Completing Canada’s Exit From Pandemic

21CQ Topic President's Blog


Irvin Studin


1 year ago


The Canada Science and Policy Committee to Exit the Pandemic issued its National Exit Plan and National Exit Table in February of this year.

The Plan covered eight (8) systems, addressed all regions of Canada, and spanned four (4) months. Let us remember that the eight systems addressed in the Exit Plan – a Plan premised on high-energy, high-choreography exit across all systems at once, were:

  • Covid-19 public health
  • Non-Covid-19 public health
  • Business & the economy
  • Education
  • Institutions
  • National unity
  • Social fabric
  • International

The contents of the Exit Plan were briefed out at scale to key decision-makers across Canada, at all levels of government and society, politics, policy, medicine, science and the education sector.

The Exit Committee, having declared Canada’s pandemic effectively over (from a systems understanding), has met again to take stock and update the National Exit Table – this time for the summer and into the fall of 2022.

The purpose of the update is twofold:

  • to unwind all remaining “kinks” or “incoherences” in national exit efforts (“defence”); and
  • to shift from “defence” to “offence” in national exit efforts in order to assure high-energy equilibria across the eight crisis systems.

View and study the updated National Exit Table in full detail (XLS)

Voir la mise-à-jour de la version française de la Table nationale de sortie (XLS)

I. Unwinding Remaining “Kinks” or “Points of Incoherence”

For certainty, in order to properly exit the pandemic across the systems, the Exit Plan makes it clear that it is not enough to simply “lift” restrictions. Insufficient energy applied to the other systems in crisis will only consolidate low-equilibrium national living, or indeed expanding crises, across these same systems.

Having said this, while most Canadian jurisdictions and large-scale institutions have, consistent with some of the most basic (minimum) elements of the Exit Plan, lifted or suspended most Covid-period restrictions or mandates, there has been insufficient attention paid to the detail of such moves. The result has been a patently low-energy removal of restrictions and mandates, with huge inconsistencies, caprices and “stickiness” pervading the national social space, compromising the country’s ability to apply energy across all other areas of state and society (the eight systems) in its exit from the pandemic period.

Masking. The opposite of compulsory masking is not “choice” – whatever the seduction of this term on social media. Nay, the opposite of compulsory masking, on exit, must be strong advice for Canadians, in almost all cases, to remove masks. Ours must not, if we are to succeed in exiting the pandemic with energy, be a society that masks simply for form, out of anxiety, or for no reason at all (or in the middle of nowhere on a rainy day). The Exit Committee now advises that Covid-19 masks be expressly removed as a regular feature of Canadian society, except (strictly) for those who are immunocompromised in congregate indoor settings during periods of high community transmission. But children in schools or on sports fields, adults alone in cars, or individuals walking on the sidewalk should now not be wearing masks.

Vaccines. The widespread removal or suspension of vaccine mandates and vaccine passports has seen the continuation of incoherent vaccine requirements applied by the federal government for travel by plane or train (nationally and internationally alike), multiple universities and colleges (although ever-diminishing in number), and many summer camps, private schools and sporting organizations for youth. Multiple institutions, including universities, have suspended the requirement with explicit wording threatening the “reimposition” or “reintroduction” of such a requirement at any given point in the future, and in some cases requiring future employees or students to vaccinate even when the general requirement has been lifted.

A “Wild West” of vaccination (and masking) requirements has sprung up across Canada. This is an absurdity that must be remedied immediately, for it compromises the national exit (including in economic and national unity terms) and has deep destabilizing effects on social cohesion across the country.

In the case of capricious vaccination requirements, given that the current vaccines have been largely moot since the Omicron variant, continued strict vaccine requirements applied to specific demographics (e.g. young males, with larger susceptibility to pericarditis/myocarditis adverse effects) can only conduce to net harm scenarios. When such vaccine pressure is applied for simple access to basic goods like education, recreation or sport, perverse social circumstances are created. (A 15-year old soccer star in Toronto must still take the Covid-19 vaccination in order to participate in the Toronto FC Academy, even as the vaccine is now moot against Covid-19, and even if he figures within a demographic that remains susceptible to myocarditic injury from mRNA vaccination. This means that the boy effectively assumes vaccine injury risk simply to access that which would have been uncontroversial in Canadian society two years ago. Or he is denied the benefit of sport simply because of his refusal to assume such vaccine injury risk in order to touch that which should be uncontroversially accessible in Canada. This “boxing-in” and “boxing-out” of young men – which repeats itself for several other Canadian demographics – is an especially perverse consequence of the current incoherence in national vaccination dynamics coming out of the pandemic.)

This unruly state of affairs must be reversed with immediate effect, and governments and institutions must invest the requisite time, effort and attention to detail to ensure that Covid-19 vaccination requirements and pressures, quite outside of any residual official work to vaccinate or boost immuncompromised and/or elderly Canadians (especially on updated vaccines), are ended comprehensively across Canadian society. To be clear, there must be full and immediate prohibition on capricious or “entrepreneurial” or decentralized or proprio motu imposition of vaccination requirements by any and all organizations and groups, including as a condition or precondition for participation, non-expulsion or the access of any goods or services, private or public alike.

More broadly, the Exit Committee, building on our original February Exit Plan, supports a shift away from strict vaccination as a monolithic health strategy for reckoning with Covid-19, in favour of intelligent intervention – in form and timing, for specific vulnerable populations – through antivirals, therapeutics and, inter alia, more general prevention techniques.

Ottawa and all provinces must also now formally acknowledge that any individual who has recovered from Covid-19 naturally develops robust protection against severe disease in the event of subsequent infection (similar to any benefit from formal vaccination).

