Whitehorse Daily Star

You are creating stressful divisiveness

Ed. note: this is a letter to Premier Sandy Silver.

By Whitehorse Star on November 26, 2021

Ed. note: this is a letter to Premier Sandy Silver.

Last week, CBC Airplay interviewed Dr. Seema Marwaha, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and editor-in-chief of the health information website, regarding COVID-19.

Two things she said stood out. First, if the world wants to get ahead of COVID variants, then countries that have not received any vaccines should be given priority (and help) over countries, like Canada, that are now offering its citizens booster shots.

Second, she said vaccines alone will not be the answer. She said we cannot abandon those health measures we know work, such as wearing masks in public, keeping our social bubbles small, social distancing, limiting gatherings and travel.

She acknowledged this will require a fundamental shift in our thinking and our behaviour. We should not expect to return to “normal”.

The government did us no favours dropping all protection measures Aug. 4 of this year, declaring Yukon open for business and travel – despite mounting evidence of the Delta variant gaining momentum down south.

Masking, distancing, size limitations on public events; gone in a heartbeat. Is anybody really surprised we are once again experiencing a surge in infections and finds ourselves back in an emergency lockdown?

We were told earlier this year by the previous CMOH that Yukon would be in a safe place once we were 75 per cent vaccinated, achieving herd immunity.

We are now closer to 90 per cent, garnering a pat on the back from Canada’s chief medical officer of health (CMOH), but no accolades from our own CMOH.

The herd immunity goal posts seem to be a moving target. COVID outbreaks continue, and helping with the spread are vaccinated Yukoners and visitors, including those with two shots occupying hospital beds.

We need to worry less about the 10 per cent unvaccinated and focus on those of us who believe we’ve taken a magic pill and no longer need to respect the Safe 6.

All Yukoners should continue to embrace those health measures that have shown time and again to lessen COVID outbreaks and turn around the ones we do have.

Government is demanding its employees declare their vaccination status or face punitive measures.

The acting CMOH was asked whether the most recent COVID deaths were of the vaccinated or unvaccinated. He said he could not disclose that information to protect the individuals’ right to confidentiality.

Yet, in less than a week, all government employees must make their vaccination status public. Why the double standard?

And the vaccine mandate begs the question: will those public servants who received their Moderna vaccine nine months ago require a booster to avoid forced leave with no pay?

And will this decree be announced annually because we know vaccine protection wanes?

Just like the flu shot, only you don’t have to have a flu shot to go to work; you can even bring the flu with you.

Late last week, Yukoners were surprised, especially teachers and their association, that unvaccinated teachers have the option of rapid testing.

How can the government support this option for some of its employees but not all?

Rapid testing of government employees, provincial and municipal, is an option to mandatory vaccines being used in provinces like Alberta. It is a viable option for many state and federal employees in the United States. There is no reason it will not be effective here.

If there are concerns, this will be just another burden on our health care system. Pharmacists can administer rapid testing, as is happening in Alberta, and it is not publicly funded.

Government is responsible to all Yukoners, including the unvaccinated.

You are creating divisiveness and unnecessary stress with the vaccine mandate for public servants.

We are a small jurisdiction with a small population that has an amazing vaccination rate. And that rate will only increase as Yukoners continue to voluntarily get vaccinated.

You don’t need to threaten people with their livelihoods at this time. Patience, greater information-sharing, supporting the Safe 6, time and a little caring would go a lot further.

Premier Silver: as you have implored the rest of us, be kind.

Harvey Jessup

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.