Published on February 6, 2020
It is not uncommon that people are scared of the new Coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China. However, the fears not only come from the virus itself but also from some misleading and fake information spreading on the Internet. As a result of the fears, xenophobia starts to merge and grow rapidly.
As you may have realized, the fears have caused numerous human rights issues. Knowing some of those issues will help you protect yourself or your loved ones.
Human rights are basic rights that equally apply to everyone. In Canada, the law protecting human rights includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom under the Constitution Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and other human rights legislation of individual provinces and territories.
One issue currently up for debate is whether the Canadian government shall bar all flights from China. Should the government take such an action, human rights play an important factor.
One is mobility rights. Canadian citizens have an absolute right to enter Canada, whereas Canadian permanent residents shall be allowed to enter Canada if they are admissible – in this setting – not posting a danger to public health. Currently, there are hundreds of Canadians living in Wuhan, China, and thousands more living in other cities in China. To protect those Canadians’ mobility rights, the government shall ensure air transportation keeps running.
Another issue occurred when some people petitioned the York Region School Board and asked it to ban students who had visited China if no self-quarantine was made. The School Board replied to the petitioners that there was a risk of “demonstrating bias and racism.” The School Board’s decision was also based on human rights protections. Every individual has the right to receive services no matter what their country of origin is. Therefore, the School Board cannot bar anyone from attending school simply because they have just visited China.
Besides legal human rights issues, Asian communities and businesses have also been the victims of xenophobia. Under such a human catastrophe, xenophobia is no cure.
Canada has a strong public health system. For updates on the situation and to keep away from false information, keep an eye on the updates from city, provincial and federal officials.