Dear Mr. Premier, Mr. Churchill and Ms. Chender,
I am writing today on behalf of Protect Our Province - Nova Scotia. As you may know, PoP-NS is one of a network of community-based groups across the country that are working to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in their communities. Our members come from a variety of professions, including education, health, science, public administration, information technology, planning and law. Since convening last summer, we have:
proposed evidence-based policies to reduce COVID-19 transmission and create an accessible and equitable society;
advocated for greater government transparency to ensure Nova Scotians have access to timely and accurate communication and data;
collected and shared reliable information on COVID-19 and tools for mitigating its worst impacts; and
undertaken a variety of community care initiatives aimed at filling gaps left by government inaction.
The government’s decision to end virtually all public protections against COVID-19 one year ago has had devastating impacts on individuals and communities. Since that time, at least 575* people have died from the disease (excess death data suggest the real number is likely much larger), hundreds of thousands have been infected, tens of thousands have developed long-term sequelae, and as-yet incalculable numbers are suffering systemic injuries expected to result in long-term illness and disability. We are particularly concerned about the possible long-term impacts of the disease on children.
As data trickle in and research improves our understanding of COVID-19, it’s becoming ever clearer that the decision to allow the virus to rip through our province was deeply flawed. Nova Scotians have suffered terrible losses – from the immeasurable grief of losing loved ones to a preventable disease; to missed business, employment and educational opportunities; to failing healthcare and education systems. The Houston government’s approach to COVID-19 imposed massive emotional, psychological and financial costs on nearly everyone.
Despite this, the three of you have remained mostly silent in respect to the pandemic over the past year. To the best of our knowledge, the Premier hasn’t publicly acknowledged the fact the pandemic is ongoing since April 2022. None of you has fully and publicly recognized the massive toll the pandemic has taken and is continuing to take, nor offered condolences or meaningful support to those who have lost so much since protections ended.
We understand you’re scheduled to return to the Legislature on March 21st, which is, of course, the first anniversary of public protections being lifted. We suspect some of you may be tempted to treat the anniversary as a date to celebrate, but it is our fervent hope that you will instead take time to reflect on your responsibilities as elected officials to care for all Nova Scotians (including those who are most vulnerable), and on the painful toll the rushed return to normal has taken. We ask that on the first day of the Sitting you:
stand in the House and acknowledge the reality that nearly ten times as many Nova Scotians died during the third year of the pandemic as died in either of the first two years;
offer sincere condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones;
observe a moment of silence in honour of the victims, and
commit to doing more to ensure Nova Scotians are able to live more safely with COVID-19.
We’re all tired of COVID-19. But the pandemic isn’t over and we shouldn’t behave as if it is. Ignoring reality is causing far too much harm. To be clear, we’re not suggesting new “lockdowns”. There are many less-restrictive interventions that would do much to mitigate COVID-19’s worst impacts, including improved indoor air quality standards, required masking in essential places, more support for those who fall ill, timely access to vaccination, testing and treatment, and robust public information campaigns. It’s time to implement them. Nova Scotians need real leaders - those with the courage, compassion and integrity to admit they were wrong and pledge to do better - to lead us through whatever challenges lie ahead.
Should you wish to discuss any of the above, I and other PoP-NS representatives would be available to meet with you.
Conquerall Bank, NS
*Correction: There have been 682 deaths since Houston took power, and 575 since protections were lifted in March 2022.