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Don’t take recommendation from the Conservatives on COVID-19

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“The pandemic will not be over,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra reminded the nation Tuesday, as the federal government introduced stringent new measures to assist thwart the unfold of COVID-19’s new Omicron variant in Canada.

The foundations — necessary on-arrival testing for a lot of air travellers and quarantining in authorities services for some — are powerful, and might be costly and time consuming. At a time when Canadians appear to now not be afraid of the virus and deal with it as a light inconvenience maybe it was a wanted reminder that life — particularly for a lot of exterior our borders — will not be again to regular.

Alghabra, flanked by Well being Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, demonstrated that the federal government has discovered a number of classes from its pandemic administration, chief amongst them to speak higher, and to embrace a cautious and clear strategy.

The ministers talked about 12 instances that the foundations may change at any second because the scenario evolves. (That’s for these of you planning a trip overseas.) Canada has now blocked travellers from 10 African nations due to Omicron, though the variant has additionally been detected in 13 others.

The ministers additionally urged Canadians to stay “cautious and prudent.” Public well being measures received’t assist cease the unfold of the virus if Canadians don’t abide by them.

Get vaccinated. Social distance. Put on a masks. Respect capability limits.

Duclos introduced it dwelling. “I used to be reminded just lately by [public health] officers that if we, if Canadians and their governments, had acted in the identical method as we noticed in america,” he informed reporters, “we’d have seen in Canada 60,000 extra individuals dying of COVID-19.”

Though the Liberals have been criticized for slapping a ban on journey from choose nations (notably South Africa which did essential work in detecting, sequencing, and reporting the variant), politicians of all stripes — from Premier Doug Ford to Bloc Québécois Chief Yves-François Blanchet — praised the federal government’s swift motion on the border. (NDP Chief Jagmeet Singh supported the transfer too however urged Ottawa to assist vaccine patent waivers to permit extra nations to vaccinate their susceptible populations.)

Blanchet argued Ottawa must also do extra whereas urging motion to repatriate Canadians now caught in nations with flight bans.

(Based on figures launched beneath the Entry to Info Act, Ottawa spent greater than $59.5 million evacuating Canadians all over the world between Jan. 1 and July 8, 2020. That quantity doesn’t embrace the evacuation flights from Wuhan, China, or loans offered to Canadians to pay for his or her journey again dwelling.)

At the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government was rightly criticized by the Conservatives for failing to shut the borders rapidly. It was a Liberal MP, Thunder Bay—Wet River’s Marcus Powlowski, who requested Canada’s chief public well being officer again in January 2020 whether or not all travellers coming in from China must be quarantined. Dr. Theresa Tam responded that there was no proof asymptomatic individuals wanted to be quarantined.

After all, we all know extra now. We additionally know COVID-19 can unfold by means of the air, that masks are helpful, and that vaccination, testing and isolating are key to preserving individuals protected and permitting us to dwell lives exterior of our properties.

Throughout this summer season’s election marketing campaign, some vaccine-hesitant protestors pointed to complicated, ever-changing directives from public well being officers as proof “consultants” couldn’t be trusted.

Justin Trudeau stays prime minister largely as a result of the voters determined his authorities might be most trusted to deal with the pandemic. The Liberals’ push to impose vaccination mandates on public servants and on passengers travelling on planes and trains was opposed by the Conservatives. The Tory chief, Erin O’Toole, refused to inform Canadians what number of of his candidates have been unvaccinated; he pledged that any who weren’t could be examined day by day to strive to make sure they didn’t unfold the virus.

After the marketing campaign, the Conservatives argued it was time to eliminate expensive pre-departure PCR testing at land borders for vaccinated travellers and to maneuver to a speedy antigen take a look at for these arriving by air. (The Liberals scrapped the PCR take a look at just for journeys shorter than 72 hours.) On the similar time, O’Toole argued there must be no hybrid Parliament, that every one MPs must be within the Home of Commons in particular person — the place they can not bodily distance — and that nobody must be allowed to know what number of of his MPs stay unvaccinated.

I’ve been informed of two: Niagara West MP Dean Allison and Oshawa MP Colin Carrie. Allison’s marketing campaign supervisor informed his native paper he has a medical exemption. Carrie informed constituents two medical doctors suggested him he “can not obtain a at present permitted vaccine as a result of a recognized autoimmune illness and antagonistic reactions to different vaccines,” however two Conservative sources say he doesn’t have a sound exemption as per Ontario’s medical exemption steerage. His workplace has twice refused to verify that he has a sound medical exemption. Thus far, Carrie has been allowed to take a seat within the Commons.

Because the Conservatives press the Liberals to do extra to forestall a fifth wave, it’s understandably arduous to take them severely. Within the phrases of Alghabra, “Forgive me for not taking recommendation from the Conservative get together.”

Althia Raj is an Ottawa-based nationwide politics columnist for the Star. Comply with her on Twitter: @althiaraj

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