Editorials - Aug. 12, 2021
With hundreds of people protesting against Alberta’s plans to end mandatory isolation periods, scale back contact tracing and limit testing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health has now apologized for any confusion in communication but held fast to the plan.
Even with rising case counts and the second-lowest percentage of fully-vaccinated people in the country, Alberta is electing to focus on other areas of Albertans’ health, including opioid deaths. The rest of the country, especially health professionals, is waiting with bated breath to see how the experiment works out. Most other provinces are slowly lifting restrictions, while monitoring case counts and hospitalizations to ensure that vaccination numbers are high enough to protect everyone, especially those under 12 who are not yet eligible for the jab. Quebec is investigating a passport system to allow the vaccinated citizens to return to normal without worry, while protecting the unvaccinated from infection by limiting their participation in higher risk activity, while many workplaces, including the federal government, are considering mandatory vaccination policies for employees returning to workplaces.
Eventually all jurisdictions will shift to treating COVID-19 as an endemic illness that will always exist, but it is nerve-wracking to see the different ways provinces are handling it and even more confusing to watch the public respond. One group protests lockdowns while another group protests what they see as the premature lifting of restrictions. – DS
No easy answers
Quietly and without much debate or fanfare, Quinn, a member of the Canadian women’s national soccer team, became the first non-binary transgender athlete to win an Olympic Medal. In this case, it was gold.
Born Rebecca Quinn, the athlete who now just goes by Quinn came out as transgender last year and now uses gender-neutral pronouns. This is a watershed moment for the transgender community that was overshadowed by more pronounced debates about Olympians like Laurel Hubbard, a female weightlifter from New Zealand who was born male but began identifying as a woman in 2013. While Quinn is non-binary, she was born a woman and competed against other women. The debate surrounding Hubbard has proven to be more complicated.
Though Hubbard didn’t threaten for a position on the podium, she was the topic of much debate. After the competition, the medalists were asked about Hubbard by a reporter and, after a lengthy silence, all three women politely declined to comment. Many talking heads have also weighed in, with some celebrating Hubbard as a pioneer and others mocking her inclusion, suggesting it invalidates the Olympics.
The Tokyo Olympics proved to be a watershed moment for the LGBTQ community, which, if it were an unofficial Olympic squad, would have won 32 medals - 11 golds, 12 silvers and nine bronzes.
Medal wins by Quinn and other LGBTQ athletes stirring up little or no debate shows how far the world has come in regards to acceptance. However, the debate around Hubbard and other athletes like her is complicated and there are no easy answers. The International Olympic Committee members may have to put on their thinking caps, but international sport is trending in a more accepting direction. – SL
The foundation is there
When the provincial government announced last week that it wouldn’t be requiring COVID-19 vaccines for children returning to school, and that schools would be able to resume with specific activities that hadn’t been permitted in the past 18 months, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. While some were questioning the idea of not requiring vaccinations, others were wondering how a school could be safer than other events and sites that hadn’t been allowed to open at full capacity yet. Still more were puzzled with why the provincial government wasn’t enforcing rules it already had in place.
While any kind of COVID-19 passport or vaccine requirement is still up in the air, the simple fact is that provincially-recognized schools already require specific vaccines before children are allowed into class.
While it is true that there are ways around those requirements (and those loopholes should be closed and exemptions should be based on medical reasons only), the fact is the government already requires students to be vaccinated against a number of troublesome viruses.
With this system already in place, it would be easy for the government, which keeps saying that COVID-19 vaccinations are key to controlling the spread of the virus, to add COVID-19 vaccines to the list for those old enough to safely receive them. While it’s true that children in general aren’t as affected by the virus as older individuals, there’s going to be no herd immunity to protect immunocompromised students in the schools or immunocompromised relatives.
The fact that we already have required vaccinations proves this decision is a political one and that’s the last kind of guiding light we need when dealing with pandemics and other health crises. – JDS