It amazes me how sometimes a few little pieces of information that could seem completely unrelated can help to tie a story together. It was just yesterday here at this blog that I was writing about the dissonant decisions taken by the Ford Conservatives in Ontario regarding their response to COVID-19 and the mixed messages they were sending as a result. In closing strip clubs one day, just to open the casinos on the next business day, Premier Doug Ford and crew were sending a mixed message for sure that frankly seemed to make no sense.
All of that came at the same time that Ontario had its highest single day number of new COVID cases, with 700 new diagnoses. It’s all be part of a worrying trend, just as we start to head into a second wave that Ford himself was warning would be dangerous and worse than the first, all without adding any details while doing so. That makes what came out later last night all the more infuriating, news that not only makes one wonder what in the Hell this government is doing but raises serious questions about where their priorities lay:
Let’s be clear how insane this all is; Monday Ontario sets a new record for new COVID cases, for over a week folks in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario have been fighting long lines just to get tested and as a result that lack of testing capacity has been putting serious pressure on other systems. Kids and teachers are missing school and work, parents are getting stuck at home and businesses are missing their employees. All of this because of the lack of testing capacity to meet the actual needs out there.
When faced with a situation like that, you’d think that the solution and priority would be really straightforward; increase testing capacity. The problem is that there isn’t enough testing, so the solution is to get more. Therefore the priority would be to do whatever you could to make that happen. But nah, that’s not what Doug Ford and his government decided to do. Nope, they decided to take a different path. They decided that instead of actually increasing testing capacity that they would reduce testing in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario as cases and demand spike, as the Ottawa Citizen reported last night. According to the memo from the province that the Citizen obtained a copy of, they were doing this because “provincial labs can’t keep up”.
Again, the problem is that the labs need more capacity and the solution should naturally be to give them that capacity. That would obviously cost money, money which the Ford Conservatives are loathed to spend despite the impacts on public health, the school system and workplaces across the region. Nope, their “solution” was instead of fixing the problem with the lack of capacity to process test was to simply reduce the number of tests. It’s an approach straight out of the bloody Donald Trump playbook of COVID-19 denialism, which should upset many Ontarians. But if that wasn’t enough to send people over the top, Premier Ford’s Twitter account just added a cherry onto of this crap sundae that spoke about where his true priorities lie:
You have got to be kidding me. We’re short on COVID-19 testing in Eastern Ontario in the middle of a global pandemic. So many communities across the provinces in rural and Northern communities don’t have high speed internet or decent cell service either, something that this COVID crisis has proved to be a huge problem, especially when schools and businesses start to close because the province couldn’t get its act together on testing and refused to spend the money needed to make it happen. But sure, go ahead in the middle of this public health and economic emergency and spend money on giving the dwindling number of GO passengers strictly in the GTA free internet on their fancy trains and busses. Obviously they need to have free internet access so they don’t use all their high speed data plans as they get a cushy ride to work much more than people in the East need to get COVID tests, or people in the North need basic high speed internet access.
The idea that the Ford team put that out there in the hours after all of this would be so awfully funny if it weren’t so terribly serious. This government seems to have no problem finding money for crap like free internet for the a reduced number of commuters (you know, reduced because COVID has moved so many of those commuters to work from home) yet can’t dare to bring itself to properly fund their COVID response, which is leading to bigger problems across the province than the apparent “crisis” they see with the lack of free internet on GO trains.
When you add the fact that the Ford team spent their weekend quickly re-nominating all of their caucus for an election that’s supposed to be two and a half years away, it tells you where their priorities are. They are acting more and more like a government that wants to take the Trump approach to COVID and act like this is all going away, despite the fact that the evidence shows us quite the opposite. This government has taken their foot clearly off the peddle when it comes to actually combatting this serious pandemic and decided it’s time to return to giving out cute bobbles to key voting blocks rather than dealing with the meat and potatoes of this moment. Seriously, this has to stop.
The stakes are too high and at this point, the Ford Conservatives are starting to really screw this up. Premier Ford had showed for five months that he was capable of going better than this and then magically he has reverted to that Premier we saw before who was incapable and unwilling to deal with a crisis like this. We know that he can do better because he showed us that from mid-March through August. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again; we gain nothing by seeing this Premier and his government fail. I’m not a fan of Doug Ford, his government or his party, but I don’t want to see him fail in response to this pandemic. The stakes are too high, the potential costs to life and well being are too important and the needs are too serious to wish him failure. If he succeeds in response to this, we succeed in this moment. Right now he’s not, and that worries me. I pray that Premier Ford and his team get their act together and fast because if they continue to show that their priorities are free commuter Wi-Fi and an early election, we’ll all fail. And that’s a failure that our families and communities cannot afford now or ever.