Government rule for kids stricter than for criminals.
In November of 2019, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)1 successfully challenged the federal government of Canada to make changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act2 by removing section 44 (1)(f)3. This section enabled correctional facilities to place problematic inmates in solitary confinement for up to 30 days, with or without visitation from those outside the facility. The government replaced this section with Structured Intervention Units (SIU)4 described in sections 31-37 of the same act. Section 36(a) states that inmates must have a minimum of four hours outside their cell, while 31(b) says that two of those hours must be meaningful human contact. Of note, meaningful human contact, as defined in section 32(2), is without physical barriers.
As defined by rule 44 of the United Nation’s (UN’s) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners5, solitary confinement is defined as “22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact,” with prolonged solitary confinement defined as” in excess of 15 consecutive days.”
The UN’s rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty6 section 67 prohibits solitary confinement for youth.
To be clear, the UN has deemed solitary confinement as less than two hours per day of meaningful human contact and prohibits its use on minors. In agreement, the Canadian government has removed the use of inmate segregation up to 30 days in favour of SIU, allowing for at least two hours of meaningful human contact.
According to the Nova Scotia coronavirus website7, anyone who is a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate. The rules for that include:
- staying home
- avoiding public spaces and wearing a mask if you can’t
- if you have no symptoms, you may go outdoors for 1 hour of activity
- have groceries delivered.
Requirements for self-isolation are much stricter if an individual has travelled outside of the Province. At this point, isolation must be completely separate from the rest of a household, including the bathroom. If this can not be accommodated, then everyone in the home needs to isolate. It is here, this stricter self-isolation away from other members of one’s household, that there appears to be a contradiction with solitary confinement laws.
The final and most concerning piece of information is an info-graphic posted to social media by the Nova Scotia Health Authorities8 in April of 2021. If a child is considered a close contact, this graphic instructed parents on how their children should self-isolate. Two options were presented; option one was more suited to older children, while option two was more suited to younger. Both options involve the child being isolated away from other family members for up to 14 days. Option two gives one parent or guardian the ability to care for and encourage the child while isolating the child as much as possible – a sort of modified solitary I suppose.
On May 13, CBC Kids put out an article/ vlog on this very subject9. 14-year-old Isabelle MacNeil from Dartmouth describes how her entire grade 9 class had to self-isolate after public health determined they were all close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case. In the piece, she explains what this meant. According to public health protocols as directed by Dr. Strang, if she had a mask on, she was permitted to leave her bedroom for the following reasons
- To use the bathroom
- One hour of outdoor activity per day
- To use a home gym if no one else was present
- To get three COVID tests
These protocols in no way line up with the laws established by the Federal Government of Canada’s Structured Intervention Units. Nor does it abide by the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules of the Treatment of Prisoners. Both of which are standards set for adults. According to the UN, the use of solitary confinement on children is deemed cruel and inhumane. They also state, “the restriction or denial of contact with family members should be prohibited for any purpose.” Yet, Dr. Robert Strang is encouraging this same treatment. Ms. MacNeil even interviewed him in her vlog for CBC Kids.
“This is cruel punishment for a child, especially for younger children, 4-10 years old,” Dr. Susan Richardson, a microbiologist and infectious disease physician who is also a professor emerita at University of Toronto. “Shutting a child off from their parents and siblings for up to 14 days in this manner could produce significant and long-lasting emotional and psychological effects.”
While some of Strang’s fawning supporters may attempt to defend isolation requirements for asymptomatic children, few scientist will.
“I don’t understand how any health-care professional has moved so far away from the fundamentals of public health and of doing no harm that they would think that basically incarcerating a child in a room for 14 days is in any way justified,” said Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Science who focuses on pediatrics.
“This is shocking,” she adds, “especially when you consider this is being proposed for children who are not in any way sick.”
Why do adult prisoners in solitary confinement have more freedoms than teenagers in close contact with a positive COVID case? And why does the Chief Medical Officer of Nova Scotia encourage parents to cruelly lock their healthy children in a room for up to 14 days in complete defiance of science and common sense?
Dr. Richardson says “An asymptomatic child in a classroom with one child testing positive is at very low risk for acquiring infection. Most importantly, we are losing sight of the fact that if he/she should contract COVID while quarantining at home, they and their siblings are at an extremely low risk of suffering severe disease as a consequence.”
The Provincial Government in New Brunswick is preparing legislation to grant prosecution immunity to themselves after the state of emergency ends. Dr. Strang and Premier Rankin may want to take note.
1: Canadian Civil Liberties Association
2: Corrections and Conditional Release Act
3: Section 44(1)(f)
4: Structured Intervention Units
5: United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
6: United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty
7: Nova Scotia coronavirus website, under “symptoms and testing”
8: Nova Scotia Health Authorities Info-graphic, there are 2 slides
9: CBC Kids article
10: Health Protection Order
Expert quotes taken from a Toronto Sun article about this same thing happening in Peel Ontario. We encourage you to read that as well.