Ten days ago in the Massachusetts town of Great Barrington, Oxford University professor Dr. Sunetra Gupta along with Harvard University’s Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya authored a call to end lockdowns and adopt new strategies against the Covid pandemic. Some 6000 doctors and 58,000 members of the public have signed on through online petition. It has come to be known as the Great Barrington Declaration.
Cosignatories, across disciplines ranging from epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health, through psychiatry and self-harm, to finance and human geography, include Sucharit Bhakdi, Angus Dalgleish, Mike Hulme, David L. Katz, 2013 Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry Michael Levitt, Gülnur Muradoğlu, David Livermore, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, and Karol Sikora
The Declaration opposes general coronavirus lockdown measures. It urges that those not in the at risk categories should be able to get on with their lives as normal, and that lockdown rules in both the US and UK are causing ‘irreparable damage’. It declares that social distancing and mask mandates are causing ‘damaging physical and mental health impacts.’
“Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,” the Declaration states adding “Keeping these [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”
It continues, “The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular [heart] disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.”
The Declaration adds that, “Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.”
It advocates that, “Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home.”
Finally, the declaration demands that, “Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”
The declaration dovetails with other statements from around the world.
Just this week the World Health Organization reversed its position and warned against relying on COVID-19 lockdowns to tackle outbreaks. WHO envoy Dr. David Nabarro said,” We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.We’d rather not do it. Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, recently warned that lockdown measures throughout the globe will end up killing more people than the Coronavirus itself. In an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Muller warned that the response to the global pandemic has resulted in “one of the biggest” hunger and poverty crises in history.
Annie Janvier, PhD, one of the declaration’s cosigners and a pediatric and clinical ethics professor at the University of Montreal, said that “it’s not science that seems to be leading what’s going on with COVID, it’s public opinion and politics.”
It should be noted that through this crisis there has not been a similarly strong declaration of support for the general global lockdowns — a first in history — anywhere in the world. You can read the Declaration in full at the following link https://gbdeclaration.org
While opposition councillors are unanimous in demanding a property tax freeze, independent Vimont councillor Michel Poissant says businesses also need a break and tabled a motion to debate the issue next month.
According to Poissant, the city can manage municipal finances without increasing residential and commercial property taxes annually thanks to revenues from new condo towers, as was the case before the Demers era.
Last year the city posted a surplus of $59 million. “The property tax generates $742 million annually” says Poissant, adding that foregoing a 1.5% increase, deprives city coffers of $10 million, “which means the 2019 surplus would still have been $49 million.”
“A residence with a valuation of $364,000, pays just over $3,000 in property taxes. For a property assessment of the same value, a daycare pays $10,000, triple that. With the pandemic raging, many merchants, restaurateurs, garages, daycares, etc., are going through difficult times… A freeze would go a long way in ensuring their sustainability and allow the city to keep its businesses active, perpetuating revenue generation for the next few years.”
The administration has looked to its accumulated reserves to catch up on Laval’s generally acknowledged lack of infrastructure, and the Demers administration has been aggressive on building and repairing roadways and pursuing big ticket items, like Place Bell, a central aquatic centre, a central library, the downtown development, a bio methane plant and more. It also steered millions reclaimed from collusion and corruption in 2017-2018 into a special fund for youth, rather than giving it back to the payers via a tax freeze.
The significant surpluses were rapped in the 2015 Auditor General report, hitting almost half a billion dollars, as taxes continued to be hiked. “With this money, it will be easy to make up for the $60 million shortfall from COVID-19” says Poissant.