Splendors and Miseries of Public Health

François Legault is exasperated. The Minister of Education is besieged. His colleague in charge of sports is handcuffed.

Like a beacon in the night, she has become the sole arbiter of all these debates. The only truth.

But there you have it, the pandemic has taught us one thing. Public Health is not infallible.

This is how the Legault government, like all the others, is forced to face the storm on quicksand.

Open the windows!

The perennial debate on ventilation in schools is the perfect example.

Minister Jean-François Roberge has been criticized and shouted down for months for his refusal to install air purifiers in schools. Here he is condemned to plead that there is nothing like opening the windows, even when it is freezing cold outside.

Let’s be clear, asking children to wear a big sweater in class is far from being the worst threat to their school career. Nevertheless, you really have to work in an ivory tower to imagine that such an instruction will not ignite the powder of union and parental alarmism.

The planet invented revolutionary vaccines in less than a year, but in Quebec we ventilate our schools like in the days of Curé Labelle!

We can blame Minister Roberge for not putting his foot down in the face of public health dogmatism, but he promised to listen to them! So what to do?

The INSPQ may be right that there is nothing like a breath of fresh air to reduce viral load in a classroom, just as it may be right that the evidence is not is not 100% made that an N95 is THE best mask for our teachers.

But do these conclusions fit with the reality of our schools, our climate?

La science

The cat is sort of out of the bag with the tabling of the Health and Welfare Commissioner’s report.

A few paragraphs, passed almost unnoticed. However, it deplores the slowness of the INSPQ, its lack of agility and a “particularly rigid process for publishing scientific opinions in the context of an emergency”. A venerable institution, which practices absolutely rigorous science, but which struggles to adapt to the mood swings of an unpredictable virus!

However, it is to this institution that Public Health and the government rely for their decisions!

This is not to condemn Public Health and the INSPQ. On the contrary, these experts and scientists are doing remarkable work in surreal conditions, atrophied by years of underfunding.

However, THE science is not a monolithic dogma, but the fruit of consensus which evolves according to knowledge which deepens. Let’s not forget that.

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