Canada is climbing out of a pandemic-induced shutdown, but doctors are saying we'll need masks to stay there. A movement calling for stricter rules is growing in the province as other cities across Canada make mask-wearing a must. So, when all's said and done, will Alberta make masks mandatory?

"Now this is the time to act, and we know that. The slower we are on these things, the worse it gets," said Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency physician, clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary, and a member of the Masks4Canada movement to Narcity.

The movement, which started back in early May 2020, is a group of mostly doctors who want wearing masks to be mandatory across the nation.

In Alberta, they are not currently required to have on in public. Although the province "strongly" recommends all Albertans to "wear masks whenever physical distancing is not possible," said a government spokesperson to Narcity.

Vipond said this is not enough.

"There's really no evidence around strong recommendations getting that mask use up into that key 60 to 80% range. It's just not really happening and it's certainly not happening in Alberta," he said.

Although there is currently no solid data backing it, he continued, Vipond estimated that fewer than 25% of locals are wearing masks.

Potentially going back into lockdown is worse than having to wear masks, he said.

"We think that in using mandatory masks, we can decrease the chance that we go back into that mandatory lockdown, which of course has innumerable harms to individuals and society," said Vipond.

The province's cities and municipalities are allowed to make face coverings compulsory, "should they feel it's appropriate for their specific community," said a provincial rep.

Alberta also recently handed out 20 million non-medical masks around the province, with another 20 million coming this month.

Meanwhile, cities like Toronto have made it mandatory to wear masks indoors.

We can use what these cities have done in making our own guidelines, said Vipond.

"I would hope that we enact the order and then kind of figure it out as we go along rather than the reverse," he said.

A rule like this is a long time coming, he said. "I don't know if you've been counting, but we're six months into a pandemic."

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