Keep Emergencies Act if needed, hope that it’s not

Just mentioning the idea of suspending certain rights or freedoms to many Canadians is enough to elicit a fiery response.

The very notion of the government stripping freedoms via the Emergencies Act and limiting the amount of time people are allowed to leave their homes, even in the middle of the worst health crisis the world has ever seen, is a hot button issue. If it could save thousands of lives however, it’s an option that at least needs to be explored. An obvious caveat to that would be that the act only be used in an extreme case, with input from medical experts who feel increased precautions are the only way to prevent the breakout from getting any worse.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put some fears to rest on Friday when he said he isn’t planning to invoke the Emergencies Act-at least for now. To do so would give the Canadian government sweeping power over all provinces and territories and restrict the flow of people and goods.

In short, it would be a great tool for the government to use to limit the spread of COVID-19. In order to do so however, it would involve imposing laws that severely limit the freedoms of Canadian citizens. Rules that have never before been put in place.

As tough as giving up some civil liberties may be, it would be worth it in the long run if it meant less strain on the medical system and ultimately more successful outcomes for those who contract the disease.

Already there have been cases of police laying charges and levying heavy fines-upwards of $880-for people who don’t take physical distancing seriously. One case in particular saw an Oakville man fined after he ignored barriers to enter a public park that had been closed.

Fortunately for now there are still options in Greater Napanee to get outside and get some fresh air while still following physical distancing protocols. If the Emergencies Act were to be put in place, access to those walk ways could potentially be taken away.

Confining residents to their homes carries the risk of a whole host of other health issues, though the symptoms of those aren’t as obvious as COVID-19. There’s numerous studies that support the idea that even just a little bit of exercise such as walking can be a huge overall benefit not just for the body, but mind as well. Just another thing to consider before putting the Emergencies Act into effect.

The good news is whether the act is put into place is still up to Canadians-at least, indirectly. If people continue to exhibit common sense and do their part to help slow the spread of the virus-practice physical distancing, only shopping for essential items, postponing all gatherings outside of an immediate family unit and practicing good hygiene, there will be no need for a heavy-handed approach from Ottawa.

-Adam Prudhomme

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