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Launch of Six Principles for a Just Recovery

MEDIA RELEASE on May 25, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Put People First, Demand Over 150 Canadian Organizations with the Launch of Six Principles for a Just Recovery
As governments prepare recovery plans amidst the COVID-19 crisis, an informal alliance of over 150 civil society groups, representing collective memberships of millions in Canada, are demanding these plans move us toward a more equitable and sustainable future, with the release, today, of six Principles for a Just Recovery.United in support of the Principles, endorsing organizations span sectors and communities across the country, including the Canadian Labour Congress, Indigenous Climate Action, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec and the Canadian Health Coalition.

Their message for governments: recovery efforts must support the transition to a more equitable, sustainable and diversified economy, and not entrench outdated economic and social systems that jeopardize the health and wellbeing of people, worsen the climate crisis, or perpetuate the exploitation or oppression of people.

The COVID crisis has revealed the primary importance of the health and safety of all people, as a human rights and collective wellbeing issue. Relief efforts so far have shown that things we’ve been told aren’t possible, actually are once we prioritize them.

“The choices we make now about how to recover from this pandemic will shape not only our health and economic future, but also the future of human life on this planet. We need public investments to help meet our commitment to limit global warming, by developing renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, supporting struggling public transit systems and ensuring a just transition for workers and their communities. We must prioritize investing in things that create much needed good jobs,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff.The Principles, in brief, ask that recovery plans:

1. Put people’s health and wellbeing first, no exceptions.

2. Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people.

3. Prioritize the needs of workers and communities.

4. Build resilience to prevent future crises.

5. Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders

6. Uphold Indigenous Rights and Work in Partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

“Indigenous rights and sovereignty must be the foundation upon which every aspect of Just Recovery is built. Throughout the recovery process, Indigenous Peoples must be at the table, as should voices from all structurally oppressed communities,” said Lindsey Bacigal of Indigenous Climate Action. “Prior to the pandemic, Indigenous communities were already in crisis due to a lack of infrastructure, health and social services and the current situation will only deepen these inequalities. To address this historical injustice, it is essential that Indigenous Peoples have access to adequate resources that revitalize the health, well-being and sovereignty of our communities.”

Endorsing groups will pursue specific policy recommendations, aligned with the Principles.

“The huge collaborative effort that brought these principles to life over many weeks of rich, challenging discussions exemplifies the kind of action we expect of political leaders as we move through this crisis,” explained Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada. “It’s going to take a massive and diverse community of voices to encourage governments to be bold in the face of corporate lobbies, and to put people and communities first,” Abreu continued. “Our goal was to capture the immense amount of care work happening throughout Canadian civil society right now and present a vision of a Just Recovery that leaves no one behind. We know this is a vision the majority of Canadians support, and millions of people are ready to take action.”

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadians asked by EKOS Research earlier this month [1] supported a “broad transformation of our society” resulting from COVID-inspired reformations.

“We recognize the enormous challenge and responsibility facing governments. We also see a critical opportunity for leaders to seize the courage required to lead us through this moment to a better world. We’ll be doing our part to ensure the people are behind them,” said Claire Gallagher, from the independent citizens’ advocacy group, Leadnow.

Today’s launch marks the beginning of independent and collaborative efforts by participating organizations to urge all levels of government to deliver a transformational Just Recovery for all people. For a growing list of endorsers, please visit justrecoveryforall.ca.

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Media contact:
Max Mosher (based in Toronto)
647-888-6453 | media@leadnow.ca

OR

Sonia Theroux (based in Victoria)
250-508-5277 | sonia@leadnow.ca

French release and contacts here.

Full text of the english Just Recovery Principles found here.

Full list of endorsers found here.

Additional spokespeople available for media:
Lindsey Bacigal, Indigenous Climate Action
Anjali Appadurai, Sierra Club B.C.
Natalie Appleyard, Citizens for Public Justice
Dr. Courtney Howard, CAPE
Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians
Amara Possian, 350 Canada
Caroline Brouillette, Équiterre
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada
Kim Perrotta, CHASE

Quotes by above found here.

It’s peak season for another infectious disease waiting in parks and campgrounds

This article was written by Erin Anderssen and was published in the Globe & Mail on May 25, 2020.

As Canadians emerge from lockdown during peak tick season, medical journal details rare but deadly health consequences of the illness

As Canadians rush outdoors after weeks in lockdown, researchers and public-health officials warn of a less novel, but ever-increasing infectious villain waiting for them in the woods: the black-legged ticks.

The timing could not be worse: Peak season for the tiny bug, which carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, is happening just as governments across the country lift restrictions on parks and camping areas.

A collection of new cases presented in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday details the rare but deadly health consequences of Lyme disease, especially when it is not detected early.

