Mask Exemptions – Every single mask by-law across Canada allows for exemptions, and you can’t berate someone that you may think is taking advantage of this. This may make you uncomfortable, especially if you believe masks are effective in reducing the transmission of the virus – but this is a reality Canadians need to understand and honour. We will also address the question surrounding the effectiveness of masks – do they protect you or others?
The mask by-law starts with the statement The Council of The Regional Municipality of Waterloo enacts as follows:
(1) Every person within an enclosed public place shall wear face covering.
This is followed by the statement that says;
(3) A “person” in subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall include any occupant within an enclosed public place and shall include, but not be limited to, any owner, operator, employee and worker in the enclosed public place and any customer, patron or other visitor in the enclosed public place but shall not include any of the following persons:
(a) A child who is under the age of five years old;
(b) A person who is unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability pursuant to the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, a person who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance or for whom a face covering would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe;
(d) A person while assisting or accommodating another person with a hearing disability;
It then instructs people to not challenge a declared exemption;
(4) No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions set out in subsections (3)(a), (b) and (d) of this section.
It also details this in the general FAQ on the Waterloo region page about the mask by-law and makes it very clear what is and isn’t allowed;
Can businesses require proof of exemption?
“No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof to support an exemption.”
Do I have to show proof that I am exempt from the by-law?
“No proof is required to show you are exempt from wearing a face covering. The expectation is that individuals who self-identify as exempt should be allowed into an enclosed public place.”
If a business is refusing to provide service and honour your mask exemption you can make a report here.
There are many reasons to not wear a mask as detailed by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Many of these are not visible (mental) and include things like;
- depression (does the mask cause you to be depressed?)
- anxiety (does the mask cause you to be anxious?)
- panic attacks (past experiences may trigger a panic attack while wearing a face mask)
This is just naming a few.
City mask by-law list
- Toronto mask by-law
- Ottawa mask by-law
- Edmonton mask by-law
- Saskatoon mask by-law (not mandatory but strongly recommended is our understanding)
- Regina mask by-law
- Calgary mask by-law
- Halifax mask by-law
- St.John’s NF mask by-law
Every single by-law allows for exemptions.
Do masks protect me or others?
You’ve likely heard it a hundred times by now – masks save lives! Then you will get antidotal examples of how doctors use them in surgery to prevent infection – but this is backed by medical literature which calls this whole notion into question dating back to 1975 in a study titled: The operating room environment as affected by people and the surgical face mask.
1975 – “The wearing of a surgical face mask had no effect upon the overall operating room environmental contamination and probably work only to redirect the projectile effect of talking and breathing. People are the major source of environmental contamination in the operating room.”
1989 – “We, therefore, prospectively evaluated the experience of 504 patients undergoing percutaneous left heart catheterization, seeking evidence of a relationship between whether caps and/or masks were worn by the operators and the incidence of infection. No infections were found in any patient, regardless of whether a cap or mask was used. Thus, we found no evidence that caps or masks need to be worn during percutaneous cardiac catheterization.”
1991 – “It has never been shown that wearing surgical face masks decreases postoperative wound infections. On the contrary, a 50% decrease has been reported after omitting face masks. During 115 weeks, a total of 3,088 patients were included in the study. Weeks were denoted as “masked” or “unmasked” according to a random list. After 1,537 operations performed with face masks, 73 (4.7%) wound infections were recorded and, after 1,551 operations performed without face masks, 55 (3.5%) infections occurred. This difference was not statistically significant (p> 0.05) and the bacterial species cultured from the wound infections did not differ in any way, which would have supported the fact that the numerical difference was a statistically “missed” difference.”
2001 – “Orr16 Mitchell11 and Tunevall’s24 studies represent levels of evidence of level III-3, level III-2 and level II
respectively. These studies provide sound scientifically-based evidence that, in the setting of a modern operating theatre with laminar flow/steriflow systems, surgical masks should no longer be considered mandatory for anesthetists and non-scrub staff
during most surgical procedures.”
2001 – “This article describes our five-year experience of continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) with bag exchanges performed without use of a face mask. All patients admitted to the CAPD program from February 1995 to March 2000 were trained to perform bag exchanges without use of a face mask. We evaluated 94 patients (52 women, 42 men) with a mean age of 48 ± 21 years and a total follow-up of 50,502 patient–days. During that time, 79 episodes of peritonitis occurred in 46 patients, for a peritonitis rate of 0.57 episodes/year. Peritonitis rates during the study period were not different from those reported by other centers, supporting the hypothesis that routine use of a face mask during CAPD bag exchange may be unnecessary.”
