Jun 23rd, 2020
TORONTO: The Justice Centre has released a comprehensive Charter analysis of the violations of Ontarians’ freedoms to move, travel, assemble, associate and worship, as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Entitled “Unprecedented and Unjustified,” this Charter analysis of Ontario’s response to COVID-19 addresses:
- the nature of the government’s lockdown measures and how they violate Charter freedoms;
- the Charter’s requirement of government to justify these violations;
- the inaccurate claims made about COVID-19 in March and April of 2020;
- the economic harm caused by lockdown measures;
- the relationship between a prosperous economy and the ability to pay for good health care;
- the negative impact of the lockdown measures on health care; and
- a detailed analysis of the Command Table’s April 3 COVID-19 modelling and April 20 COVID-19 modelling.
Unprecedented and Unjustified questions whether the Ontario Government has properly considered COVID-19 within its global and historical context. The 1957-58 “Asian flu” and the 1968-69 “Hong Kong flu” each claimed one million lives around the world, when the world population was less than half of what it is today. In more average years, the flu sadly takes between 291,000 and 646,000 lives, most of them vulnerable elderly people who are already sick with one or more serious health conditions.
Likewise, the primary impact of COVID-19 has been on residents in long-term care homes – approximately 75% of all deaths have occurred in these homes, the population of which represents approximately half a percent of all Ontarians.
As of June 22, 2020, COVID-19 had apparently killed 473,000 people around the world, although this number includes people who died of other causes while also having this virus. While very tragic, the number of deaths with COVID-19 is within the range of the annual flu and, like the flu, primarily impacts the elderly and vulnerable. Yet the Ontario Government’s lockdown measures are based on the now disproven notion that COVID-19 is an unusually deadly killer that everyone should be alarmed by and that is a dire threat to all segments of the population.
“The concern that COVID-19 is going to result in hundreds of thousands of deaths was already disproven many weeks ago, so why is the lockdown still in place?” asks lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre. “The Charter serves to protect Canada as a “free and democratic society” where governments respect the fundamental freedoms of Canadians to move, travel, assemble, associate and worship. The onus is on politicians in Ontario – not the citizens who elected them – to justify violations of these fundamental freedoms.”
“The Ontario Government’s lockdown measures obviously violate the Charter freedoms of Ontarians to move, travel, assemble, associate, and worship. The daily routines of millions of Ontarians, and their ability to earn a living to support themselves and their loved ones, have been dramatically impacted since large segments of the public and business spheres were ordered to close,” adds Justice Centre staff lawyer Lisa Bildy.
“Tens of thousands of Ontarians were affected when hospitals were reserved primarily for COVID-19 patients, and many of these individuals are still suffering on long wait lists today. It will be months or even years before we know the full death toll of the decision to cancel and postpone tens of thousand of medically necessary surgeries, after counting all the cardiac patients who died while waiting for heart surgery, and after counting additional cancer deaths caused by lack of timely diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile, hospitals have not been operating at anything approaching full capacity, even when the curve was already flat,” continues Bildy.
In Ontario in April there were 1,092,000 fewer jobs than in February, with unemployment more than doubling from 5.5% to 11.3%. Of those who did not lose their jobs outright, most have been forced to work – and earn—much less.
“Unemployment, poverty and social isolation predictably lead to increases in anxiety, depression, mental illness, alcoholism, drug overdoses, family violence and suicide,” notes Carpay. “These mounting public harms are the ongoing collateral damage from Ontario’s myopic focus on stomping out all spread of a virus that is nowhere near as dangerous as once represented.”
“Health care requires money, and first-rate, excellent health care requires a lot of it. A prosperous economy is the only way to generate sufficient wealth to pay for good health care. We don’t need to choose between the economy and saving lives; we choose both or we choose neither,” continues Carpay.
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires the Ontario Government to answer some crucial questions: In June of 2020, why should schools, universities, places of worship, and many businesses and recreational facilities, remain even partially closed? Are strict and costly conditions for opening based on facts and evidence? Or are they based on speculation and unfounded fear? When will the Ontario Government stop violating Charter freedoms and destroying livelihoods by imposing and enforcing lockdown measures that appear to have caused more harm than good?” questions Carpay.