Sabrina Maddeaux: Lockdowns are killing young Canadians

Our nation’s younger generations are self-harming and dying in unprecedented numbers that appear to directly correlate with closures

Author of the article:Sabrina Maddeaux Publishing date:Dec 30, 2021  •  1 day ago  •  5 minute read  •   377 Comments

Nicki Dewar, whose 31-year-old daughter, Kristin, died of an opioid overdose, places carnations on the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Nov. 24, 2021, during National Addictions Awareness Week. A new StatCan report reveals that as the pandemic stretches on, it’s younger Canadians who are disproportionately dying, largely due to unintentional overdoses and poisonings.
Nicki Dewar, whose 31-year-old daughter, Kristin, died of an opioid overdose, places carnations on the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Nov. 24, 2021, during National Addictions Awareness Week. A new StatCan report reveals that as the pandemic stretches on, it’s younger Canadians who are disproportionately dying, largely due to unintentional overdoses and poisonings. PHOTO BY KEVIN KING/POSTMEDIA NEWS

A pandemic that disproportionately kills the elderly is undeniably bad, but just as tragic is a response that disproportionately kills the young. As time goes on, the latter is claiming more and more Canadian lives.

In a devastating year-end update on COVID-19’s social and economic impacts, Statistics Canada estimates there were 19,884 “excess deaths” (more deaths than what would normally be expected) in Canada between March 2020 and May 2021. While excess deaths early in the pandemic largely occurred among seniors and were attributable to COVID-19, such deaths rose significantly later on among younger Canadians and were not caused by the virus.

Approximately 35 per cent –– or over 7,200 –– of total excess deaths occurred among those between 45 and 64 years old despite the demographic accounting for only seven per cent of COVID-related deaths. Perhaps even more disturbing, approximately 15.6 per cent –– or about 3,100 –– of Canada’s excess deaths occurred among those younger than 44, even though that youngest cohort accounts for only 0.7 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 deaths.

The report is clear: as the pandemic stretches on, it’s younger Canadians who are disproportionately dying

The report is clear: as the pandemic stretches on, it’s younger Canadians who are disproportionately dying. Not from the virus itself, but from the choices we’ve made along the way –– and continue to make. These deaths are largely due to unintentional overdoses and poisonings, and some by choice, among the populations most affected by prolonged social and economic restrictions. Opioid overdoses in particular increased by 88 per cent compared with the same time period prior to the pandemic.

As officials breathlessly report Omicron case numbers that appear to have diverged from hospitalization and death rates, the conversation about restrictions and lockdowns must be different than it was in early- to mid-2020. The risk calculus is simply not the same, and the level of harm we may inflict on the young and the vulnerable is immense.

StatCan found opioid-related hospitalizations have been highest among those with lower levels of income and education, who are unemployed or out of the labour force, who self-identify as Indigenous, who live in lone parent households, and who spend more than 50 per cent of their income on housing. The data also found high levels of stress among women, those aged 35 to 44, LGBTQ+ communities, and those who live with children under the age of 15. It’s no coincidence these groups are also among the most likely to be impacted by closures of businesses, community supports and schools.

As shocking as this latest report is, it comes with a caveat that means things are very likely worse than they seem. It covers the pandemic period only up to May 2021. This is about the time older Canadians began to receive vaccines. Since then, hospitalizations and deaths of the elderly and 65-plus demographic have plummeted, yet there’s every indication overdoses continue to spike. The portion of excess deaths younger Canadians actually account for is likely larger than it appears in StatCan’s year-end report.

And it’s not getting better. National modelling predicts a further increase in opioid overdose deaths through at least the first half of 2022 –– and that doesn’t even account for increasing rates of alcohol poisoning deaths. The other thing about substance abuse and addiction is that, even if they don’t result in death, they don’t simply disappear once stressors evaporate. Restrictions may eventually lift, but the substance-abuse issues that began or worsened during lockdowns will stick around for life, destroying livelihoods, relationships, and families in their wake. The potential collateral damage is, to use a term we’re now all intimately familiar with, exponential.

These are not easy deaths. We are constantly asked, and rightfully so, by medical professionals and media to imagine the scene inside COVID-19 hospital wards. To picture the patients on ventilators, struggling to breathe, that privacy laws won’t allow us to see. It only seems fair to ask the same for the young and the vulnerable, many dying alone in apartments or on streets from overdoses; skin turning blue, gurgling and seizing.