2009 – “No significance difference in the incidence of postoperative wound infection was observed between masks group and groups operated with no masks (1.34, 95% CI, 0.58-3.07). There was no increase in infection rate in 1980 when masks were discarded. In fact there was significant decrease in infection rate (p < 0.05).” The study found a “significant decrease” in infection rates when masks were discarded.
2010 – “Eight hundred twenty‐seven participants undergoing elective or emergency obstetric, gynecological, general, orthopaedic, breast or urological surgery in an Australian tertiary hospital were enrolled. Complete follow‐up data were available for 811 patients (98.1%). Overall, 83 (10.2%) surgical site infections were recorded; 46/401 (11.5%) in the Masked group and 37/410 (9.0%) in the No Mask group. Surgical site infection rates did not increase when non‐scrubbed operating room personnel did not wear a face mask.”
2014 – “A search performed in PubMed found four studies based on 6.006 patients. The studies described the use of surgical masks in surgery with post-operative infections as endpoint, and the studies had to include a control group. None of the four studies found a difference in the number of post-operative infections whether you used a surgical mask or not. ” This study goes on to say more studies need to be done, but as as you can see there is a history that’s been established already. It is a worldwide practice to wear masks in the operating room so questioning this is likely seen as taboo and thus the studies don’t get done in the capacity desired to change practice.
2015 – “Facemasks do have a clear role in maintaining the social cleanliness of surgical staff, but evidence is lacking to suggest that they confer protection from infection either to patients or to the surgeons that wear them. Given that there is no evidence that they cause any harm either, proponents would rather err on the side of caution and encourage their continued use, stressing that there is no room for complacency when it comes to ensuring patient safety.“
We will now examine one more thing – a court case by The Ontario Nursing Association that found surgical masks didn’t protect the staff or patient. This court case came about after hospitals tried to enforce mandatory masking on all nurses who refused the influenza vaccine.
2018 – “After reviewing extensive expert evidence submitted by both ONA and St. Michael’s Hospital, which was the lead case for the TAHSN group, Arbitrator William Kaplan, in his September 6 decision, found that St. Michael’s VOM policy is “illogical and makes no sense” and “is the exact opposite of being reasonable.“ They further testified that nurses who have no symptoms are unlikely to be a real source of transmission and that it was not logical to force healthy unvaccinated nurses to mask. Arbitrator Kaplan accepted this expert evidence. In contrast, he noted the only fair words to describe the hospital’s evidence in support of masking are “insufficient, inadequate and completely unpersuasive.”
Coronavirus sizes – ranges from 80-180 nanometers in size. Covid in particular is roughly 120 nanometers.
Flu virus size – ranges from 150-300 nanometers.
N95 masks are made to filter down to 300 nanometers – this doesn’t mean they don’t filter some of the particles less than this size, just that they will allow for virus penetration and aren’t 100% effective. They are also only designed for single use. This means if someone is re-using the masks again and again – they aren’t performing to the specs they were designed for. Re-used masks over time therefore likely lose their effectiveness against smaller particles.
Scant evidence is being used to strip the rights of Canadians
We’ve just covered different studies that show no significant difference in masks vs unmasked groups in preventing infection. We also showed that in the 2018 Ontario nursing association court decision against mandatory masking the arbitrator ruled in favour of the nursing association because there was a lack of evidence that masks protected the patient or wearer of a nurse exhibiting no symptoms of illness (whole basis of the mask mandate).
An N95 mask may help in reducing the intact of virus particles, but only if worn effectively and not re-used and this is not guaranteed – just a maybe. We showed that particle sizes of the Covid virus are less than 300 nanometers – smaller than the size of microns the N95 is meant to filter out.
With this new evidence in mind, and the masking by-laws exemptions clearly outlined – we can now have a different public discussion about the harm masking is causing our society. These mandates are hurting real people. These mandates are affecting the development of children and modifying the behaviours of adults. The true repercussions on society may not be known for many years after the dust has settled – so let us have a serious discussion now.
If you want to wear a mask – wear a mask, no one is stopping you. However, to insinuate that the person who doesn’t wear a mask is selfish and doesn’t care about others is based on ignorance – especially in light of the medical studies you’ve just been presented with. My personal belief is that mandatory masking is acting as a placebo for a society that has been drilled with a fear-based news cycle that has not relented since this whole ordeal with Covid began.
Canadians are known for being reasonable, kind, and courteous of others. This discussion goes both ways – masked and unmasked. So let us open up the public discussion to the potential harms of mandatory masking and potential benefits. I think once this happens – we will see the potential benefits pale in comparison to the potential harms. These harms include both mental and physical.
Diverge Media Articles on Covid and related policies
Article: The Real Covid Data
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