Canadians are currently enjoying their summer and living their lives. After two years of thinking about COVID-19, people aren’t really thinking about it anymore. It’s hard to blame them.
The virus has receded to the background of our lives, as some provincial medical officers of health have described it. It’s now being managed like any other similar respiratory illness.
So why is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau digging in his heels when it comes to keeping some pandemic measures?
On Wednesday, the Trudeau Liberal government actually renewed a number of pandemic era rules.
“The reality is, as much as people would like to pretend we’re not, we’re still in a pandemic. There are Canadians who die every single day because of COVID-19,” Trudeau told reporters.
The other reality is, as much as we’d prefer this not to be the case, this virus is now endemic – meaning that it will be around for many years to come and some people will unfortunately still die of it.
This is a reason for high-risk persons to continue to receive vaccines and for our health system to continue to invest in life-saving measures like anti-viral drugs. But this is not a reason to keep onerous rules in place for everyone, for all time.
Travel industry groups are now calling on the feds to make three changes: remove onsite mandatory testing from airports, remove Public Health Agency of Canada duplicate health check questions and remove vaccine mandates for border and airport workers.
Dropping these rules would go a long way to reducing the long lines at airports and crossings that are damaging our economy and needlessly inconveniencing people.
While we have encouraged people to get vaccinated in this space before, we also see zero justification for continuing to restrict the lives of unvaccinated persons to travel.
It is simply embarrassing to see, as has recently happened, professional sports teams drive across the border rather than fly because they don’t want to be bothered by the rigmarole of pandemic rules still on the books.
It’s time for Trudeau to do the right thing and drop these over-the-top rules. At this point, they’re nothing more than COVID theatre.
New Zealand to price sheep and cow burps to cut greenhouse gases
New Zealand on Wednesday released a draft plan to put a price on agricultural emissions in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, belching sheep and cattle.
The proposal would make New Zealand, a large agricultural exporter, the first country to have farmers pay for emissions from livestock, the Ministry for Environment said.
New Zealand, home to 5 million people, has about 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.
Nearly half its total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane, but agricultural emissions have previously been exempted from the country’s emissions trading scheme, drawing criticism of the government’s commitment to stop global warming.
Under the draft plan, put together by government and farm community representatives, farmers will have to pay for their gas emissions from 2025. Short-and long-lived farm gas will be priced separately, although a single measure to calculate their volume will be used.
“There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.
The proposal includes incentives for farmers who reduce emissions through feed additives, while on-farm forestry can be used to offset emissions. Revenue from the scheme will be invested in research, development and advisory services for farmers.
“Our recommendations enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations while playing a fair part in meeting our country’s climate commitments,” said Michael Ahie, chair of the primary sector partnership, He Waka Eke Noa.
The proposal would potentially be the biggest regulatory disruption to farming since the removal of agricultural subsidies in the 1980s, said Susan Kilsby, agricultural economist at ANZ Bank.