Oct. 20, 2022

The Air We Breathe: Recommendations to make indoor air safer in the COVID era



The unmitigated, seasonal, and repeated spread of COVID-19 is forecasting disaster as a mass disabling event. Not only does it represent the ableist exclusion of immunocompromised Canadians, many of whom will have become so as a result of the pandemic itself, it also suggests a continuous hemorrhaging of workers through chronic illness in already tight labour pools. Research shows that structural answers can help mitigate some of the risk, and get us closer to achieving a Canada that’s accessible to all: We have to fix the air we breathe. 

The Air We Breathe examines the tensions and contradictions between Canada’s commitment to an accessible country and the compromises that an ableist economic policy and pandemic policy will make. It provides recommendations for governments and employers to improve indoor air quality that could help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, which is an airborne virus. Just as “living with cholera” meant education campaigns and infrastructural changes, so too must we do the same for COVID-19. 

The Air we Breathe: Recommendations to make indoor air safer in the COVID era


"Something like cholera is a non-issue for us because we have the infrastructural changes, like plumbing and hand-washing, to render it moot. For me, the most important part of this report is to explain that we have had no such changes when it comes to supposedly 'living with COVID.' For people who aren't sure why we need to act, I try to explain the data in the easiest language I can and its importance for a just Canada inclusive of disabled people. 
For those who already know they want to act, I provide suggestions both for their organizations as well as their governments. But the data are clear: Calling the pandemic over because we're tired of dealing with it has dealt astronomical damage and is very likely to continue doing so. We can't gamble away our future on the possibility that we might get a silver-bullet vaccine to bail us out. We know what can work, right now, and we need to do it."

–Eleanor Hamilton, author