Manitoba Government lockdowns violate Charter: legal analysis
WINNIPEG: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has released a comprehensive Charter analysis of the Manitoba Government’s lockdown measures, which violate the Charter freedoms of citizens to move, travel, assemble, associate and worship, all while crippling society and the economy.
Entitled “Redefining Emergency: A Charter Analysis of Manitoba’s Response to COVID-19,” this legal analysis of Manitoba’s response to COVID-19 addresses:
how the Government’s lockdown measures violate Charter freedoms;
how the Government has not met its duty under the Charter to justify these violations;
the social and economic harms caused by lockdown measures, and their negative impact on physical and mental health;
Redefining Emergency explains why and how the Manitoba Government has not met its constitutional obligation to justify its restrictions on Charter rights and freedoms.
The Manitoba Government has locked down the province, to varying degrees, since March of 2020. Currently the Government violates Charter freedoms by prohibiting gatherings over five people; banning the sale of items deemed non-essential in stores; closing churches; banning drive-in church services; preventing Manitobans from enjoying the company of friends and family; and (again) cancelling medically necessary surgeries, to name just a few of Manitoba’s lockdown measures.
Lockdown measures have brought with them negative consequences which are clearly foreseeable and ought to have been anticipated. Destroying people’s businesses and livelihoods has measurable harmful impacts on people’s health and wellness. Unemployment, poverty and social isolation are directly correlated with increases in anxiety, depression, mental illness, alcoholism, drug overdoses, family violence and suicide.
In Manitoba 280 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 (as of Friday, November 27) since March of 2020, in the context of more than 11,000 Manitobans dying each year. More than 97% of Manitobans die from other causes. More than 900 Manitobans die every month; more than 200 per week. Why are these deaths considered less important, or less sad, than deaths caused by one virus?
The Manitoba Government reports that 336 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with 44 in ICU. There are 93 ICU beds that can be expanded to about 173, and a total of 2,432 acute hospital beds. In April 2020, the province told media that they could add another 300 hospital beds if required. This is hardly a situation of the health care system being in danger of getting “overrun” as claimed by government officials. Government officials have not explained why the threat of too few hospital beds, if this is indeed reality, cannot be addressed by creating more hospital beds as earlier promised.
Further, in Manitoba and other provinces, the overwhelming majority of headline-making “cases” involve people who are otherwise healthy and have no or few symptoms of COVID. Doctors and infectious disease specialists have publicly questioned and criticized the accuracy of PCR tests, which can generate false positives as high as 90%. "Cases" in Canada are all based on this flawed testing methodology.
“The Province seems to have completely ignored the fact that Manitobans have Charter rights that protect their freedoms to assemble, associate, worship, and express themselves,” states Allison Pejovic, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre in Winnipeg.
“Manitobans are basically living under draconian restrictions. They are being told that they can’t see their loved ones and friends, buy their children Christmas presents at the stores, and come together in worship during the Christmas season,” continues Ms. Pejovic.
“According to the Government’s Orders, the Province is effectively saying it is safe to move about and associate indoors in large numbers at Walmart, Costco, and liquor stores, but unsafe to sit in a restaurant, visit a small business, attend a church service, or gather outside with more than five people. Even at the large big box stores, anything deemed non-essential is off-limits for customers. Does Covid-19 only linger in the toy, housewares and cosmetics sections, and not in the produce and dry foods sections? The restrictions are baffling and unjust,” notes Pejovic.
“These Orders have transformed Manitoba’s friendly society for the worse. People are scared and suspicious of each other; and social cohesion is all but eroded. Winter in Manitoba is long, cold, and dark. The prohibition on authentic human contact by face-to-face connection is devastating to mental health, and to the well-being of society as a whole,” concluded Pejovic.
Further legal announcements are forthcoming.