March to Unmask rallies decrying mandatory mask policies take place in Regina, Saskatoon

Protesters gathered in front of the legislature building in Regina and city hall in Saskatoon, decrying mandatory mask laws.

Mandatory mask laws coming into place in other jurisdictions in Canada

Protesters gathered in front of the legislature building in Regina, decrying mandatory mask policies, which are gaining momentum in municipalities across Canada. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Protestors decrying mandatory mask laws gathered in Regina and Saskatoon on Sunday.

Similar gatherings were hosted in cities across Canada on Sunday. Facebook event pages for the events in Saskatchewan cited the City of Toronto's recent council vote in favour of making masks mandatory indoors.

"We will not allow this to become the new normal in our communities," the March to Unmask: Regina page said of mandatory mask laws. The post also questioned the efficacy of masks.

However, experts have countered claims by anti-mask groups.

"As a medical professional, we wear masks in our day-to-day practice and it has not caused doctors or nurses or surgeons any harm," Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a family physician in Burlington, Ont., told CBC News.

The real risk, said Kwan, is wearing your mask incorrectly, including sharing it with others, reusing non-reusable masks, or not cleaning cloth masks properly.

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, added that she has not "seen any medical or scientific evidence that shows that wearing a mask depletes your body of oxygen.

Nor do they let any harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, build up, she said.

Some participants of the March to Unmask rally in Regina attended with their children. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones, when physical distancing — keeping a distance of two metres from other people — isn't possible to do consistently. Such places include stores, shopping areas and public transportation.

Those who attended the rally in Regina noted they weren't against wearing masks — they just want to do so on their own terms if they choose. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

A recent Angus Reid survey showed 55 per cent of Saskatchewan residents supported a mandatory mask policy. 

Despite a majority of people in favour of that kind of policy in the province, the 45 per cent against mandatory mask policies represents the highest total in Canada 

Those who attended Regina's rally decided to cancel their planned march to the CBC Saskatchewan offices, but gathered outside the legislature so their voices could be heard. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

In Regina, between 20 and 30 people gathered in front of the legislature building. 

Those in attendance weren't protesting people wearing masks — they said they wanted the chance to choose whether or not they wear a mask rather than have that decision made for them by the government. 

In Saskatoon, a group of about 20 people marched from city hall to the CBC Saskatoon offices, protesting the same issue. 

About 20 people concluded the March to Unmask: Saskatoon rally outside the CBC Saskatoon offices on Sunday. (Kelly Provost/CBC)

Other municipalities in Canada have voted in favour of mandatory mask policies, be it for transportation systems or in crowded areas, although the government of Ontario recently declared mandatory mask policies wouldn't be necessary.

In April, Transport Canada made it mandatory for air travellers to wear masks.

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses also recently called on the province to introduce a mandatory mask policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

With files from CBC News, Emily Chung and Laura Sciarpelletti