Discrimination of the Most Vulnerable and Overlooked Minority

All Lives Should Matter

One would think that in the year 2020 and with the pandemic that has had us all with way too much time to think, that we would have come up with solutions to end the discrimination we have been plagued with since probably the beginning of time. We often hear of discrimination of various minority groups, but we seldom hear of those who are often the most vulnerable. By this time I have little doubt that most people have heard of the police brutality inflicted on George Floyd which ultimately cost him his life back on May 25th of this year. It was alleged by a store clerk in Minneapolis that Mr. Floyd had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. Four police officers attended the scene with one of those officers pinning George Floyd to the ground and knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as a method of restraining him. Cameras recording the gruesome incident picked up audio where Mr. Floyd was making it known he was having difficulty breathing. Despite whatever Mr. Floyd's past was, no one deserves to have that type of restraint placed upon them and the police officers attending the scene could have used alternate methods of restraint which would have resulted in a much different outcome. It is quite likely that had the outcome been different, there would still have been negative comments on social media given that Mr. Floyd was black and apprehended with very little evidence to support his arrest.

Covid-19 and Disabilities

With Covid-19 came a lot of changes, including the use of social distancing and many stores and other indoor events requiring the use of masks. Here in Canada, we have laws that outline issues including human rights with many of those making it clear how we react to such situations as a pandemic. Those rights include that when a vaccine becomes available, that should one wish, they would not have to be vaccinated, despite the dilemma such refusal could cause when it comes to the transmission of a potentially deadly virus. In a recent poll of Canadians, nearly one-half made it clear they would not be getting the vaccine and there were many others who indicated they would be waiting it out to see how others reacted to it before they would consider undertaking a vaccination for themselves and their children. For myself, I will definitely be getting vaccinated when the time comes as I believe the benefits of such an action would outweigh the potential risks. There is no doubt that there will be those who will become ill from getting vaccinated, and there may be even some who die from the vaccine, but I believe there will be far more deaths of those who become infected by the virus itself, and we have certainly seen many people in every country succumb to this extremely dangerous virus. In the interim, until all are vaccinated, we have to maintain social distancing protocols and those who are able will also need to wear a mask to protect others should they be ill, as there are many who could be infected and are asymptomatic. Unfortunately, there are those who are unable to wear a mask for various reasons, and because of this, they are signaled out and discriminated against.

What if you Can't Wear a Mask

What does one do if they happen to be someone who has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask and they have to enter a store that has in place a policy requiring masks? I know most would say that they have heard from various levels of government that such people are protected and if they have valid medical proof, they can enter such establishments and purchase their necessary items or attend their appointments. Unfortunately, this is far from reality and there are establishments that seem to have their own views and interpretations of the law. Unfortunately, there are specific phrases within the masking legislation that is being misinterpreted and has some stores barring people with such medical conditions from entering their establishments. One would think that these are probably mom and pop stores, but the reality is that most of these are large chain stores that most would think would have lawyers that are able to interpret the human rights laws and inform staff working in these stores of such. My wife happens to be one of those who has a medical condition that prevents her from wearing a mask. Not only has she been refused entry in some of these stores, but she has also been subjected to harassment from others who are customers also shopping in those stores. For those who are shopping in these stores, the masks are being worn to prevent themselves from passing the virus to others, not the other way around. Those who are unable to wear masks are often scared beyond what most can imagine due to being unable to protect themselves as those who can wear a mask. Most of these stores have people in place at the door to ensure those who are entering are wearing a mask and those who are unable to wear one are doing so in accordance to legislation and have a medical reason for not donning a mask. So instead of ridiculing or lecturing someone for not wearing a mask, use some common sense and realize these people have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask and that they are placing themselves at the highest risk of all people of being infected so they can do such mundane tasks as getting their groceries or picking up their medical prescriptions. There are others who are clearly refusing to wear a mask due to their beliefs and it's those people who should be scolded for not following the masking rules, not the people who have medical conditions and documentation from their doctors clearly outlining such.

Businesses Defying Human Rights Legislation

So what businesses are I aware of that are not following the human rights legislation here in the province of Ontario where I live? For starters, the national chain of Canadian Tire stores where their head office use the excuse that the stores are privately owned and therefore the owner can decide which rules they are going to follow and how strict they are going to be in implementing the masking policies. Another one is Old Navy, and their head office uses the same excuse but acknowledges that the policies are supposed to be in accordance with both provincial and federal laws pertaining to human rights. Another is Fabricland, which prevented my wife from entering the store despite her stating she had a doctor's note and offered to show such to the staff there. When I went in wearing my mask, the person behind the counter instructed me that I had to use their hand sanitizer despite my just using my own in front of her and explaining I was uncomfortable having to pick up items from their counter that others had just touched. I also indicated to this particular person that she was not wearing her mask properly and was a risk to all in the store who she was ringing through as she was within 6 feet of people and there were no barriers in place to help prevent transmission of the virus.

Conclusion

I spent many years working in environments where it was required to wear a mask. I also spent many years working as a Health and Safety representative and I am also certified in the province of Ontario in Health and Safety. Many of the stores I have been in where they are refusing people entry despite having documentation do not seem to be aware of the legislation regarding masking. I have also seen many of the employees in such establishments fail miserably in using PPE properly to prevent transmission of this virus. Masks need to be covering the entire face including the nose and mouth, but many are just wearing the mask over their mouths with their noses uncovered. Products are being placed on shelves and moved around after customers have touched them without the use of gloves and no hand sanitizer in sight. The same applies to those customers who are berating those who are unable to wear masks for legitimate reasons. They act like some type of deity within the confines of the store belittling others for not wearing masks and once they are outside, they are hugging and kissing people exclaiming how long it has been since they last saw them. Are you kidding me? You can yell at someone in the store for not wearing a mask and yet you are hugging and kissing someone you haven't seen in some time not knowing if they are infected or not and are doing so without a mask on. You have just portrayed yourself as the ultimate idiot and should be taking a long, hard look in the mirror before crapping all over someone else for not wearing a mask that they are unable to. I have been in a store with my wife when she was told by another customer to put her mask on and I was very quick to tell them to fuck off and mind their own fucking business and that she already provided her reasoning at the door to store staff and had no reason to answer to someone who clearly doesn't know the human rights legislation or that surrounding the use of masks.

Covid-19 is a serious issue and we are going to be stuck with it for some time to come. People who want to crap on others for not wearing a mask in a store should focus their efforts on those who are doing so as a protest in regards to their beliefs. They should not be signaling out people who have medical conditions and are unable to wear a mask. People who are unable to wear a mask are already under pressure many cannot even begin to imagine and then to be denied entry or be yelled at by someone when they are simply trying to get a task that was once considered a normal, daily activity, is discrimination at an entirely new level. For the majority of these people, day to day life is already considerably harder than that of those who lead normal lives without the burdens of having chronic medical conditions. Often, such people are aware of how hard it can be to live with such chronic conditions or disabilities and are the first to step up and help others while having to live with their own conditions. Store owners and people attending those stores who think their rights are being violated when someone with a medical condition is unable to wear a mask would be wise to stop and think before inflicting their vile and hatred based comments on those with disabilities and medical conditions that don't reflect their beliefs and standards.

GP Joa

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