Masks for all – the policy imperative in Canada

RNAO has been for several weeks calling on public health authorities in Ontario and in Canada to immediately implement mandatory masking in certain settings. Specifically, we follow the Masks4Canada letter from healthcare professionals asking that mandatory masking (or face covering) policies be established for “ACT”:

  • All indoor spaces outside the home (such as schools, shops and businesses)
  • Crowds (anywhere that is difficult to distance from others)
  • Transit (public transportation).

Anyone with a relevant medical condition or disability should be exempt from this policy, and the same should go for young children under the age of two. We recommend distribution of free masks to populations that may be vulnerable and/or at higher risk, in order to reduce inequity.

Furthermore, these measures should be implemented through an educational approach and not a policing one. We recommend avoiding fines, arrests, or criminal penalties to enforce the policy. Instead, we encourage politicians to role model and encourage mask use, same for our medical officers of health and all of us as leaders in health care. We are also asking government to engage in campaigns to help the public understand how to wear a mask properly, and the importance of masks for health and economic recovery.

The evidence on the effectiveness of masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 grows daily and by now is irrefutable. In RNAO’s view, any further delay in the implementation of mask policies constitutes poor public health policy that will cost lives and have serious economic impacts.

For an accessible summary of the evidence and arguments, check this article, this website, another website, and a Facebook page.

RNAO calls on public health officials to ACT today: some already did – please RT!

If you want to hear an expert on why we should push for Masks for All, join us this coming Monday, July 1, 6:45-8:00 pm with Dr. Jennifer Kwan, one of the organizers of #Masks4Canada. The webinar is open to all, including reporters. Please register here.