 7 refers to the right to “security of the person.” In my opinion, this implies that a person has a right to be in charge of their life–to live securely enough without fear so that they are able to provide for themselves (and their families) and survive economically.
Most of us have to deal with serious problems in our lives (other than this virus) that require our ability to exercise a free conscience as to what is our highest priority day by day. Drowning out our ability to think straight and act freely by subverting our priorities to an anxiety-creating, monomaniacal and exaggerated message–which also threatens our freedoms and our economic well-being–is not a morally legitimate activity by governments, corporations and media.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns.