A Vernon politician is questioning whether Canada’s response to COVID-19 may be worse than the virus itself.
In an article published on Scott Anderson’s Facebook page April 2, he questions why Canada isn’t protecting its most vulnerable “and letting the virus otherwise run its course.”
Over the past month, the province has banned gatherings of 50 or more people, shutting down bars, sit-down restaurants, salons and personal services.
Anderson argued the long-term shutdown of small- to medium-sized businesses and the temporary “economic lockdown” may cause more harm than the virus, which has already killed 152 Canadians (April 3).
“While it makes sense to take sensible precautions like frequent handwashing and social distancing,” Anderson wrote, “it does not make sense to destroy our economy and burden our kids with an unbearable debt load in the process.”
A seemingly endless list of businesses have been forced to temporarily lock up shop and lay off staff; some newspaper companies have folded completely due to lost advertising revenue, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians are feeling the immediate economic squeeze of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the prime minister, British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix and top doctor Bonnie Henry suggest the pandemic could last months.
If that’s the case, Anderson wrote, there will be a radical increase in layoffs, credit card debt and recessionary corrections. He said he worries about a “full-blown depression.”
“We may well be looking at soup lines,” he wrote.
Anderson said big corporations will be able to outlast this for months, but smaller, mom-and-pop shops and working employees will be lucky to outlast the economic struggles for three more weeks.
“Sooner or later, fixed costs, like rent, food and utilities come due, and to keep on top of that, they need cash flow,” he said.
Anderson points to Sweden’s response as an option.
He said Sweden is taking a more relaxed approach, trusting the public to adopt voluntary measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. While handwashing and social distancing are encouraged and groups of more than 50 are not allowed, life continues as usual — for the most part.
Only the vulnerable populations — the elderly and the immunocompromised — are locked down, Anderson wrote, citing a CNBC article.
“Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and we are operating with incomplete information at this time,” Anderson wrote. “But, for the most part, healthy people do not seem to have much existential risk.”
Dr. Bonnie Henry told the press “no one is immune” to the COVID-19 virus on March 31, and British Columbians must stay apart.
“It’s good that British Columbians have actively participated in the health measures being asked of them during this pandemic,” Anderson wrote.
But the virus, he wrote, “is like an economic atom bomb… it has far reaching implications.”
“Instead of shutting down our economy, why are we not protecting our most vulnerable and letting the virus otherwise run its course, utilizing hospital beds for those from outside the vulnerable group who need hospitalization?” Anderson wrote.
“Would that not be far more beneficial a solution all-round than what we’re doing now?”