Finally, in order to ensure that future vaccination campaigns enjoy the confidence and trust of the population, national and provincial governments must reach out to all Canadians who have been injured or endured lasting or debilitating side-effects from the existing Covid-19 vaccines. While these cases will be in the minority, they must be acknowledged with full transparency and given full dignity on any reasonable understanding of citizenship and solidarity in Canada.

Single-Point Decision-Making. High-energy exit from pandemic requires that local decision-makers at municipal or public health levels not have veto power over exit decisions – or indeed the capacity to reverse exit decisions, or otherwise undermine these on social media or through other public interventions or insinuations. In Ontario, for example, section 22 powers (under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act) exercised in chaotic, capricious and decentralized fashion throughout the pandemic should be curtailed or removed with immediate effect in order to assure high-energy exit across the systems by decision-makers who have greater responsibility for overall systems.

In particular, no public health officials in Ontario or other provinces should be allowed, under any circumstances, to publicly hint at delays, disruptions or cancellations to schooling in anticipation of the new school year this coming fall.

II. Shifting to National Offence in the Exit Plan:

Education. Education and learning loss or outright collapse among Canada’s youth remains the most severe human crisis of the pandemic period, compromising the country’s ability to compete and succeed in the future. The summer must see all hands on deck, in all provinces and territories, to ensure that all kids will be enrolled in stable and real, in-person(!) schooling in time for the fall. All Covid-period online schooling must be reduced to an absolute minimum, all “third bucket kids” must be found and reintegrated into education, and learning catch-up and consolidation among all of Canada’s five million school children must form an absolute national priority. (Recent discussion of Grade 13 in Ontario, the province most affected by education collapse during the pandemic period, is most welcome by the Exit Committee. This is, in fact, a proposal stemming directly from the Exit Committee’s work over the last several months, and from the Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids before that.)

Critically, as we look ahead to the new school year in fall, there must be firm, unconditional, across-the-board public and felt commitment from all provinces, all school boards, all principals and all medical-scientific officials across the country never again to dare close schools – and certainly, as noted, to preclude any last-minute online litigation of the merits of “opening” schools “on time” in September. The Exit Committee is alive to the possibility of hysterical debates on Twitter against paralyzing scholastic decision-making in late August/early September in certain provinces or school boards. Any such hysteria must be calmed by decision-making, at leadership levels, that guarantees and protects the stability of in-person schooling for all of Canada’s children – with an energetic and happy resumption of schooling in September.

Physicians and Other Professional In-Person Services. Why are many physicians, civil servants and other professionals in Canada still working from home or online exclusively? There is no reason for such apart from the stickiness of intra-pandemic habits. This state of affairs must be reversed, at scale, immediately – again, in the service of high-energy national exit across the systems.

All physicians must be providing full, regular access to bona fide in-person health care for all Canadians. Any Covid-era incentive structures or norms militating against such in-person health care should be unwound with maximum speed and seriousness.

All federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations civil servants – the largest class of Canadian employees in the country, and therefore critical to high-energy national exit – should now be working maximally in-person, with maximum contact with the population they serve. Seeing the country and receiving direct feedback from the population, in all regions, in order to address key on-the-ground issues and correct mistakes of policy and administration, are essential to effective choreography of the national exit across the systems in the world’s second largest country.

Travel. The resumption of intense national and international travel is, most evidently, key to high-energy national exit across the systems – especially in respect of the economic, national unity, social and international systems. To this end, Canada must immediately remove all “sticky” restrictions and obstacles to smooth travel, by air, rail and sea alike, from the pandemic period.

All remaining restrictions on Canadians unvaccinated during the Covid period are without scientific or policy merit, and must be lifted immediately, with no threat of reversal.

All clumsy Covid-period arrival protocols and queues at Canada’s major airports must be remedied immediately, with detailed, on-the-ground presence by in-charge officials to unwind all kinks in Canada’s arrival and departure logistics with maximum speed.

Business. If inflation and cost-of-living concerns are today in the headlines, economic exit from the pandemic still requires a reversal of the economic conditions that destroyed significant chunks of Canada’s economic structure, reputation and confidence during the pandemic period.

Business confidence in Canada and its leading provinces requires (and is still awaiting) firm, public undertakings by political leaders, across all parties, never to close the economy again – except in the most extreme circumstances, and certainly not without full compensating energy and liquidity in the event of forces majeures.

For businesses forcibly destroyed during the pandemic period, there must be full compensation. For Canadian-owned and led business enterprise to thrive post-pandemic, there must be working capital readily available. Governments and banks must ensure that their operational posture favours such disbursement, absent which there is veritable risk of choking Canadian enterprise in the service of appearances or otherwise pious fiscal or financial positions that underpin a general economic torpor.

Finally, as the Exit Committee stressed in February, an emergency national committee must be struck immediately in order to categorically unwind all Covid-period interprovincial and interterritorial regulatory and physical restrictions – all with the goal of unwinding any enduring psychological barriers still pockmarking the national political, economic and social union.

International. In a world of post-pandemic destabilization and broken processes of globalization (including supply chains, diplomacy and human travel and exchange), Canada must not sit tight and hide. Decision-makers, leaders and specialists must be travelling the world extensively to refashion contacts, gain information and, critically, learn the lessons of Canada’s mistakes during the last two years from countries and regions that performed better in specific system areas.

Canada must, under no circumstances, try to “forget” the last two years, pretend they did not happen, or fool itself into believing that the pandemic and our national catastrophes were “once-in-a-century” experiences. For a clever country anticipates repetition of such catastrophes – and at far greater intensity! – in the very near future.

Let ours be a clever country forever after!


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