Also uncaptured by StatCan are the skyrocketing suicide attempts and self-harm rates among the very youngest Canadians. After last winter’s widespread lockdowns, some hospitals saw the number of youth admitted for suicide attempts triple within a four-month period. Those hospitalized during this period also generally stayed longer due to more serious attempts. Eating disorders in youth were described by doctors as “unprecedented,” and some children’s hospitals saw referrals increase by 90 per cent in the same four-month period. Children’s hospitals in Ontario considered transferring older teens to adult hospitals as they became too full to function.

Also uncaptured by StatCan are the skyrocketing suicide attempts and self-harm rates among the very youngest Canadians

Our nation’s younger generations are self-harming and dying in unprecedented numbers that appear to directly correlate with closures, and yet few seem willing to acknowledge this lest it result in hard conversations that don’t include lockdowns as acceptable recourse.

Meanwhile, Omicron data from South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States continues to point toward significantly less hospitalization and death. Preliminary Canadian data suggests the same pattern, combined with anecdotal reports that some of the hardest hit hospitals from earlier waves, like Brampton Civic Hospital in Ontario, are down to only two COVID patients in the ICU. It’s extremely difficult to reconcile this growing pool of evidence with calls for additional restrictions when we know what the cost of those restrictions will be.

Many proponents of harsher restrictions prefer to present this cost in economic terms, framing the choice as being between lives and dollars. This has the benefit of bestowing their views with moral righteousness while painting those who disagree as deranged Scrooge McDucks. We now know this is a straw man argument. There are lives on the other side of the scale, too, and they’re excessively young.

It’s a painful question to ask, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. At what point do COVID hospitalizations and deaths among older generations stop justifying the growing sacrifice of Canada’s young? If people aren’t willing to consider this question, and publicly justify their answers, they shouldn’t be in the business of recommending further lockdown measures.

National Post


If the unvaccinated should pay for their own healthcare, then why not smokers, addicts, and obese people?

If the unvaccinated should pay for their own healthcare, then why not smokers, addicts, and obese people?


By John Carpay, The Post Millennial

Would Financial Post columnist Diane Francis argue that smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts and the obese should be denied publicly funded health care, and forced to pay for their medical treatment out-of-pocket?

These groups of people, after all, “strain health-care systems and force hospitals to postpone surgeries or turn away Canadians who need treatment for other illnesses.” As Ms. Francis puts it: “In a single-payer health-care system like Canada’s, it is only fair and prudent” to “make people pay for the burden they impose on the system” when making unhealthy choices.

Nobody should be permitted to burden taxpayers “with the medical costs you incur because of your own irresponsibility.” “Public health measures should not be confused with freedom of choice or rights,” argues Ms. Francis. If you fall ill because of your own choice, “nobody else should have to pay for your personal negligence and irresponsibility.”

Would Winnipeg gastroenterologist Dr. Charles Bernstein argue that obese people or smokers should be barred from entering grocery stores and supermarkets?

Surely these people should shoulder “the added cost and inconvenience” of grocery delivery, “instead of letting them drain health-care resources” for preventable illnesses. As Dr. Bernstein puts it: “They’re going to use up hospital services and… ruin it for the rest of us.” Is Dr. Bernstein aware that in Manitoba, smoking—to consider just one of the unhealthy personal choices listed above—causes 2,000 deaths a year, whereas just over 800 deaths in Manitoba were linked to Covid-19 in 2020?

According to the Manitoba government, a whopping 50 percent of smokers in Manitoba will die from a tobacco-related illness, costing the provincial health care system $244 million annually. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Manitoba. So why is Dr. Bernstein not calling for smoking to be banned, and for smokers to be punished for draining health-care resources?

As both Health Canada and the Center for Disease Control explain it, obesity increases risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. All of these diseases, caused or exacerbated by obesity, are costing taxpayers huge swaths of money. Following the reasoning of Diane Francis and Dr. Bernstein, this money could be better spent on the good Canadians who exercise regularly and eat healthy foods in moderation.

Have Dr. Bernstein and Diane Francis considered the fact that obese people are far more likely to end up in hospital with Covid? According to the CDC, having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a Covid infection. Obesity decreases lung capacity and is linked to impaired immune function, both very unhelpful when fighting Covid.

