View From the Legislature

Kindness Also Fundamental

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

The recent increase in COVID-19 numbers in our province has caused greater concern regarding the coronavirus among Manitobans than likely existed during the days when few if any cases were being reported. Yet, despite the increase in cases, the test positivity rate remains relatively low and there are several simple steps that can be done to combat the spread of the virus.

From the beginning, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer told Manitobans that they are far from powerless when it comes to combatting COVID-19. And over that time a now familiar reminder has been given about the fundamental steps that can be taken to reduce spreading the coronavirus. These are, washing your hands, covering your cough or sneeze, social distancing and staying home if you are feeling sick. While these fundamental steps are now familiar to virtually every Manitoban, during the summer as case counts remained very low, it may have been easy to pay less attention to them.

Now, as fall approaches and there is greater concern being raised about increasing case numbers, health officials are reemphasizing these fundamental steps. But there is something else that we are often reminded about by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, and that is that it is important that we remain kind to each other and that we do not stigmatize others around issues of COVID-19. For friendly Manitobans this would not seem to be something that requires a reminder, after all we even put it on our licence plates. But these are challenging times in many ways and sometimes that stress causes people to react in ways they normally would not.

Already during the pandemic there have been cautions issued about not stigmatizing certain professions that are both essential and often require out of province travel. As well, there has been concern about certain communities being stigmatized. And of course, there have been personal stories about individuals who themselves who have had COVID-19 who felt personal stigmatization or shame. Sadly, we have both seen and heard of situations in retail outlets where store employees have been on the receiving end of heated words from customers who have been frustrated either by store restrictions or simply other challenges.

Of course while these situations do occur and get attention, we must always remember the there are thousands of Manitobans who are engaging daily in unseen acts of kindness for those around them. And these acts of kindness, big and small, are things that we should strive to add to the fundamentals that we are reminded of to reduce transmission of the virus. Because as we learn to live with COVID-19 and to carry on with life, we are doing so as a community. And few things build a community up faster than kindness.

As things continue to evolve with COVID-19, remember the fundamentals, including the kindness you can show to others.