One in four is a significant minority. And in this case, a scary one.
A recent poll says 27 per cent of Canadians feel a jail term is acceptable for those who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In other words, the Constitution be damned. Is this what we have become?
Canadians used to believe in civil rights, including the right to refuse medical treatment. For many of us, that seems to no longer be the case.
I understand the feeling. The government has promoted a fear-based message for two years. Do this or our health care system will collapse. Do that or you will die. It has been all stick and no carrot.
Fear is a very effective motivator, as totalitarian governments the world’s over have discovered. But it only works for so long. Then people begin to question it.
We haven’t reached that point in Canada. To me it seems the fear factor continues to rise.
Back in November a poll was released that indicated that about 70 per cent of Canadians thought employees who were unvaccinated should be fired from their jobs. Now, apparently a sizeable number of people have taken that a step further and are loss of freedom rather than just loss of livelihood.
Where do you think it will end?
Masks seem to work very well–for people who use them properly (I see a lot of people wearing them infeffectively). The governments were hesitant to recommend them at the beginning of the pandemic, although I personally adopted their use as soon as it became evident Covid was here, and while they were still readily available in stores. I’m also enjoying not getting sick with colds and other seasonal viruses (knock on wood here), which I do attribute to wearing a mask. As a person with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, wearing a mask has also allowed me a lot more freedom in stores and other public places–since the masks filter a lot of the chemicals to which I am sensitive. I hate that drugstores seem determined to put their perfumes right near the only entrance to their stores–and perfumes will almost immediately cause me to lose consciousness. I’ve enjoyed not passing out these 2 years, and my husband has enjoyed not having to keep watch on me while we’re out. All of which is to say the masks really are effective and I expect to be wearing one long after Covid is over. I don’t expect masks to be mandated after Covid, but I do expect not to be harassed for choosing to wear one.
I do expect most people will drop the masks – but I agree there will be no stigma attached. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain required for those taking public transit.
In my province (Alberta) the average age of death from covid is 78 years. The vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are in people over the age of 70. And while that population is the most vaccinated, the vaccinated in that age group still make up between 21 to 25% of the hospitalizations and deaths in the last 120 days.
So, it seems to me that the problem isn’t the unvaccinated younger people (and truckers) – the problem is that older people do not have as robust immune systems even when the are vaccinated AND roughly 3 to 5% of them have chosen not to get vaccinated.
No matter what interventions have been used, survival of the fittest seems to be the end result.
It must be nice to be living your life as though there’s no pandemic. Guess you’ve been lucky so far. But luck will only hold out for so long! I don’t agree that people have the right to hurt others. I hope Canada’s Criminal Code and Government continue to support that. Lawbreakers are–and should be–imprisoned, to protect the rest of us, among other reasons. Why should Covid be different? By the way, Germany has 1417 Covid deaths per million population, whereas Canada only has 907. That’s Canada only having 64% of Germany’s death rate due to Covid. Might want to revise those facts before your next entry. Maybe the German method isn’t as good as Canada’s, after all. Btw–it’s not “fear-mongering” when one states the truths that happen to be scary. Covid is very scary.
I certainly haven’t been living my life as if there were no pandemic. I don’t know how you would have gotten that impression. Nor do I endorse the hurting of others.
I have no problems with government arresting protesters who break teh law, as they did in the 2020 pipeline protests that closed highways ande rail lines. Oh wait, they didn’t do that, did they?
I didn’t mention Germany in this post, and they do now have a higher death rate than Canada from COVID-19. I still think Germany’s handling of the pandemic was better than Canada’s.
Seems to me that the issue of vaccination has to do with ICU admissions and healthcare resources / hospital burdens, as well as the ongoing impact of COVID on the average Canadian’s life. While it is true that we optimistically assumed that vaccination would ensure lower transmission (oh the good old days before Omicron), it still remains true that the highest rate of hospitalization and ICU admission (and death) is for those who are unvaccinated. So there is a high degree of disproportion where a relatively small number of people choose not to use available prevention (vaccination) and then end up using a much higher proportion of available hospital resources. I haven’t heard a single finding that disputes this. So, I understand why people who have been vaccinated see this as unfair, selfish, unjust and even “criminal”…especially if the ongoing public health measures have resulted in hardship for one’s self or one’s family.
Regarding being harmed by the decision of others, I am. I am waiting for medical specialist resources which have been delayed for many months due to the COVID epidemic. I am one of thousands of people in this situation. Other hundreds or thousands of people have suffered damage or death due to waiting beyond what were already stretched waiting lists. Do I think that an individual who refuses a vaccine is in the same category as a drunk driver who takes a life? No, because cause and effect are much more diffuse and complicated in the case of illness vs. drinking and driving. But do I understand how the vast majority of Canadians who have been vaccinated and yet still suffer the impact of COVID in very real ways are becoming intolerant of people who refuse to do what is (at least on balance) the “right” thing.
Finally, I think you are using the “right to refuse medical treatment” as too broad a moral argument. If I have cancer, I can choose to refuse the chemotherapy and die sooner. It’s my right, because I do not cause (medical) harm to others. But in many jurisdictions, I cannot send my child to school without certain vaccinations. Why? Because it increases the very real risk of medical harm to others. I could keep my child away from the vaccines, but I then lose the right to send them to public school. Currently, Canadian society is trying to figure out what a just corollary would be for people who choose not to be vaccinated. This is different from “refusing treatment”.
I’m not sure blaming COVID or the unvaccinated for the problems of our health care system makes sense – politicians of all stripes have failed to maintain what we had, and not taken population increase into account. They gambles a pandemic would never happen, and now it has. Yes you have been harmed by the decision of others – but those decisions were made a decade or more ago (see Thursday’s post).
Other jurisdictions don’t seem to have the same issues. When my friends in Canada were telling me they couldn’t see their doctor, I could get an appointment in Germany the same day. COVID was not a reason to shut down the system, though there were more precautions like masks and waiting outdoors before an appointment.
I understand your frustration. But do you believe the solution is jailing those who refuse to be vaccinated?
The world is changing. We can choose how we respond to that change. As uncomfrtable as it may be, I want to stand up for the rights of those who are making unpopular, perhaps even stupid, choices. We don’t jail people for stupidity. Yet.
A requirement to get vaccinated against Covid is more like a requirement not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, or to wear seatbelts. Almost no one disputes these restrictions which do save lives, if only your own. I have been double vaccinated and boosted yet I have to be so careful because of the unvaccinated. Their choice is restricting my life. Your freedom to choose ends when you choose to hurt someone else. I think we used to all agree on that.
Vaccinations have given people a false sense of security. We have the same vaccination status – but I don’t let the fear restrict me. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone can be an asymptomatic carrier. It appears to me that the choice to be unvaccinated is not hurting the general public, 90% of whome have received at least one jab.
We are still in agreement that freedom does not include hurting others, but other than political rhetoric I am not seeing much hurt here. The unvaccinated are not the only ones contracting COVID-19, and the 95% effectiveness rate for the vaccines seem to have been optimisitic given the new variants.
We also used to worry about the state arbitrarily and without justification imposing its will on our lives. That worry seems to have vanished – which should worry all of us.