Hey folks, I just wanted to provide a copy of the notes I will be sending the legal team when I get confirmation and pay the retainer. Hopefully this information will offer clear perspective on where we are coming from and give them a jump start on the research they will be doing to provide their qualified, expert legal opinion on the case in the coming days/weeks. Here is what I will be sending them. If you think anything should be added, omitted or changed, please let me know!
Fundraiser Details: https://fundrazr.com/infactcharterchallenge
88% of people in a CBC poll disagree with masks being mandated: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/poll-should-people-be-forced-to-wear-masks
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend masks where transmission is low, noting there are negative impacts and the science/ evidence of their efficacy is weak: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-and-masks
Masks in NS were introduced when we were doing our best with no additional risk being added as justification. There have been no goals given to the public as to when the mandate could be removed (what needs to be achieved?) On July 31 when the mandate came into effect, NS had 2 new cases of COVID-19 that day. Prior to that there were 0 new cases for 15 days, and just 10 total in the preceding 60 days (June 1 to July 30). For comparison, from April 1 to May 31 NS had 910 new cases. So we went from 910 in 2 months, to 10 the next 2 months, all without a mask policy and all the while loosening restrictions as we went. The July 22 initial back to school plan only had masks mandated on buses, and in common areas for high school students. The plan was then updated a couple weeks later, citing new evidence (which wasn't actually cited) that those aged 10+ may transmit the virus as easily as adults. Now, all students in grades 4+ must wear masks anytime they are inside unless they are in a classroom, facing forward and are 6 feet from the next student (impossible in nearly all classrooms meaning students have to wear masks all day now anytime they are inside).
Here is the updated back to school guidance from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto: https://www.sickkids.ca/PDFs/About-SickKids/81407-COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids.pdf
Dr Strang's callous and unscientific statements around mask usage are not only incorrect due to their being terribly over simplified, but they have created the atmosphere for public policing which has caused division in society but more importantly, created undue stress for those who cannot wear them as they are questioned each time they try to enter nearly every business and many times outright refused entry. This is a constant source of stress and embarrassment just by living daily life. Dr Strang has made several statements of note. The first being that Asthma and COPD are not valid Medical reasons for not wearing a mask. He simply cites a statement from the Canadian Thoracic Society that indicates these conditions are not made worse by mask wearing. The problem is, just because they do not physically worsen a condition doesn't mean it's easy for someone with these conditions to wear a mask. A mask obviously impedes the ability to breath fresh, cool air and that discomfort is clearly going to be exacerbated in people that already have breathing problems. His 2nd statement was his callous dismissal of mental health. He stated that one of the only real reasons to not wear a mask is due to anxiety (I guess he is boiling down every issue from PTSD to Claustrophobia and just labeling it anxiety, which is CATEGORICALLY incorrect in itself). He then stated that these people should simply practice wearing a mask at home to get through the anxiety. Who knew getting over ones mental health conditions is as easy as a bit of repetition! Dr Strang is NOT a mental health professional and these statements have only further emboldened the public to ridicule those not wearing a mask by creating an environment where everyone is now skeptical of anyone not wearing one because we are led to believe there are so few reasons anyone cannot medically wear one, that most are likely lying/simply doing it because they don't want to comply.
