Earlier this year there were over 25,000 active cases of covid-19 in Alberta alone. Now there are fewer than 14,000 active cases in the whole country. Well over 70% of Canadians aged 12+ are now vaccinated against covid-19, making a "fourth wave" of any significance very unlikely.
As covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rapidly decline across Canada, it's time to take the blinders off and recognize that there's more to public health than just one disease. While public health officials and politicians were laser-focused on covid-19, Canadians' mental health deteriorated and opioid overdoses skyrocketed.
Public health laws have resulted in widespread social isolation, which is an exacerbating factor for mental illness. This has led to an alarming increase in the number of children admitted to hospital for substance abuse and attempted suicide. Social isolation has also fanned the flames of the opioid crisis. In BC and Alberta more people died of drug overdoses last year than covid-19. As governments imposed social distancing laws and reduced access to supervised injection sites, many drug users died alone with no one around to help.
The opioid crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, and more Canadians are dying of overdoses every day. Public health officials and politicians continue to obsess over covid-19, with endless talk about travel restrictions and vaccine passports, but covid-19 is no longer the country's most pressing public health concern. Officials must reverse policies that have led to social isolation and exacerbated Canada's mental health and opioid crises. Governments must invest in supervised consumption sites, which are proven to save lives. If officials put half as much effort into combating the opioid crisis as they did in combating covid-19, it is possible to turn the tide and stop the tsunami of overdose deaths.