I’d like to say to all the protesters: the public health restrictions obviously affect you, but they are not about you. Your freedom is very important. But nobody is actually trying to take it away, or to control you. None of us likes the restrictions, but unfortunately, they are necessary for protection because of the dangers of the pandemic. Their purpose is to save lives, including yours, and those you love. Also they are there to protect our health-care system. The pandemic has been a real threat to all Canadians and to our beloved health-care system. Despite the restrictions, COVID has caused over 30,000 deaths across Canada—it would be similar to wiping out a small city. Millions and millions of Canadian have become sick. Intensive care units, doctors, and nurses have staggered under the massive burden of care. As a result, patients have received less good care, and hundreds of thousands of medically necessary surgeries and procedures have been canceled or delayed due to the healthcare system being overloaded with COVID patients. It would be nice if we didn’t need the vaccinations, masks, and restrictions, but life as we know it has shown that we do. The restrictions are there for our protection, not to hurt you by limiting your freedom. A family member who was recently working in an Alberta ICU during the fourth wave reported to us about extra ICU beds being created, nurses having to care for more patients than they can handle, clinical staff being burned out, overworked, and demoralized, and people dying—with the vast majority of them, tragically, being unvaccinated. I also came down with COVID recently, and six weeks later, I am still feeling unwell with persistent symptoms. If there were a fire, and firemen were giving instructions to protect people and manage the emergency, we would not protest that they are taking away our freedom by telling us what to do. The public health physicians guiding the government are like the firemen, experts at protecting people and our healthcare system, and managing the emergency. How is your protesting any different than protesting against firemen who are trying to manage a massive fire which is raging across all of Canada? If you really hate the health restrictions, the fastest way to get rid of them is to join the vaccinated and decrease the real threat of COVID. Unlike what has been said on some social media that has been spreading misinformation, science has proven that the vaccines are safe and effective. They may not guarantee that you won’t get COVID, but they will do a GREAT job of keeping you from needing hospitalization or dying from it. Nora Hagen Cochrane, Alta.