For many of us in Ontario, yesterday was a very intense day. Or at least the evening after 4 pm EST was. The counterproductive moves announced by the Ford Government last evening unleashed a wave of anger and frustration that had been building for months. I can honestly say that I have never seen or experienced anything quite like it and it spoke to how people are feeling right now.
Personally, it made me furious, and that anger didn’t go away when I woke up the morning, mostly because I was still processing what had happened the night before. So, because of how I was feeling, I put down the social media for most of the day to try to reset, to do a little self-care. A bit of time with the family helped and when I came back online, this piece of news was fluttering around Twitter:
Yep, after over 30 police departments in Ontario told the Ford Government they weren’t onside with their plan to literally police this pandemic, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones issued a “clarification” of yesterdays announcement. To my eye this clarification really didn’t change anything because it only applies to parks. Also, under that policy change announced yesterday, didn’t the police need to have “reason to suspect” people anyway? This doesn’t seem like much of a difference at all. It should also be noted that clarification doesn’t include any new measures to actually help fight this pandemic, like bringing in proper sick days. I guess those got lost somewhere in transit, right?
Anywho, after the day that we saw yesterday and after I saw that announcement, my eyes and ears came across important words from the people we aren’t listening to enough. Or in the case of the Ford Government, not listening to at all. There are front line medical professionals across the province who are facing down COVID-19 every day and seeing the full impact of the Ford Governments policies. So tonight I wanted to share more of their words, because for as much as pandemic hurts us all, these are the voices we should be listening to right now. Let’s start with Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of Ontario’s science table:
The end of that clip had me quivering, mostly because you can just imagine the Hell this man is seeing daily. Most people who I know who have gone into the medical field do so out of the desire to serve their communities, they do it for the people and to make things better. That means pouring all of yourself into the care of your patients. So, when you see your professional advice being ignored time and again, I can see how you’d eventually break down into tears when you’re seeing the worst outcomes happen. With those feelings in mind, the next voice I’m going to post here is of Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician in Toronto. Here is part of a Twitter thread he posted this morning that speaks right to this:
We’re all feeling that demoralization as we watch this disaster roll out in front of us in real time, but at least for most of us, we can get away from it. Most of us aren’t surrounded by it day in and day out. “Demoralizing” might be the best word for this moment because, as Dr. Dosani points out, this was all preventable. People are getting sick and dying who didn’t need to be, period. We know that because that is what the experts are telling us and our governments. Yet it’s still happening. If you want a good example of what this looks like, listen to this clip from Dr. Michael Warner of Toronto, who this afternoon told us the story of one of his most recent COVID patients:
The patient, who is on life support, got COVID from her husband, who got it himself from an outbreak at his place of work. Both of their children have also caught COVID. The husband doesn’t have the option of taking a day off of work to get tested, vaccinated or even to avoid work if he wasn’t feeling well. He, like too many out there, doesn’t have sick days. He had to make the choice between earning money to pay the rent or staying healthy. Of course, because he had no sick days, he really didn’t have a choice, so off to work he went. As a result, this family has been torn apart and, as Dr. Warner puts it, if the government had “implemented policies consistent with the science”, even if that didn’t fit this governments ideology. The last video I’m going to share tonight is of Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician with the University Health Network in Toronto. Some saw her on CBC earlier yesterday in video that went viral, but I want to share this piece she later did with CTV that really drives everything home for me:
She laid out so well what this government should be doing right now, while pointing out what Premier Ford delivered was not what the Science Table asked for. She laid out the science of what is happening with COVID right now, things that this government seems to be ignoring. But she closed the appearance with something that I don’t think is getting said enough lately. Yes, we must be concerned for the economy and for those that are losing their businesses and livelihoods, but people who are dead cannot help with that. Just as I’ve pointed out when speaking out against anti-vaxers and anti-maskers, “rights are for the living and if you don’t survive, yours don’t matter when you’re dead”. Dr. Barrett correctly points out that we need to focus on saving lives right now and that people who die now are gone forever. They can’t help rebuild the economy from beyond the grave.
Right now the focus of this government must be on saving lives, taking all measures they need to do that and offer every piece of assistance they can to allow businesses to make it to the other side. Premier Ford incorrectly suggested that his government had done everything it could, which these doctors made pretty clear that isn’t the case. That unwillingness to do what is needed and instead preferring to try to BS and spin us, as if we can’t see what’s happening with our own eyes, is demoralizing. It’s sapping whatever confidence people had in this government, and for those who are risking their lives in hospitals across the country, it’s bringing them to tears. The word “failure” doesn’t go far enough to describe what we’re seeing right now, but I continue to hope (maybe beyond hope) that Premier Ford and his government will stop ignoring these voices. These are the voices he needs to listen to because if he won’t now in this darkest hour of need, I cringe at the thought of what Hell we’ll have to arrive at before he finally does.