Canadian public health officials repeat reassurances that the risk of COVID-19 in Canada is low or mild, and continue to ignore social conditions that put people at serious risk. We are told that a country with a strong public health system such as Canada is at lower risk for virus spread. Yet this year, 235,000 people will face homelessness, an opioid overdose epidemic remains unchecked and Indigenous communities continue to face inadequate housing and unsafe water supplies.

In all the COVID-19 media coverage I have not heard one mention by the public health experts of poverty, homelessness or the shelter conditions that force people to live in tight quarters with hundreds of people. But public health officials have always ignored these conditions, whether it was during SARS or subsequent dangers.