(Courtesy of CBC News)
Canadians are expected to head to the polls on Sept. 20 in a federal vote that could be overshadowed by a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts say it’s possible to conduct a federal election safely across the country, provided Elections Canada has enough time to develop health and safety rules for polling stations and pays attention to public health restrictions.
Fahad Razak, an internal medicine physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, says it will involve case-by-case decisions that depend on location, riding, and public health restrictions in the particular community. He raised the question of increased mail in ballots.
Questions about safety in polling stations and campaign events across Canada arose as soon as news broke Thursday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to call a snap election within days. Trudeau is planning to visit Rideau Hall on Sunday to ask that Parliament be dissolved, said sources with knowledge of his plans who spoke to CBC News on the condition they not be named. The vote is said to be scheduled for Sept. 20.
On that day, poll workers will have to feel confident in their own safety, and so do voters lining up in polling stations where the vaccinated will almost certainly be mixing with the unvaccinated, Razak notes.