Are Surgical Masks Mandatory in Canada

Are Surgical Masks Mandatory in Canada | HealthSoul

The past year or so has heralded a host of changes in the way we live our lives. People have become extra cautious as we leave our houses every day and with good reason too. We now have to keep a form of face-covering on us, as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer as an added precaution.

On an economic scale, countries are also taking certain measures in a bid to reinvigorate their economies as they gradually open up after several weeks of lockdown.

For instance, several governments in the world have had to implement policies that were recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Some of those measures include observing social distancing, maintaining good hand hygiene, and the most controversial of all, wearing face masks in public.

Below is an in-depth look into why people are against wearing masks and the measures that the Government of Canada has taken in ensuring that people wear masks in public.

The Issue of Public Use of Masks

Wearing masks while in public settings has stirred up heated debate. Misinformation, or a lack of reputable info, has gone viral across social media.

Contradictory statements from the WHO and national health authorities have not helped the situation. Public policy involving the use of masks has shifted from ‘not recommended’ to ‘recommended’ and even ‘mandatory’ in some countries.

Such inconsistencies have fuelled anti-mask arguments that have been made on the basis that mandating face masks would be infringing on people’s individual liberties.

Venezuela, Vietnam, Slovakia, the UAE, and Colombia are countries that mandated the use of face masks in public well during the earlier stages of the epidemic. Italy made the same decree as recently as mid-August.

Even though it would be fair to say that the coronavirus situation in Canada has been well managed, there are more and more voices every day calling for the government to mandate wearing masks in public countrywide.

Mandatory Surgical Mask Laws in Canada

Several communities across the country have proceeded to make surgical face masks mandatory in public settings such as in indoor spaces, in business premises, and on public transportation. More than several epidemiologists and doctors have tried to call for such laws to be as widespread to counter the highly infectious nature of Covid19.

Public health officials are, however, not entirely convinced that such a measure is necessary. But what they have agreed on is that if a region was to cross a certain threshold in reported Covid-19 cases could motivate the implementation of mandatory wearing of masks in public.

As far as mandated masks go countrywide, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommends that Canadians wear a surgical mask or fabric face-covering in crowded environments and public spaces.

This is especially important if one is in a situation where they cannot maintain a social distance of at least 2 meters from other people which is in truth, almost impossible to do on a consistent basis.

What Exactly Do Face Masks Have To Do With Coronavirus Infection Rates

The notion behind this recommendation by PHAC is that the infection rates will reduce once people wear masks in public. How is that possible? Covid-19 primarily spreads through physical contact and more relevantly, through inhaling contaminated respiratory droplets.

When a carrier of the virus breathes, talks, sneezes, or coughs, they release small infectious respiratory droplets that could linger in the air for 2 to 3 hours, thus posing a health risk to many when these droplets are exposed to publicly breathable air.

If the droplets are too heavy, they could fall on and contaminate a surface. If a healthy person touches the surface and then proceeds to touch their face, they could be infected by Covid-19.

Wearing a mask will help trap the respiratory infectious droplets thus preventing the wearer from both inhaling or exhaling potentially infectious droplets.

For these reasons, combined with the fact that some people have been found to be infected yet asymptomatic, the recommendations were effectively put in place.

Is The Recommendation by the Public Health Agency of Canada Good Enough?

A group of health professionals and epidemiologists known as Masks4Canada coupled with another similar group from Quebec have called on the government to make wearing masks in public mandatory through an open letter addressed to federal health officials.

The letter also highlighted a poll conducted by Leger 360 and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) which revealed that more than 50% of Canadians do not wear masks when out in public.

However, most research studies, this one included, have not shown a clear relationship between Canadians’ laxity in wearing masks and the burgeoning Covid-19 cases most likely due to certain factors such as limited study size.

Places in Canada Where Masks Have Been Made Mandatory

The bigger chunk of mandatory mask laws in Canada involves public transportation where Canadians will have difficulties with social distancing. For instance, Transport Canada made it mandatory for all air travelers to wear masks back in April. Some transport regulation agencies in Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Guelph also made mask-wearing mandatory.

Wearing masks in public is currently mandatory in Brandon, Manitoba and so is Banff, Alberta, which is a tourist hotspot. Other places include

Some people have argued that considering population density alone, large cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal should consider making masks mandatory. These cities have a high amount of traffic meaning people are highly likely to cluster together. Such scenarios could facilitate Covid-19 to spread widely and easily at that.

Mandatory or Not, Wearing a Mask Will Help Protect You From COVID-19

Handwashing and social distancing are still considered the most effective methods of protecting oneself against Covid-19. But if you find yourself in an environment you are not in control over such as when using public commuter transport or at a checkout line at the grocery store, wearing a mask could be deemed prudent.

At present, Canada does not have a red line where people would say it’s necessary for everyone to wear masks in public but it cannot be ruled out as a possibility in the future.