On June 8, the WHO made a clear statement that based on information from countries who were doing aggressive contact tracing, transmission from asymptomatic individuals was "Rare". This was then walked back the next day after backlash, but doesn't change the information that guided them to make the initial statement: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/who-covid-19-asymptomatic-spread-1.5604353
Here is a more recent study that was done that provides the same conclusion: https://www.conservativereview.com/news/horowitz-new-study-finds-weak-asymptomatic-coronavirus-transmission/?fbclid=IwAR1F2j0hV-y9kaHIOyV1sRFgJB0AWHxpl3gtvBO7ZYQd_Azhxg9EVD35qJ0
COVID-19 Infection = Exposure + Time
In NS, given the incredibly low case rates we have had for well over 2 months now, the chances of any random person wandering around being asymptomatic is very low, near 0. Based on serology (antibody) studies to date in Canada, it's suggestive that maybe 5x the number of cases exist over reported figures, since asymptomatic people don't get tested generally. If you apply this even at a 10x rate to be extra conservative, if NS has 2 active cases then a worst case scenario would be that there are 20 people in the entire province that have the virus and are asymptomatic. Given that not a single one of the 12 new cases from June 1-July 31 were known to be random community spread (all were travel related), it's safe to say that the chances of a random person being asymptomatic AND transmit the virus onward is nearly 0 (0.002% chance of a random person being asymptomatic if we use the above, worst case scenario which would amount to 1 in 50000 people in NS when we have 2 active cases), and the chances of asymptomatic people transmitting the virus anyway, is not high based on several studies of rigorous contact tracing. This places the risk of viral spread during casual encounters such as at the grocery store, as approaching 0. To my knowledge, even at the peak in NS (approx 400 active cases), there were no confirmed cases transmitted in shopping environments, which includes employees of these locations which are at far higher risk due to spending significant time in the same location with many different people each day. Surely if the risk were so high that masks needed to be worn by all we would have seen many cases of this nature, especially when we actually had a measurable number of cases? Surely the risk would need to be far greater than near 0 for a highly divisive and intrusive mandatory mask policy to be deemed legally viable. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/prolonged-time-exposed-to-virus-a-factor-in-infection-1.4944021
There should be a reasonable, evidence based approach to anything that infringes on people's rights, especially ones as intrusive as individual bodily autonomy by mandating masks. For example, even at our peak of 400 active cases, if you apply the 10x asymptomatic rule, that would be 4000 cases, or about 0.4% of the NS population. This means that 99.6% of the population, in the worst case scenario we have seen to date in NS, were not infected at any one time, and 99.998% at most over the last 2 months. Even if 1% of the population were infected at the same time, that would still only mean there might be 1-2 people at any given time shopping in a large store like Walmart or Sobeys that may be infected. Even so, the risk of transmission is still low, especially providing social distancing is in effect, due to the nature of asymptomatic spread and the exposure + time formula. This is why the vast majority of transmission the world over happens between families, co-workers and in settings like long term care homes because in these cases you have both high exposure and lots of time around that exposure. You don't get either when you are out shopping or at the DMV.
A much more nuanced approach rather than an unscientific universal approach is much more appropriate. For example, requiring masks in long term care homes by both staff and visitors makes good sense given we know they are the most vulnerable population. Recommending masks be worn by high school aged students in common areas where distancing can't be maintained would seem reasonable given we want to be cautious as we re-open schools for the first time. Recommending elderly and vulnerable populations wear masks when they venture out to locations where distancing can be difficult would be prudent advice. Mandating masks for all people (over 2 years old) in nearly all indoor locations including all day for school students aged 10+ is not based on evidence, science, studies, WHO guidance, basic common sense or the evidence of the reality on the ground in NS where the risk is and has been near 0 for well over 2 months now.
This isn't about mask efficacy (though the fact the science is incredibly unclear should be alarming enough), but the fact that without considering masks, the risk is near 0 in NS and therefore masks are an unnecessary measure and therefore unreasonable to be made mandatory. The evidence of this is born out by the situation in NS, the lack of any community transmission whatsoever in months and the lack of evidence there has ever been a single case resulting from casual shopping and errand running. The bar for infringing on Charter Rights MUST be far higher than what we are currently living in our democracy, and must be unequivocally science based that by NOT implementing such a mandate, the associated risk is simply too high. There is no way for that bar to be met currently in NS based on the objective facts and the last 6 months of data we have since the pandemic began. Masks were not needed in NS during our small peak, and unless we achieve community case numbers far exceeding what we did in April/May, are not likely to be warranted in the future.