In the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Premier Doug Ford showed a surprising ability to provide strong leadership under the most difficult of circumstances.
Unfortunately, that Doug Ford who relied on expert medical advice has crumbled away and been replaced by the panic-riddled, finger-pointing dullard we see today.
As Ontario teeters on the brink of a devastating crisis, Ford has demonstrated an appalling, irresponsible and terrifying inability to make the decisions that need to be made.
While there was a time when he was willing to put aside party politics for the greater good, Ford is now pointing the finger at everyday Ontarians and the federal government for the escalating crisis in this province.
Last Friday, I was stunned to hear Ford announce that police forces would be given the authority to randomly stop people and question them as to their reasons for not being at home.
It didn’t take long for departments around the province to announce they would not be using their newfound powers and fortunately that directive was walked back in short order, along with one which would have closed playgrounds.
Meanwhile, the latest announcement, which extends Ontario’s current lockdown to May 20, did absolutely nothing to protect those who have been hardest hit by this pandemic.
Despite the pleas of those on the medical front lines, sick pay and tougher measures to protect essential workers in the most hard-hit areas were conspicuously absent from the latest announcement and people will die as a direct result.
I can’t even imagine what a slap in the face this latest announcement must have been to those who continue to dip into their deepest physical, mental and spiritual reserves in hospitals which have been overwhelmed by a deluge we were warned was coming.
Despite Ford’s protestations to the contrary, this latest wave was predictable and is a direct consequence of the premature lifting of restrictions back in February.
Watching the latest announcement last week, I was reminded once again of the government’s complete inability to recognize there are actually two separate battles to be fought.
And, listening to reporters’ questions at the end made it abundantly clear that the battle in the Greater Toronto Area is the only one anybody is focused on.
Meanwhile, the rest of Ontario is forced to live with the same restrictions which could ultimately make our situation worse if people refuse to adhere to them.
This is not the beginning of the pandemic. We have learned a lot about how the virus transmits and where the real risks lie.
We know that outdoor gatherings are far and away the safest ones to have, but the government’s new mandate of absolutely no outdoor gatherings beyond one’s own household will push some people indoors.
Because people in Toronto swarm parks and shopping malls whenever they’re given the chance, all of Ontario suffers the consequences.
This is wrong and this is irresponsible.
We keep hearing the rationale that if other parts of the province have looser restrictions, people from outside the area will come here and to a certain extent that’s correct.
But, given how willing the government were to institute overly heavy-handed policing in Ontario, one would think that type of abuse could be managed.
As usual, the latest announcement is full of loopholes allowing people to skirt the new directives if they feel so inclined and let’s not forget we have a small but vocal bunch of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers whose actions continue to undermine all the good the rest of us have been doing.
Thankfully most of us don’t have to have a personal experience to understand that this virus – particularly with its new variants – is very real and very dangerous.
Frustratingly, there was no provision for people who have already been vaccinated. As of Monday, 3.9 million Ontarians had received at least their initial dose of the vaccine, but they’re not able to get together for a socially distanced outdoor visit either.
At this point, we have another month of the current lockdown and I know that most of us in Chatham-Kent will continue to do everything we’ve been asked to do, not because we necessarily agree with it, but because it’s our responsibility as citizens.
I’m sick of this situation. I’m sad that I barely remember what it was like not to be living this way. I’m angry at those who wilfully disobey the directives, putting others at risk. I’m depressed that once again our family can’t get together for the outdoor gatherings that have helped us get through this. I’m in anguish for those on the medical front lines who may be faced with making decisions on who lives or dies and whose strength is being sapped daily.
I’m wracked with guilt about those who aren’t as fortunate as we are, who live in multi-generational homes without backyards, who are toiling away for minimum wage to ensure that we have a supply chain and essential services we normally don’t even think about. I’m relieved that my kids are old enough that I don’t have to worry about their schooling – it was hard enough without a pandemic! And, I’m saddened to see the divisions and nastiness that play out daily on social media.
But, beyond that, I remain optimistic that we will get through this. I’m grateful to have had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and I’m heartened to see that the vast majority of Ontarians are ready, willing and able to be vaccinated as that is our way out of this.
As always, stay well and stay kind my friends.