Opinion: Follow Mike Holmes’ homebuilding advice when deciding on COVID strategies — Make it Right

Famed homebuilding contractor and TV personality Mike Holmes has a philosophy: Make it Right.

At the heart of this philosophy is a commitment to build homes the right way, not just to meet the bare minimum building code requirements. Building codes are there to set a floor for safety, not a ceiling. Holmes’ Make It Right philosophy insists that homeowners should work with their contractor to build to higher standards to ensure they get a home that is truly safe and high quality for the long term.

So it should be with our public health orders. They set a minimum standard. Saskatchewan residents can and should build a strategy that provides maximum health and safety protection for themselves and the family and friends around them. That means limiting your bubble to your household, staying home and working from home whenever you can, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands regularly and getting a vaccine when it’s your turn.

The other parallel with home building is the need to learn and adapt. Building codes are updated periodically to reflect the latest evidence on safety. These changes are often sparked by a sad or unfortunate incident, like a house fire that points to needed changes in building materials or uses.

Similarly, the evidence and science around COVID continues to evolve. Like a fire that sparks a building code change, we cannot look at what’s happening in Regina and surrounding area with the fast spread of COVID variants of concern and pretend it can only happen there.

All of us around Saskatchewan must strengthen our own strategies as a result. The variant circulating in Saskatchewan transmits faster and puts more people in hospital than the regular strain of COVID. It tells us that our household COVID bubble should probably be a COVID fortress.

In February 2019, Holmes was quoted in a CBC news article in the aftermath of a fire in Halifax that took the lives of seven people and pointed to potential changes required in the national building code: “We tend to not pay attention to things until there is a catastrophe,” he said. “This should be a wake-up call that we need to take things more seriously.”

The continuing momentum of our COVID immunization program brings us hope that we will not always have to build a fortress to protect ourselves. But until then, we need to use the escalating situation in Regina and area as our own wakeup call. When building your bubble and creating your strategy for fighting COVID, follow Mike Holmes’ philosophy and Make it Right.

Dr. John Froh is an emergency, trauma and transport physician who practices in Saskatoon where he lives with his family. He is also a pandemic physician lead in the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre.

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