Public health nurse says mask wearing critical to prevent virus transmission

Please just wear your masks. Wallpaper Flare

On July 16, rallies occurred in both Regina and Saskatoon against mandatory mask wearing. Similar movements occurred across Canada and the United States. This comes in the wake of some places encouraging mask-wearing and some businesses and public transportation services making masks mandatory. So why is there so much controversy around masks?

Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan was quoted as previously saying, “There may be a point in time, either on a regional basis or maybe even province-wide, where we will have to go to wearing masks as a mandatory matter … I would far sooner want to have that conversation prior to shutting down our economy.” This prompted a lot of controversy over the legitimacy of making masks mandatory.

A March to Unmask rally occurred in Regina in response, with about ten people showing up, toting signs that said things like “I won’t be muzzled” and “your fear doesn’t take away my freedom.”

Cody Payant, a former candidate and current member of the far-right People’s Party of Canada and one of the attendees of the Regina rally, said that, “My greatest concern [with mandating mask wearing] is the precedent it would set and how the gradual obedience/compliance with the new measures would then be exploited by aspirants of leftist authoritarianism.”

He continued by saying “mandatory mask legislation violates the right to security of person as outlined in our 82 charter.” The charter right he is referring to is found under section 7 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

“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.”

Conveniently, he seems to forget about the right to life, also mentioned in that same part of the charter. 

He goes on to say, “Aspirants of a less gradual creep of leftist authoritarianism fail to understand the value of liberty and freedom, of negative and positive rights, of natural law.”

He continued to state that “we have gone in to 343 billion dollars of debt in Canada in this year alone because of this.” What he seemed to miss was the fact that making masks mandatory would allow for people to return to work safely and could go a long way to getting the economy back on its feet.

Masks have been proven to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Center of Disease Control in the U.S. has stated that if even just 80 per cent of the population wore masks it would do more to reduce the spread of COVID-19 than a strict lockdown. Health officials in Canada have stated that mandatory mask wearing could slow the spready by more than 40 per cent.

A nurse, who asked that her name be withheld due to a media ban, had this to say about masks:

“Wearing a mask is not something that you do for yourself. It will not protect you. What it will do however is protect your family, your friends, and your community. Sure it might be hot, itchy, and uncomfortable, but so is that sweater that your mom gave you last Christmas. If you can wear that sweater twice a year to protect her feelings, you can wear that mask for 20 minutes to protect her life.

I challenge you to find a reason that speaks to you, whatever it may be, to wear a mask and wear it proudly. As a nurse I am required by my employer to wear a mask, but that requirement isn’t why I wear a mask. I wear a mask because I care about the safety of my patients and my coworkers and because I believe in the power of intentional acts of kindness.

While there may potentially be a few people with underlying health conditions that prohibit them from wearing a mask to the same extent as the majority of the population – for example, those people permanently on oxygen – if those of us who are able to mask do mask, we will still be able to slow transmission rates and protect the more vulnerable sectors from infection. With the recent surge of cases in Saskatchewan it is important to remember that coronavirus has not gone away, that everyone is susceptible to it, and that our collective behaviour is our first and best defence against the spread of disease.”

Whether or not masks will become mandatory across Saskatchewan or Canada remains to be seen. As we head into fall, and schools begin to reopen, the possibility of another wave may bring this debate up into the forefront as we must decide how seriously we are going to take protecting the population at large from COVID-19. 

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