Ontario former health officer censored by CBC for critical COVID-19 opinion

The CBC ignored the former medical officer of health, giving only those who unquestionably aligned with government-imposed COVID-19 response plans a platform while ignoring any dissent.

Ontario former health officer censored by CBC for critical COVID-19 opinion
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
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Dr. Richard Schabas, Ontario’s former top health official, says he was blacklisted from CBC for expressing concern about the knee-jerk government-imposed measures implemented during the pandemic declaration.

During a live CBC interview on March 22, 2020, Schabas critiqued sweeping COVID-19 measures, citing a lack of evidence and uncertainty.

“I thought it was important that there be some pushback…that we don't know what we're talking about with COVID and … there's so much uncertainty and we're busy doing things that make very little sense, and we're not sure why we're doing them,” he told the National Citizens Inquiry in Regina last week, as reported by the Western Standard.

Shortly after, Schabas learned from his physician daughter in another province that his comments sparked backlash on Twitter (now X).

Schabas claims that a former CBC journalist, who was working as a physician's assistant, advised cutting him from coverage. He also explained that medical biologist Dr. Neil Rao who had previously served as CTV News’ infectious disease expert, received similar treatment.

“I don’t know whether this was based on ideology or whether this was political cover, because what we were saying was highly critical of what government was doing,” Schabas speculated.

Schabas said that the CBC ombudsman lacked the power to force any changes after he brought forward concern about this censorship.

Dr. Schabas served as Chief of Staff at York Central Hospital in Toronto during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and held the title of Chief Medical Officer of Health between 1987 and 1997.

Schabas claimed that Canada followed the response of Asian countries during the initial SARS outbreak and did the same when the pandemic hit in March 2020, in what he coined as “monkey see, monkey do.”

He said public health lacked reflection on the initial SARS response and lessons learned. “They took the attitude that SARS had come and gone away, therefore, we have done a great job. Let's move on.”

But throughout COVID-19, the underlying theme was that asymptomatic spread was rampant, and having no symptoms was one of the symptoms. Unprecedented mass quarantine of healthy individuals was implemented, including the isolation of kindergarteners who may have been in contact with an infected individual at school.

Schabas denounced general quarantines while still acknowledging that case isolation can help thwart pandemics. That is quarantining sick individuals and letting those who are healthy continue with their lives.

“COVID was an immensely wasteful, a wastage of human potential. The wastage of people's lives, the time that was spent uselessly in quarantine was enormous, and I think to a large measure because we didn't take the time to learn the lessons from SARS,” he said.

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