COVID-19: Duelling Governments [Updated]

On Friday, both the Saskatchewan government and City of Regina declared states of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some of the municipal regulations mirrored those enacted by the province. But whereas the province’s regulations prohibited gatherings of over 25 people, Regina city council restricted gatherings to five people or less. The city regulations, which were to take effect today and last for a week, also included closure of non-essential retail outlets such as clothing, toy, furniture and shoe stores.

Saskatoon activated its Emergency Operations Centre, but did not pass any additional restrictions on businesses and public gatherings as Regina had done. But on Sunday, the Saskatchewan government announced that it would be rescinding Regina’s restrictions. The Saskatchewan Party government justified the move by saying it wanted to ensure regulations were consistent across the province.

Under Canada’s antiquated constitution, provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over cities via s.92 of the BNA Act. So the province certainly has the power to rescind Regina’s regulations. But whether it should or not is another matter.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Duelling Governments [Updated]”

COVID-19: Safety Tips

Four rabbits demonstrating the proper technique for social distancing

A person can be infected with COVID-19 for up to 14 days before showing any symptoms. While pre-symptom transmission of the virus is possible, medical experts currently think it is less common than post-symptom transmission. Symptoms of infection include runny nose, fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

COVID-19 is commonly spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Transmission can occur through close personal contact, or by touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Scientists studying the virus have determined that it can remain detectable for up to three hours in the air, four hours on copper, a  day on cardboard and 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

If you have cold or flu-like symptoms you are asked to self-isolate to limit your contact with other people unless you have been directed to seek medical attention. To reduce the possibility of transmission, practice proper cough/sneeze etiquette by coughing/sneezing into your elbow. Practice social distancing, too, by keeping two metres between yourself and other people. And you should also wash your hands frequently (and thoroughly) with soap and water.

For more information visit Health Canada.

COVID-19: Federal, Provincial & Municipal Response

Government responses to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic have been coming fast and furious in the last few days. To help people get up to speed on what measures have been taken and how they might impact on them in the days, weeks and months to come here’s a breakdown.

Canada

With many Canadians facing financial hardship the federal government has announced an $82 billion package to provide short-term relief to workers, families and business owners. These measures include special GST and Canada Child Benefit top-ups, an Emergency Care Benefit for workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave and an Emergency Support Benefit for self-employed workers who are not eligible for Employment Insurance.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Federal, Provincial & Municipal Response”

Sad Irony: COVID-19 and the Environment

With our March 26 print publication, like pretty much everything else around the world, suspended, we’re making an effort to revive our blog.

We can’t match the capacity of the CBC to cover the local, national and international impacts of the COVID-19 situation, but one side consequence that I would like to highlight is the sharp reduction that’s occurred in greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution in countries that have experienced significant outbreaks.

China, obviously, heads the list, with NASA reporting that satellite data shows the lockdown there has “slashed” air pollution due to drops in transportation, industrial production, power generation from coal and oil and more — resulting in much clearer skies.

Italy, another hard hit country, has experienced a significant decline in emission levels too. While some tales of wildlife entering quarantined cities around the world are overblown, due to a lack of gondola and cruise ship traffic, water is reportedly running cleaner in the canals of Venice and various Italian ports on the Mediterranean, revealing a vibrant, but previously hidden, marine ecosystem.

As the pandemic spreads in other countries, and economic activity grinds to a halt, similar environmental impacts will likely be observed.

So at a time when humanity is experiencing our gravest crisis in living memory, the health of our planetary ecosystem, which sustains many millions of plant and animal species besides ourselves, seems to be improving.

What does that say about how out-of-step we have become with our home planet of Earth?

Photo credit: Taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968