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On Jan. 25, 2020, Canada’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Sunnybrook Hospital. That was just two years ago and since then, Canada has recorded over 3 million COVID cases and more than 34,000 lives lost. Every aspect of our society has been impacted by the pandemic, and its after effects will be with us for years to come.
As we witness large, angry crowds protest vaccine restrictions and mandates, we should remind ourselves of what is truly important — of how we choose to move forward and how we exercise our responsibility for the health and safety of others. It goes without saying we all want this pandemic to end, and with it the restrictions so many have come to resent. But let us also be clear that the hatred, violence and racism demonstrated by some protesters have no place in our society.
Here in Ontario, temporary lockdowns are gradually being lifted, allowing us to return to socializing in restaurants, going to the movies, or enjoying the healthy benefits of working out at the gym. Yet even as we take these steps forward, we must be mindful that our hospitals and our health-care workers continue to work at maximum capacity. COVID patients fill our ICU beds and important surgeries are delayed until hospital resources are no longer overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Following health guidelines is not an infringement on our freedom — it is a road we must take to move forward on the path of healing and renewal, and ensure that our freedom is enduring. I have said before that showing respect to our health-care workers is best achieved when we minimize the impact on their lives, and on the institutions where they work.
For me personally, access to health care is an important measure of my freedom. When it comes to following public health guidelines, I know where I stand, and that is firmly in the corner of science and with our health-care professionals whose courage and dedication to keeping us healthy and safe deserves our gratitude and profound support.
Tony Van Bynen, Member of Parliament, Newmarket-Aurora