Reg Warkentin

Reg Warkentin: What if cure is worse than disease

It can seem impolite if not downright offensive to discuss ending the lockdowns and allowing people the “privilege” of going out to eat, opening their “non-essential” business and working their “non-essential” jobs.

The discussion must be had at a nuanced level that appropriately recognizes preventative measures already in place including those designed to protect the most vulnerable along with hospital capacity, the impacts of lockdowns on mental health, childhood development and the lives, employment and livelihoods of all those affected by a lockdown.

Consider the very young who will have extremely limited socialization and exposure to outside activities during this important developmental stage. When infants should be exposed to new environments and people, they instead have been at home. The true impact of this won’t be known for years until they mature but experts say that infant socialization is the foundation for communication and socialization.

No doubt the impact on school-aged kids will vary. Some will excel academically in an at-home environment others with different learning styles or less-than-ideal home situations and unable to access the supports available at school will fall behind. All have missed on the non-measurable, but equally important friendships, social interactions, and physical activities that are all part of being in-school.

Our economy was not strong going into COVID, but consider for a moment that there are 22,400 fewer people working in Red Deer compared to just two years ago.

Some might have been okay for a while for those with savings and access to Canadian Recovery Benefit, but with a mortgage, vehicle payments and groceries, it’s just not enough to outlast the virus and lockdowns. The stress of dealing with bills without an income is immense and can lead to marital breakdown and mental health issues.

In a survey conducted in the spring of 2020, 52 per cent reported their mental health was either “somewhat worse” or “much worse.” Likely these numbers have increased through this lockdown as many were forced to celebrate the holidays without their loved ones.

Most small business owners don’t have massive pensions or retirement saving plans. They have assets tied up in their business where they’ve invested their blood, sweat and tears. Those assets are depreciating and potentially going negative everyday the business isn’t allowed to operate.

In mid-December it was estimated that 10,000 restaurants across Canada are closed for-good as a result of COVID. Undoubtedly that number will continue to increase the longer this continues.

Clearly the purpose of the lockdown is to ensure adequate room in our hospitals by reducing the spread of the virus. At this point we have had the virus in our lives for a year. Vaccines are currently being administered to front-line staff and seniors, yet we hear reports of new strains and extreme new lockdown measures, creating concerns this could go on indefinitely.

As of writing this we are in the fourth week of the new stronger, mandatory restrictions affecting all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

It’s estimated that Canada won’t have enough vaccinations until the fall of 2021. Until then, we don’t know how many will get the virus and how many will require hospitalization. We don’t know how many more businesses will go bankrupt and how many families will struggle with the impacts of unemployment via their marriages and mental health. How long will people be laid off and reliant on social assistance? How many will suffer from the mental health strain, potentially even with their lives?

This is something of incredible importance we need to have an honest conversation about. It needs to include our medical professionals, our statisticians, and all of us who are faced with the impacts of this virus and the measures designed to contain it. Clearly public health must be the highest priority, but measures taken must be founded in science, be reasonable, and considerate of their long-term implications to our society.

Reg Warkentin is policy and government affairs manager with the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer and District Community Foundation needs to sell more tickets to host a raffle that will benefit the Women and Girls Endowment Fund.
Red Deer & District Community Foundation grants $167K to local women’s initiatives

Initiatives supporting women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse individuals will receive a combined… Continue reading

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

About 110 students from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools participated in March for Life rally in Edmonton May 9. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school has COVID-19 case

St. Joseph High School in Red Deer confirmed a positive COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Lacombe High School logo.
Two more COVID-19 cases at Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe Composite High School confirmed two more positive COVID-19 cases at the… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

A readers suggests using a hairdryer to open a tight jar lid. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Hints from Heloise: The handy hairdryer hint

Dear Heloise: Whenever you have trouble opening a tight jar lid, set… Continue reading

Professional-quality tools don’t just last longer, they’re also more comfortable and better balanced. This drill and impact driver are perfectly balanced on the triggers, which is ideal. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: In praise of professional-grade tools

When I was 10 years old, my dad began renovating our kitchen,… Continue reading

There are two confirmed COVID-19 cases at Red Deer College. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Central Albertans were promised a university

Central Albertans were promised a university

Most Read