Saskatchewan tosses masks and vax passports and people want Ontario to do the same
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has just made the landmark decision to get rid of proof-of-vaccination requirements, mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions that have become second nature to many Canadians, making his province the first to do so in the country and sparking a flurry of chatter on social media.
Though Ontario residents may not usually have much reason to talk about the goings-on in the prairie province, many are understandably intrigued by the move, having either grown weary of ongoing pandemic measures here at home or fearing the consequences of getting rid of them.
While most Canadians oppose the disruptive trucker convoy that continues to protest vaccine requirements and other government-imposed rules, the COVID-19 fatigue is undeniable, with business owners and advocates in particular calling for further supports and an end to closures.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is among those in support of Moe's announcement today, with President and CEO Dan Kelly saying in a tweet on Tuesday that a growing number of public health officials nationwide "are questioning the ongoing value of vaccine passport regimes," and that residents should "expect many other provinces to announce similar plans shortly."
@fordnation Dear Premier Ford, Saskatchewan has lifted their vaccine passport requirements. Please do the same for Ontario, we need to move on with our lives and stop this divisive policy that has no meaningful health benefit whatsoever. Please let us go back to our normal lives.— Lisa (@SpringMorning92) February 8, 2022
It seems that many Ontarians, at least, are indeed hoping for that to be the case, and with the province's chief medical officer of health saying just days ago that our province needs to "reassess the value of" our proof-of-vaccination policy, it could very well be a possibility in the near future.
Many noted that when Ontario released its new phased reopening plan at the end of January that there was no end date provided for either mandatory masking in public indoor places or vaccine passport requirements, despite the fact that the plan extends well into March.
Premier Doug Ford later said that though he believes the province will get back to normal "in March sometime" and that "we're going in the right direction," he can't guarantee that mask mandates will come to an end anytime soon. "I think it really protects people," he said when speaking to Belleville's CJBQ Radio on Jan. 26.
But now, citizens are wondering if Moe's bold move will prompt Ford and his team to do the same.
"Today, with Omicron, the benefits of the proof-of-vaccination policy no longer outweigh the costs. This policy most certainly has run its course," Moe said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
"So it's time for us to take a step back in living with COVID and make every effort to get our lives back to normal. It's time for us also to heal the divisions within our communities over vaccinations."
Ontario needs to follow suit to Saskatchewan!!!! 🙄— iamTaii™ (@SexyShantai) February 8, 2022
He is advocating that after vaxpasses are dropped on Feb. 14 and mask mandates by the end of the month, residents do "their own personal risk assessment" and not judge others for their decisions to wear a mask or not, to get vaccinated or not.
"They may come back with a different decision than what you might arrive at. And that different conclusion... should be respected and it should be accepted."
Business closures and other orders have certainly taken a toll on the overall well-being of the Canadian public, with unprecedented spikes in mental health issues, delays to lifesaving surgeries, the loss of people's livelihoods and worse.
Of course, measuring these losses against the loss of lives to the disease itself and its impact on the healthcare system is not easy, and the debate has stoked divide among the population that has peaked with the recent convoy protests in Ottawa and Toronto.
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