In a recent Steinbach Online article, Ted Falk has suggested that the “Endless cycle of restrictions must end.” Unfortunately, while this may speak to a lot of his constituents, it is grievously irresponsible.
There is some truth in Falk’s message. Businesses have gone under. People have lost jobs. Families have been forced to say goodbye to loved ones over video calls.
Without a doubt, this is hard on everyone. There is a great deal of uncertainty. We are under constant low-level stress being cut off from human contact, from our families, friends and communities. We would all love for this to be over and for life to return to normal.
Falk, however, proposes no practical answers on how to get there. He simply says provide vaccines to those who want them, protect the vulnerable, open up and move on. It is nothing short of irresponsible to pander to a small but vocal community that has been railing against public health restrictions for months.
Falk’s simple “solution” ignores some fundamental realities: Because Canada is still behind in vaccination rates, those who want a vaccination cannot yet get one. In addition, new, faster-spreading variants have arrived in Manitoba. These factors add up to a potentially explosive situation.
Most of us will remember what happened in the fall when Manitoba opened up and was, in a short amount of time, facing a thousand new cases and twenty or more deaths per day. Falk has failed to answer a fundamental question here: What has changed? Without answering that question, we risk going right back to that same situation, and maybe a worse one, considering the new variants.
“Protect the vulnerable” has been a rallying cry since last year when Sweden was held up as a model of how to keep things open. But Sweden has struggled, and their infection rate and death rate is far higher than Canada’s. (Deaths per million: Sweden 24th at 1,265; Canada 58th at 578)
Falk appears to be willing to sacrifice lives for the economy, to undermine trust in public health officials and their expertise, and to demand even more of overworked, emotionally drained healthcare providers. He even appears to pander to conspiracy theorists with claims of “repressive limitations” being put in place by governing bodies.
In fact, his position is entirely impossible. No provincial health authority is going to follow Falk’s advice, because doing so would result in more unnecessary deaths and long-term health problems. And yet, here he is, poking sticks at the federal and provincial governments and the health experts they rely on without offering any practical solutions.
Falk may well be following the lead of his constituents, something any good MP should do. But political representation must be done with a sense of responsibility and definitely grounded in reality. And, in this case, Falk should be leading by working with health experts and others in government to get us through this challenging time.