During the first wave of COVID-19, premier Doug Ford’s quick pivot to preventative measures and trust in science saved lives, but with the second wave of the pandemic approaching, we need Doug Ford to get back to measures that worked. Since June, Ford has changed his tone.
In June, when individual communities were debating the effectiveness of making masks mandatory, Ford was hesitant to make any sweeping decisions for Ontario.
“You just can’t enforce it,” said Ford in a June 26 press conference. “You go up in the rural areas, way up north, there’s no cases. As much as we can tell them to wear a mask, they aren’t wearing a mask.”
But you can, and the individual counties and businesses —including rural Ontario — had all but made Ford’s decision for him by mid-July as they moved to mandatory masks.
This was a stark contrast from the start of the pandemic when Ford was quick to lock down the province but major issues from April are still left unaddressed as we enter the second wave.
Remember long-term care facilities? In June, the Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care sent a letter to Ford informing him of several issues, such as staffing shortages and infection control. Nothing has been done since.
The Ontario government had months to figure out a back-to-school plan that worked to keep teachers and students safe, but they rolled out a program so filled with holes and weaknesses, it was met with disapproval from almost everyone affected by it.
To Ford’s credit, he’s been a consistent advocate for testing as many people as possible, and the Ontario government has gone from less than 10,000 tests per day to over 40,000 recently. With people being turned away at testing sites and lines around the block, even that falls short.
Even on the little things, Ford has pushed responsibility on to other people to make decisions. The Blue Jays’ plan for playing in Toronto would have had planes full of baseball players flying in and out of Toronto. Ford approved that plan and it was the federal government who stepped in and said enough.
It’s tough being a premier in Canada at any time, especially during a pandemic. In a world where people want to get over the pandemic quickly, you’ll never make everyone happy but it’s Ford’s job to keep everyone safe.
Ford needs to start taking the kind of preventative measures that got us out of the first wave. With daily case totals reaching 700 as of Sept. 28, beating the highest reported number of 640 in late April, Ford’s passive decision making has led us to this point.
Good or bad, wherever Ontario goes from here will be squarely on Doug Ford’s shoulders.