The National Citizen’s Inquiry into the effectiveness of Canada’s COVID-19 measures kicked off on March 16. Two physicians testified to the commission that they were removed from their positions for questioning whether the public health measures were doing more harm than good.
The National Citizen’s Inquiry (NCI) describes itself as a “citizen-led and citizen-funded initiative that is completely independent from government.”
It will examine how the pandemic measures put in place by all levels of government impacted Canadians in four categories: health, fundamental rights and freedoms, social well-being, and economic prosperity.
In her opening statement, NCI Commissioner Janice Kaikkonen said she believes “truth must prevail” in all discussions around the pandemic. “I’m hoping for open discussion and debate to come back into this country, and that freedom of expression and our constitutional rights and freedoms are honoured to once again serve as the bedrock of our foundation,” she said.
NCI Commissioner Bernard Massie, who worked at the National Research Council of Canada as a biotechnology researcher for over 30 years, said during the pandemic he was “hearing things from the scientific community and medical community which to me didn’t jive with my understanding of the science.”
He continued, “So that’s why I thought I could join the inquiry and listen to people that can actually bring their perspective on what happened during this crisis.”
Over the course of two months, the inquiry is holding hearings in nine cities across Canada: Truro, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. The commissioners are expected to produce a final report in late June.
Since the NCI was first announced, over 50,000 Canadians have signed a petition calling for an independent inquiry into the government’s COVID response.
Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning chairs the group of citizens launching the NCI and he announced it in November 2022. He said during the announcement that the magnitude of the public health measures require a “comprehensive, transparent, and objective inquiry.”
“We need to determine what worked, what didn’t, and how we can respond better in the future,” Manning told reporters at the time.
Manning said that while similar inquiries would usually be commissioned by governments under the provisions of the federal or provincial Inquiries Acts, in this case, the federal government would be investigating itself for wrongdoing, resulting in a biased inquiry.
“If the Liberal government took the initiative, the public would say ‘this is a whitewash.’ But if the opposition gets too militant on it, people would say ‘this is a witchhunt.’ So it’s best to keep the parties not directly involved,” Manning said.
A Nova Scotia Doctor’s Testimony
The NCI’s first witness was Dr. Chris Milburn, who has practiced medicine in Nova Scotia for 22 years. At the beginning of the pandemic, Milburn was Chief of Emergency Medicine for Eastern Nova Scotia, tasked with implementing pandemic policies and procedures in the region.
Milburn said there were initially concerns that COVID-19 had a high mortality rate and that “everyone was at risk.” But he said a few months into the pandemic, it was clear that the risk profile was “extremely low” for young people with zero comorbidities.
In Milburn’s area of Nova Scotia, there were just six COVID patients, all of whom were elderly or had comorbidities, he said. But this “paled in comparison,” he said, to the impacts that public health restrictions had on the health of people in the region.
“Because of hospital shutdowns, for instance, I can rhyme off several patients who died of cancer—who I believe didn’t need to die—because their care was delayed. I had patients who were scheduled for joint replacements who suddenly saw the waitlist stretch out over the horizon. I saw patients locked down in nursing homes stop eating and die because they were essentially prisoners and couldn’t see their family,” he said.
Milburn testified that he sent several emails to higher-ups in public health, including Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang, asking for justification for the COVID measures. “I either got no response, or they said ‘our committee decided during private meetings,’ but they didn’t give any justifications,” he said.
Strang’s office did not immediately reply to The Epoch Times inquiry.
In June 2021, Milburn went on a radio show where he expressed concern about school closures, vaccine passports, and the safety and efficacy of vaccines. A week later, Milburn was removed from his position as Chief of Emergency Medicine for Eastern Nova Scotia for “spreading vaccine hesitancy,” he said.
Milburn, who did get vaccinated for COVID-19, said he stands by his statements at the time that the vaccine was new and its side effects were unknown. “It’s just become more and more true over time.”
An Ontario Doctor’s Testimony
Dr. Patrick Phillips testified that Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) temporarily suspended his medical license on May 3, 2022, for “holding a medical opinion that is contrary to the public health directives.”
Phillips said that early on in the pandemic, he became concerned that public health measures were causing more harm to Canadians than the virus itself. Phillips said the pandemic switch from in-person medical care to phone-based care led to doctors “basically doing guesswork” on their patients, leading to a “devastation to both the physical-health and the mental-health patients.”
According to Phillips, initial concerns that hospitals would be overrun with COVID patients ended up being unfounded. “Our emergency rooms were empty and there was very little COVID in our communities. Nevertheless, because of the media, the people in our communities were still afraid to come in.”
When treating a 60-year-old woman suffering from COVID, Phillips prescribed her Ivermectin after having seen studies indicating the drug could reduce the virus’ mortality. He said the pharmacist reported him, and he was ordered to cancel that prescription.
Health Canada has said there is no evidence that Ivermectin, a prescription antiparasitic drug, works to prevent or treat COVID-19, and it is not authorized for this use.
When the COVID vaccines were rolled out in 2021, Phillips said he filled out a total of 10 Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Reporting forms but all except one were rejected. The only AEFI form that was accepted was for a woman experiencing a light rash post-vaccination.
Phillips testified that he also prescribed Ivermectin to a person he believed to be vaccine-injured. He said this improved her symptoms, but another pharmacist reported him and his license was temporarily restricted.
Phillips’s repeated prescribing of Ivermectin, handing out of vaccine and mask exemptions, and comments on social media eventually led to his license being suspended. The CPSO claimed that Phillips engaged in “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct” and that he failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession in relation to his communications around COVID-19 and related issues.
“As far as providing treatment with Ivermectin, providing exemptions to people who are being coerced against their will, … for reporting adverse events, and speaking out on social media to give people the other side of the story… I would totally do that again, even knowing I would lose my license,” Phillips said.