Further, the CDC states that being a current or former cigarette smoker can make you more likely to get severely ill from Covid. It also seems to be ignored that, as a result of lockdowns and their vast collateral damage, alcoholism and drug overdoses are on the rise, burdening the health care system. Both Dr. Bernstein and Diane Francis seem to believe that there are good Covid patients and bad Covid patients. The latter should be punished for their bad choices, in their view.

In fact, Diane Francis directed her venom and Dr. Bernstein directed his vitriol not at the obese or smokers—or any other group burdening the healthcare system because of their own unhealthy choices—but at Canadians who decline the new Covid vaccines. Ms. Francis argues that the vaccine-free should pay for their own medical costs, and Dr. Bernstein argues that the vaccine-free should be banned from grocery stores. Banning people from grocery stores is immoral and will generally impact the poor who cannot afford home deliveries. Further, access to food is considered a fundamental human right by the United Nations. If the Manitoba government accepts Dr. Bernstein’s advice, many unvaccinated Manitobans who are impoverished or who live in rural areas will face starvation if they cannot access grocery stores.

Ms. Francis and Dr. Bernstein are repudiating the ethical principle of informed and voluntary consent established by the Nuremberg Code. They are selectively arguing for government discrimination against one group of people, completely ignoring the fact that there are countless unhealthy choices made by millions of Canadians every day, with many of these decisions directly costing taxpayers dearly.

Dr. Bernstein and Ms. Francis also ignore the well-established fact that Covid vaccines do not stop Covid spread, as stated publicly by health authorities and by the vaccine manufacturers themselves. Public statements by public health officials are confirmed by the experiences of Israel, Gibraltar and the United Kingdom where vaccination rates as high as 100 percent are not stopping the spread of Covid, nor do they prevent people from catching Covid and dying from it.

Nobody disputes that the new Covid vaccines have not been subjected to any long-term safety testing. Nobody seriously questions that about 80 percent of Covid deaths in Canada have been amongst elderly people in nursing homes who were already very sick with multiple serious conditions. No Canadian government, federal or provincial, has put forward persuasive evidence to support the claim that Covid threatens everyone; the governments’ own data and statistics tell us the opposite.

Since the Covid vaccine does not stop Covid spread, there is little if any medical or scientific basis for vaccine passports, let alone denying medical care and the right to shop for groceries to Canadians who legitimately exercise their Charter right to bodily autonomy. Are Ms. Francis and Dr. Bernstein willing to take a consistent position, and advocate for the denial of publicly funded healthcare to smokers, alcoholics, drug users and the obese?

Mental health damage from the pandemic could last years: Doctors

“My mental health has been terrible for two years” says an overwhelmed mother of five

Author of the article:Scott Laurie

Publishing date:Dec 30, 2021  

Rebecca and Oded Abraham, and family
Rebecca and Oded Abraham, and family Submitted photo

The mental health impact of the pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions is only beginning to be felt, according to some medical professionals and regular surveys by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.think the impact is huge,” said family doctor Alanna Golden, who on Monday wrote an open letter to the premier urging that schools reopen normally in January.“One of the impacts we don’t talk a lot about is: What does this mean for kids in the future, for their mental health over time?”

Golden’s petition had attracted 631 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

It spells out how a number of jurisdictions around the world have made a commitment to keeping schools open, regardless of case counts.

The letter — addressed to Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and chief medical officer Kieran Moore — reads in part:

“Children and youth have experienced significant increases in hospital mental health admissions for eating disorders and psychiatric illness (55% and 30% respectively), emergency mental health visits (25%) and urgent care mental health visits (20%).”

Rebecca Abraham supports the letter’s aim to keep schools open.

She and her husband Oded, a registered nurse, have five children. She said the pandemic is a major struggle.

“My mental health has been terrible for two years. My husband’s mental health has been terrible. Our kids’ mental health has been terrible,” said Abraham, a Hamilton health-care administrator.

“We’ll see in a few years what the mental health effects are, but right now it’s been literally day by day. But how can we live in this day-by-day mentality before it takes its toll on us?”

CAMH has been tracking anxiety, depression, binge drinking and financial worry since the pandemic started.

Its latest survey — of 1,001 Canadians this summer — showed 19% of participants reporting moderate to severe anxiety.

“In terms of mental health problems, we need to understand that this will not be over when the case counts go down,” said Dr. David Gratzer, a psychiatrist with CAMH.

“The people struggling now might be struggling for months or even years.”

Abraham, who remains anxious about possible changes to a return to classes in January, is just eager to hear something positive.

“Give us something to look forward to,” she said.

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