We make choices every single day.
Choices that range to the benign to life altering. Choices that affect our own lives and others.
We are being tasked at the present moment in history with making choices that require a high level of risk analysis and moral reasoning.
The simple act of a wearing a mask or face covering, for example, is simple concept to undertake. It doesn't require special skills or passing a test in order to be able to achieve this outcome – but it requires a choice.
A choice that requires us to consider the risk from a brand new infectious disease to ourselves, as well as to those around us. A choice that prioritizes the health of others over our own convenience as well.
Masks are uncomfortable, but they are temporary and a small adjustment to be made.
The evidence is clear – COVID-19 is transmitted between people and the closer we are to each other and the more we breathe, the more likely we are to become infected and infect others.
How we react to masks is also a choice.
It is a choice for those who react with nasty looks and outbursts. Those who participate in misinformation campaigns to oppose the suggestion that masks be worn are making a choice.
Making others around you suffer for your choice is immature and unnecessary. It is disruptive and selfish.
Public safety in general is about choices that are made to assess the risk around us.
With the heat of summer finally upon us this week in the Bow Valley, we would like to urge visitors and residents to make good choices when it comes to fire.
The smoke-filled skies of summers past are not a distant memory and other than lightning, wildfires are for the most part human caused.
If there is a fire ban put in place – even for the long weekend – respect those regulations that are in place for your safety. If there is a warning in place, take extra caution with your barbecues, fire pits and campfires.
Homeowners can also do more to battle the risk of wildfire in our communities. Choices were made when your home was built that could put it at risk – like the type of roofing or deck material, location and type of landscaping and where you put your wood pile.
The UCP government also made a choice when it cut the Wildland Firefighter Rappel Program.
This advanced response crew of 60 is flown in by helicopter to wildfires in order to try and snuff them out before they can grow out of control and threaten communities or other infrastructure.
The government also chose to cut staffing at 30 fire towers and funding for one air tanker unit.
It is a great example of how the decisions made at a government level can also affect risk to the public. Like not mandating masks for indoor public settings across the province.
While this government likes to point to other jurisdictions that have done well during the pandemic as examples to follow, many of those have mandated face coverings from the beginning. Like municipal councils in Alberta, those jurisdictions made the choice to require masks or face coverings in public settings because they recognized that just asking people nicely to do the right thing is no guarantee.
If we want more economic activity and the movement of goods and people to continue without a second lockdown – the choice is in our own hands.