Dear Premier Rankin

I would like to congratulate you on your new position and wish I was writing this letter under better circumstances. I would like to give you a chance to reconsider and reflect on some of the decisions that were made before you took office.

One of my major concerns is the mask mandate. The debate as to how well or effective they are is not my argument for this letter. What is of serious concern to me is the results and effects they are having on Canadians as a whole and in my home province.

We are seeing an increase in violent attacks against people who have mask exemptions across Canada. We are witnessing social shaming at levels I have never seen before and it is quite troubling. Acts of violence and social shaming are now justified and considered righteous behaviour if someone does not wear a mask or is not ‘perceived as’ adhering to the mandates. When you mix fear and self-righteousness, anyone who has read a history book knows that humans can commit some of the most horrific human rights violations toward one another.

I have raised concern before you took office, to the past premier, about the fact this would lead to social shaming to a level of affecting one’s mental health. My warnings fell of deaf ears and I hope your ears are more open to what I am saying.

It has come to the point where human rights have eroded toward people with mask exemptions and has escalated into violence with a ‘mob mentality’ rule in some situtions. It is only a matter of time before this results in someone being seriously harmed or worse, all in the name of ‘safety’. Citizens have taken the law into their own hands and forcefully assault and perform a citizen’s arrest in other provinces, such as BC and ON. No matter which side of the argument you find yourself on regarding masks, pro or against, the results of this ‘social shaming’ will be the same and produce the same outcome.

What will the government’s response be then? To what extent will you be deemed liable? This whole atmosphere was solely created by the government’s decisions and mandates. However, that will be up for the courts to decide at that point.

You can claim it is justified, but, I would rather be infected by covid than be assaulted by 5 people in a Canadian Tire store, choked, and beaten (as over 95% don’t have symptoms or experience only mild ones). I know people who have medical mask exemptions that are in a weakened state and an attack like this could have very easily cost them their lives. There are many people in society this is having negative impacts on and are being disregarded because ‘for many their safety comes first’. Even mask wearers are the brunt of this social shaming as well, for example should the mask fall below the nose for a few seconds, or someone thinks you should be wearing two, or your not eating fast enough, etc. What about the deaf? I have a friend who reads lips because he is very hard of hearing, got to be really good to read them through a mask? Was any of these possible concerns even considered before it was inacted?

It would be easier to live with if masks were recommended and be a personal choice for all Nova Scotias, including the workers. No one should be forced to wear a mask or compelled. All provinces need to start an awareness campaign to combat social shaming before it gets worse in the name of health.

I foresee lawsuits and other impacts caused by the decisions of Canada’s Leaders. If you want a shock, do a study/investigation on how this is affecting our school children, they have been the forgotten ones.

In light of these violent attacks and social shaming, I would like all Premiers of all respected provinces to reconsider their stance on the mask mandate. Why are we in a race to see which province will commit the most grievous human rights violation first? This is a contest I do not want to win nor even be in the running for.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my concerns.

Chuck Zwicker

Response received on March 17, 2021

Dear Chuck Zwicker,

Thank you for your letter dated February 28, 2021 regarding use of non-medical masks. As Senior Executive Director responsible for Public Health, Mental Health and Addictions, and Acute Care in Nova Scotia, the Premier has asked me to respond on his behalf.

The evidence on non-medical masks has evolved through the pandemic, and our public health direction has evolved along with it. We have learned that non-medical masks are effective, in combination with other core personal public health measures, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical mask is required in most indoor public places. More information can be found here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/masks/

All businesses, organizations and workplaces need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans, including any additional mask requirements for areas that are not accessed by the public. They can choose to refuse entry or service to people who are not wearing a non-medical mask when required in indoor public places, unless they have an exemption identified in the Health Protection Act Order (PDF). Businesses are likely able to find solutions that work in their settings if they are aware of any customers’ mask exemption. Where possible, we also encourage businesses and organisations to accommodate people and employees who cannot wear a mask for valid medical reasons and do not require them to have a document confirming it.

We are taking a cooperative and positive approach to mandatory masking rather than an enforcement approach. We know the vast majority of Nova Scotians who are able to wear a mask are wearing one. We also ask that people do not assume that others are breaking the rules when they are not wearing a mask. If someone with a mask exemption experiences any challenges when accessing a business, they could take the issue to the owner/manager of that place; if this does not resolve the issue, they could contact the Safety Division at the Department of Labour and Advanced Education at 1-800-952-2687 or laesafetybranch@novascotia.ca to relay their experience.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.

Sincerely,
Vanessa Chouinard
Senior Executive Director
Public Health, Mental Health and Addictions, and Acute Care
Department of Health and Wellness

My response sent March 22, 2020

Thank you for your response, however, it did not address the issue of ‘Social Shaming’. Nor did it address the violent aggressive behavior we are a witness in public due to some being shamed by others. You are ignoring and passing the buck.

The question was about the effects of ‘social shaming’ with the Government and Public Health’s role in creating this problem. There is a shared responsibility that the Government and Public Health must consider and be fully aware they helped to create and foster. This policy (mask mandate and others) was implanted with ‘No thought’ or concern for possible negative outcomes or what the side-effects would be in the short or long term? The first month of the pandemic we simply were not aware of what we were dealing with, however, it has been a year and it is very clear what we are dealing with now. Covid is simply ‘Not as advertised’.

For example, were any studies done on this topic in regards to the possible negative outcome that could result in enacting such a mandate? If not, why not? If so please provide?

Also, I find it concerning that everyone assumes there are only medical exemptions, this is not always the case. What about the Human Rights-based exemptions? I have a Religion based exemption for not wearing a mask. However I am not concerned about the police in NS. They have not violated my rights and have often been professional to me thus far, but the other citizens have socially shamed me. It is now considered justifiable behavior if someone is not wearing a mask to condemn first and ask questions later. This behavior is a direct result of Public Health and Government ‘fear mongering’ regardless of intent, the results are the same. When you have the population scared stiff over a virus that has over 99% survival rate and will cause no adverse effects for most who are infected. This is the definition of ‘irrational fear’.

The mask mandate should be dropped, we all know that if someone is charged under the act you cannot enforce it. It is a violation of our charter rights plain and simple. Your justification for all this is because they reduce the spread, but what if what you are doing is causing more harm in other areas? Tunnel vision is quite easy to have when you are in a state of fear but sooner or later the dust settles and the lawsuits and legal action will prevail.

What will the Government and Public health do to combat ‘social shaming’ that has resulted from the mandates that we enacted?

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