As Premier Doug Ford promised, Ontarians fell out of their chairs during the last Coronavirus press conference. However, it wasn’t because of the dire, long-delayed COVID-19 infection numbers. It was because of Queen’s Park’s utter failure to protect their constituents’ health.
At the Jan. 12 press conference, Ford doubled down on the current lockdown, with a stay-at-home order, demanding Ontarians stay home even harder than they already are. However, this order and the lockdown that proceeded it are far too little, far too late.
These orders should have begun when cases began to rise in the fall, as numerous health officials encouraged. Instead of pursuing any action at all, Ford sat on his hands and allowed cases to rise.
Instead of preventing the mass movement of people during Thanksgiving, Ford again did nothing.
Cases, predictably, continued to grow in the following weeks.
No action was taken until days before Christmas, with an announcement the province would lock down on Dec. 26, after people travelled to celebrate their holidays, rushing to malls and big box stores for their holiday shopping.
In fact, the advanced announcement seemed designed to encourage people to rush out and prepare for the lockdown.
Meanwhile, Ford could not control his own cabinet’s movements. While the provincial government planned and executed this lockdown, their own Finance Minister abandoned his post to fly to St. Bart’s.
So many Ontarians have contracted the virus doctors are running drills to decide who will get an intensive care bed because they won’t have enough to go around. The province’s projections show our healthcare system will be overwhelmed by February.
Ford decided it was the perfect time to add redundant health measures. Ontarians still can’t go out. Most businesses remain closed to in-store shopping, but still allow curbside pickup.
The largest chains, such as Wal-Mart and Loblaws, remain open to keep draining every dime from our communities. This allows next to no income to be spent on small, local businesses. These businesses, abandoned by the Ford government, give back the most to our province’s economy.
Ford continues to fail the provinces by allowing any additional paid sick days to this province’s working people. This neglect forces the very people the government deemed essential, into the vulnerable position of not being able to take time off.
These essential employees are then forced to go to work sick or risk losing their job, or the income needed to survive. This only adds to the spread of COVID-19 compounding Ford’s failure.
There is no excuse for this inaction.
Ontario has been through this before in the spring. One could even give Queen’s Park the benefit of the doubt then. This virus was still new back in March; how it spread, and how infectious it is was unknown.
However, this time our leaders should have known the dangers posed. They should have known government intervention was necessary to save lives. Doug Ford took the traditional Conservative position and chose corporate profit over human lives.
Given Ford’s overwhelming majority in Queen’s Park, Ontario will have to live with this incompetence for another 18 months.
In 2022, Ontarians voters must remember this staggering failure and hold Ford to account for the lives he squandered and the blood on his hands.