CATIE statement on COVID-19 measures

 

April 21, 2021

As Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information, CATIE believes that public health policies and practices must be informed by evidence. That is why we are concerned about  recent COVID-19 measures that ignore science and best practices.

The COVID-19 outbreaks in many parts of Canada have been driven by policy failures: the failure to provide paid sick leave and paid time off for vaccination, the failure to close non-essential workplaces when needed, the failure to provide respiratory protective equipment and ventilation, the failure to prioritize vaccination for the individuals, workplaces and communities at greatest risk, and the failure to address the structural racism and other social determinants of health that place certain communities at greater risk of infection and death.

Rather than implement strategies advocated by medical and public health experts, some governments have enacted measures that ignore public health expertise and best practices: banning some low-risk outdoor activities, instituting curfews that endanger people who depend on after-hours social services, and giving police greater power to randomly stop and interrogate individuals – powers that have been used to enact violence on Black, Indigenous and people of colour in Canada.

Similar to the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics, the impacts of these public health policy failures are being felt most by marginalized communities: racialized people, low-income workers, homeless people, people with precarious housing and people who use drugs.

One of the key lessons of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003, as outlined in the report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health, was that necessary public health measures in an emergency should not be held hostage to political disagreements. We call on all governments across Canada to learn from these lessons, listen to experts, and urgently deliver COVID-19 policies based on science.