There have been many things about the last few weeks in our COVID-19 world have been difficult. We’re seeing cases rise across the country, we’re starting to see some schools close because of COVID cases, we’re seeing insanely long lines at COVID testing centres and that’s just for starters. It hasn’t been smooth for sure and has left many in Ontario specifically wonder what exactly the plan is to fight this disease. It’s not something that Premier Doug Ford has been willing to share so it was noteworthy that today CBC reported the following:
Yep folks, that’s the plan. The CBC report on the draft of this plan quotes a communications spokesperson for the Premier saying the plan “has since evolved considerably” and the draft that CBC is reporting on “should not be considered complete.” Hmmm, some might say that about the plan itself. But when someone else puts it better, I leave it to them to say it. With that in mind, here is what Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star said on this, which sums up my thoughts:
Yeah, that really sums up a lot of what I’ve been sensing, feeling and the further we’ve gotten into this, assumed. That’s not much of a plan at all, or at least it’s more of a plan to avoid doing what’s needed. To read that draft, it feels that the Ford Conservatives are more concerned about trying to avoid another shut down rather than actually spending the money or taking the measures that would actually assure we didn’t need that shut down. What has that gotten us so far? Well here is a projection that CBC News showed last night before the post Throne Speech speeches last night:
Yes folks, that’s scary. We’ve been told to expect a resurgence in the Fall but without a solid plan in place and all options truly on the table, we could safely assume that those projections could be worse. Look at how bad that is if we simply maintain what we’re already doing and it’s clear that we may very well need to do more, which seems to be precisely to be what Ford’s draft plan that he refused to release tries to avoid. That surely isn’t ensuring that folks have a lot of confidence in what’s happening. Another sign of that growing sense came into my email box yesterday from a source I honestly wasn’t expecting; the Ontario College of Teachers:
That folks, is the Ontario College of Teachers basically pleading with people who hold qualifications or could get their lapsed certification re-instated to do so. It’s a message the likes of which I’ve never received in my 18 years as being a member in good standing of the college. It says that “Ontario is currently experiencing a shortage of certified teachers, which has only been magnified by smaller class sizes during the pandemic to improve physical distancing and reduce the risks of spreading the COVID-19 virus.” In short, they are asking teachers who aren’t in the classroom for whatever reason (either who let their certification lapse, retired or decided to do other things professionally) to step forward to go back into schools.
While I appreciate the sense of civic duty that the college is pointing to here, I’m blown away at the fact that this email came along and that it arrived on September 23rd of all days. The Ford Conservatives have done everything under the sun to try to avoid making smaller class sizes to ensure that schools were their safest for the return. We’ve even seen teachers gets laid off in some boards because of the drop of in-person schooling and families opting for online options. We’ve seen schools collapse smaller classes into massive classes with large numbers of students, while other classrooms in the same building stay empty. We’ve seen bus routes cancelled because of a lack of drivers and yes, we’ve started to see a shortage of teachers. We’ve seen some boards struggle to find needed staff and this is true of supply teaching pools, which are largely made up of retired teachers.
Let me be clear, I’m not surprised that there is a shortage of teachers. This is something that clearly was going to be a problem, especially as teachers started to either get sick or have to self-isolate because of COVID exposures for either themselves or their families. Given the rules about what must happen before those teachers could return to the class (either a negative COVID test or 14 days of self-isolation with no symptoms), you could easily foresee that there would be strains on the supply of certified teachers. That was something you could have foreseen back in the summer, months ago and then the government could have actually done something about it.
Yet that’s not what happened here. It’s been quite the opposite, as the Ford Conservative government has done everything in its power to avoid making those tough decisions, which that draft plan exposes. And that email from the College of Teachers, that is the result. Instead of having gotten these teaching resources in place months ago, when we assumed, they were planning for this, they ducked and didn’t do their part. Now we’re seeing the results, as COVID cases start to spike and the projections portend for even worse.
When I was young, I was always told that “a failure to plan is a plan to fail”. Even if the best plans created can’t ensure a perfect response or no mistakes along the way, those plans to help ensure that many things go right. They ensure that potential problems, like a shortfall of COVID testing caused by demand or an unusual need for more certified teachers, would be thought through with contingencies put in place to respond to them if they arose. What’s maybe most important, in a time when people are worried, scared and need reassurance from their government, a real, solid plan could offer that comfort and go a long way to helping the overall response. Yet instead we’ve got none of that in Ontario; no real plan, testing and teacher shortages, no reassurance as things start to get worse. Doug Ford’s failures in planning have resulted in failure, and that lays on his shoulders. I continue to hold out hope that the Ford Conservatives get this right because despite partisan differences, that’s exactly what we need. As someone on the opposite side of the political fence from Mr. Ford, I truly gain nothing by seeing him fail because his failure right now means pain and worse for so many. I sincerely hope that they take this chance to plan to succeed by actually planning because if he does the success isn’t his, it’s all of ours. I hope he gets that because, as much as it brings me no joy to point out now, there is more depending on this than his political beliefs. It’s never too late to do the right thing so here’s to hoping he does here.