The cases include the death of a healthy 37-year-old Manitoba man two summers ago after he was diagnosed with Lyme carditis, a condition that occurs when the bacteria that causes Lyme interferes with the heart’s electrical signals. It causes dizziness, fainting and a slowing heartbeat, and can eventually lead to what scientist call a heart block. The man had been bitten by a tick weeks earlier, but the diagnosis came too late: By the time he was admitted to hospital and given intravenous antibiotics, the damage to his heart was too severe. He died 48 hours later.

The doctors involved with the cases say that they are trying to raise awareness both of the need for prevention by the public and vigilance for physicians, especially those in rural emergency departments.

“We are not trying to scare people, but we want to highlight the disease,” said Richard Rusk, a primary physician and public-health officer who co-authored the paper about the Manitoba case.

Dr. Rusk worries that a country already exhausted by messaging about physical distancing and hand-washing may not heed this instruction: When walking through long grass, forests and off-trail, wear repellent, long sleeves and tuck your socks into pants.

If you spend time in nature where the presence of ticks is high – which includes the entire province of Nova Scotia, swaths of Manitoba, much of Vancouver Island, as well as areas in and around cities such as Ottawa and Toronto – conduct a tick check each night. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks often don’t sting when they latch on to a host. They can be as small as a grain of sand, so easily overlooked.

Cases of Lyme disease have grown exponentially in Canada over the past decade. According to national surveillance statistics, the number of cases was 2,025 in 2017, compared with 144 in 2009. Scientists believe a major factor in their advance north is climate change.

The chances of being infected with Lyme disease from a tick bite are about 3 per cent to 5 per cent, according to research. But the percentage of Lyme disease cases that develop into heart problems may be up to 10 per cent, said Adrian Baranchuk, a cardiologist and researcher in Kingston, Ont. “If it goes undiagnosed, the possibility of having serious complications is not that small,” he said.

In another case reported in CMAJ, Dr. Baranchuk treated a 56-year-old female patient in Kingston who was diagnosed with Lyme carditis after being bitten by a tick while jogging. She recovered after a dose of intravenous antibiotics. In the past, many of these cases have resulted in younger patients being given pacemakers, but Dr. Baranchuk says there is now enough good evidence – led by research done in Kingston – to support the less invasive, less costly approach of a round of antibiotics and careful monitoring.

This depends, however, on doctors identifying cases quickly, which can be complicated because people may not remember being bitten, and the symptoms of Lyme often resemble those of other illnesses. What’s more, only about half of the people bitten by a tick get the classic bullseye rash, Dr. Baranchuk said.

In the case of his female patient, her rash appeared as a reddish blotch and was first treated as cellulitus, a common skin infection. She was only properly diagnosed when she returned to emergency 15 days later with palpitations and light-headedness.

The cases described in the CMAJ further highlight how easily Lyme disease may be overlooked. In the family account of the case involving the Manitoba man, Samuel, his sister writes that at a family swimming gathering she noticed circular rashes on his chest and back, but Samuel did not recall being bitten by a tick. A visit to the doctors returned a diagnosis of a bad flu. He seemed better at the next family gathering for his 37th birthday. But about a week later, he messaged his family that he was being kept over night at hospital for “minor heart symptoms.” The next day, she says, they rushed to the hospital to find him on life support.

A third case reported in the CMAJ involved a four-year-old Ontario boy brought to hospital with symptoms of fever, vomiting, as well as a condition called ataxia, which affects muscle co-ordination and speech. A picture provided by his parents showed a tick-like rash four months earlier, and led doctors to diagnose Lyme disease and successfully treat the boy with antibiotics.

To improve the chances of catching serious problems in time, the CMAJ paper recommends that patients suspected or confirmed to have Lyme disease be checked for heart symptoms, and, if discharged, be told to seek immediate care if symptoms develop.

But ultimately, the experts say, the best treatment is prevention.

In Mahone Bay, N.S., Lisa Ali Learning discovered this the hard way when her two sons, then 11 and 9, came down with mysterious swollen joints, eventually found to be caused by tick-borne disease. They recovered with antibiotics but “it was [a] huge eye-opener,” said Ms. Ali Learning, who, with an Acadia University researcher, went on to develop a natural spray that is awaiting approval from Health Canada as a tick repellent. “I was completely ignorant, and that was a problem.” Now her family is vigilant about daily tick checks.

Dr. Rusk offered this advice: “We don’t say people are weird for wearing a mask, we say that’s appropriate.” It’s the same with tucking your pants into your socks when you enjoy the woods – another new normal so Canadians can stay safe outdoors.

Cases of Lyme disease have grown exponentially in Canada over the past decade. According to national surveillance statistics, the number of cases was 2,025 in 2017, compared with 144 in 2009.