There is plenty of debate going on concerning the loosening of restrictions surrounding Covid-19 and getting back to our normal way of life.

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Some see no reason whatsoever to keep the restrictions in place, some believe if we loosen up too much now the disease will return in a second wave with a vengeance, and some are simply not sure what to think.

There are no easy answers but we’ve come this far and, at this point in the game, better to be safe than sorry and find ourselves right back at square one.

Those who simply spout numbers in connection to the deaths we’ve seen with Covid-19 and the declining number of new cases aren’t looking at the big picture.

Yes, we need to restart the economy. But at what cost will it ultimately prove to be if we go all-in at this point and simply lift most of the restrictions and take our chances?

One area many folks aren’t considering is the cost to the economy of people who need surgery or other forms of medical treatment and have had their procedures delayed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation.

A new study released May 7 by the Fraser Institute – an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank – showed that long waits for surgery and medical treatment cost Canadians almost $2.1 billion in lost wages and productivity last year, before the dawn of the Covid-19 era.

And those costs are more than likely to increase due to many provinces having postponed elective (or scheduled) surgeries as a result of Covid-19.

Imagine a second wave striking even harder and overwhelming many health-care facilities in the country to the point where the majority of surgeries are postponed indefinitely.

Even if elective surgeries resume in the near future, there will be a large backlog of patients waiting for care and that number is only going to increase in the short term.

The Fraser Institute study shows that more than one million Canadian patients waited for medically necessary treatment last year, and each was denied, on average, an estimated $1,963 due to lost wages and reduced productivity during working hours.

And that was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across Canada, the costs of waiting for medical care were about $2.1 billion, with the median wait from specialist appointments to treatment for a patient being 10.8 weeks.

We simply can’t afford to fall behind any further when Covid-19 has run its course, let alone deal with the spike in additional wait times were a second wave to put us all back to square one.

It’s a fantastic thing that, as I write this, we still haven’t had a confirmed case of Covid-19 in Nunavut.

But that can create a false sense of security and, if we let our guard down and loosen too many restrictions too soon, there will be a high price to pay.

We all have our opinions on the matter at this point in time and mine is our various levels of government should move slowly and with great caution as we take baby steps back toward normalcy in our everyday lives.

Our territorial government has done an outstanding job dealing with this pandemic so far, and it should stay the course for awhile longer until we see how the south fares as it continues to loosen restrictions.

We have a long road of recovery awaiting us, an extra mile or two won’t hurt.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...