Vaccination lag largest sin in Ontario’s COVID-19 (mis)management

It didn’t have to be this way.

The provincial government was doing all the right things last spring in the face of the worst global public health crisis in a century and it seemed as though Premier Doug Ford grasped the severity of it all. He was making the tough but necessary choices to keep the public safe from COVID-19. Staying on message. Calling out those ‘yahoos’ who selfishly put personal freedoms over the good of society.

Even some of Ford’s most ardent critics were quick with credit during the early and middle portion of the coronavirus curse.

By mid-summer and a second wave forecasted, at least the inital curve was flattened and Ontarians were taking heart we were all in this together. Politically, after a rough patch, it even seemed as though the Conservatives might be able to pivot in the minds of the electorate. Proper management of COVID-19’s end game was going to be the magic exiler that could curry much favour with voters in 2022. Potentially saving the lives of millions of voters tends to accomplish such feats.

But the last four months have cost some Ontarians their lives and will quite likely cost Ford a second term as Premier. While the number of COVID-19 cases were low mid-summer, this government should have been doing more preparation to address issues and develop mitigation strategies in two communal co-habitation settings where the insidious virus takes root and lingers: Long Term Care homes and the public school system.

The province already had all the morbid data it needed from the first wave of COVID-19 with regards to the multitude of issues in nursing homes.

When the pandemic is pored over in hindsight, this government’s inability to protect the most vulnerable and its overall mismanagement of a system that’s been crumbling since the days when Order of Ontario winner Mike Harris reduced public oversight and relaxed regulations will be a very tough read. The data on schools might have been a little less clear but the province’s return to the classroom strategy was already being decried by medical experts even before classes resumed in September. Sick Kids medical professionals stressed no more than 12-15 students would be able to safely attend classrooms and maintain appropriate physical distancing.

A few local positive cases aside, thankfully most of our children have remained COVID negative. Outbreaks have, by hook or by crook, been thwarted and stopped at the school gate. The same can’t be said in urban areas of Ontario and is more than equally true for LTC’s. The inability for the province to develop better mitigation strategies in the run up to the second wave is damning and it all lands at Premier Ford’s feet.

But the cardinal sin in all of this has been the inability for the province to properly ramp up a rapid vaccination program, especially when there’s been months to prepare such a strategy, and it is unforgiveable. At the time of this writing, around 50,000 doses have been administered, one of the lower per-capita rates amongst developed jurisdictions in the world.

Perhaps the federal government wears a portion of the blame but the fact doses remained in refrigerators over the holidays and were not speedily injected into the arms of every doctor, nurse, hospital staff member and LTC PSW possible is unacceptable.The provincial government had months to collaborate a plan with Ontario’s 34 Public Health Units who are the experts in immunization and vaccination and their inability to get out of their own way and manage the end game properly will be their legacy.

It didn’t have to be this way.

-Jason Parks

PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY

IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT – Bev Humphrey of the Picton Recreation Committee presents Mike Hanson and Diane Austin of Maitland St. with a Picton-area business gift certificate in honour of winning first price in the PRC’s 2020 Holiday Home Decorating contest. The former annual event was revived as a result of COVID-19. For more winners, please visit www.pictongazette.ca . (Submitted Photo)