As Canadians watch other jurisdictions around the world get vaccinated faster or find better approaches to managing COVID-19, more Canadians are asking critical questions about the choices made by our officials.
They’re right to do this. We are living in truly extraordinary times and no one has all the answers. We should be able to push back and ask for a second opinion if we feel it’s right.
However, it looks like some official bodies want to ban any critical discussion of what’s going on across the country and to censor doctors who try to offer a more nuanced perspective.
This is disturbing and wrong.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recently released an ominous statement that included the following:
“Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations.”
They added: “Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted.”
It’s a sneakily worded statement because they deliberately mix the reasonable alongside the unreasonable.
There are certainly zany theories doing the rounds that, if they were adopted by the population at large, could lead to some harmful practices. But the CPSO statement is not limited to such things.
This regulator is also clearly saying that they will punish any doctors who speak out on the increasingly documented harms of lockdowns. This is troubling.
Right now, restrictions are severe in Canada. The public health orders concerning, for example, the closure of basketball courts and golf courses in Ontario have been widely condemned by many physicians.
Why should physicians not speak out against restrictions that they feel are harmful to the health of their patients?
“Despite undeniable suffering due to lockdowns, the CPSO wants Ontario doctors to stay quiet,” wrote Dr. Shawn Whatley, a former president of the Ontario Medical Association, in a guest column in the Sun.
The CPSO has not yet retracted or revised their problematic statement — but they certainly should.