Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner April 29, 2021
“The cries of anguish were audible,” said one reporter standing among hospital staff, watching the press conference on April 16 with Premier Doug Ford.
“You won’t listen to the science,” wailed one nurse. (She used stronger language.)
Ford was announcing the closing of playgrounds and the empowering of police to stop people on the street, rather than the hoped-for and sensible policy of installing sick-day pay, and accepting federal help with the Red Cross.
“That was then worst press conference I have ever watched,” said national writer Paul Wells of MacLean’s magazine. Conservative commentators such as Don Martin were unanimous in their condemnation of these measures.
Stumbling, defensive, inarticulate, his folksiness having long worn off, the premier announced these mistaken changes in the wake of dire new realities for Ontarians: Increasing numbers of cases, long predicted, and extreme pressure on ICUs.
The one welcome outcome was, democrats take note, that we do not live in a police state. Almost all police departments across the province quickly rebuked this order to "stop and question" on no grounds. That included our own Chief Scott Gilbert in Peterborough. “We will not be stopping cars and people,” he said.
Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, in whose city are large numbers of racialized Canadians who work in warehouses, dealing with a massive amount of goods ordered online and being packed, sounded the alarm.” My hospital may be the first to fall,” he said.
Hospitals falling? It’s hard to imagine that in a country which has long prided itself on its health care system. But today we are seeing field units constructed in parking lots at Sunnybrook and the University Health Network.
Ontario’s inept leadership shows us a lot about the incompetence of the politicians we elected in 2015. Disconnected from the realities of low-wage people, often immigrants, in apartments, having to go to work sick and unable to take a day off without pay. One PC cabinet member was heard to say that the numbers of cases were allowed to rise because the regime wanted to see if the modelling figures had been correct. That is cynical disregard.
The desperately over-politicized has looked for short-term popularity rather than taking difficult life-saving steps. They have been skilled at one thing: ignoring weeks of expert advice. There is pathetic blame-shifting to the “feds,” even as we know that health delivery is a provincial matter, and vaccines are arriving in the quantities that have been promised for weeks.
My heroes in this sad debacle include Minister of Procurement Anita Anand of London, ON, a new cabinet minister with immense capability and a calm demeanour. Another cabinet minister who has delivered is Marc Miller of Indigenous Affairs. He has quietly overseen the success story of getting three-quarters of Indigenous people, many in remote locations, vaccinated.
We all know the success too of the Atlantic Bubble. Hurray for those premiers. Must be a bit sweet to find themselves in a position to offer help to big, rich Ontario. But no, Ford turns down the federal offer of Red Cross workers to take mobile clinics to workplaces to vaccinate. Yet Dr. Samir Sinha, an expert in senior care said, “I beg Ontario to accept this much-needed help.” If Ontario had said yes, we would have more nurses freed up from vaccinating to care for the sick.
Ford shows he is in well over his head.
This sad situation in our province has got the attention of the world.
Dr. Michael Walker is a physician I listen to. He has said medical personnel are “beyond anger, they are forlorn.” Dr. Brian Goldman, the well- known doctor on CBC, said today, “Pharmacists, listen up. Don’t waste a single dose of AZ vaccine. Explain the risks, get informed consent and give to under 55s.”
One hopes the shock of all of this will lead to increased citizen activism, and to enlightened political action fast.
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