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Ontario government COVID incompetence in their own words.

Doug Ford and Charles McVety - spot the bigot
Left JAB by John Bell

December 20, 2020

On December 14, just before their press conference, Dr. Barbara Yaffe (Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health)  and Dr. David Williams (Chief Medical Officer of Health) had this conversation. They were not aware the microphones were on….

Yaffe: I don’t know why I bring all these papers. I never look at them.

Williams: Whenever they give me numbers I do, oh, oh, oh.

Yaffe: (Laughs) I just say whatever they write down for me. (Laughs again)

Williams: That’s good casting.

It is all reminiscent of the vintage cough medicine commercial: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”

But this is no joke. These are the public health experts who are supposed to be leading the government’s response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Their candid exchange reveals that the opposite is taking place. Tory politicians and big business lobbyists are dictating public health policy, such as it is.

As a result, 4,112 Ontarians have died from COVID, 31 of them on the day of writing. In the past month the average daily death toll has more than doubled. Thousands more will die before we get a whiff of the vaunted vaccines.

Only one question remains: is the chaos in Ontario a reflection of government incompetence, or is it a deliberate policy.

Over 10 months into the public health crisis, Ontario is a hopeless confusion of mixed messages and half measures. “Hot spots” like Toronto and surrounding districts are supposed to be in lockdown, yet mall parking lots are full, big box stores are booming, and only small neighbourhood businesses suffer.

The current "lockdown" in Toronto is a fraud, a PR stunt to cover Doug Ford's ass. Three times a week I have to take Wheel-Trans to TGH for life sustaining dialysis. I get to gauge traffic on the same street, at the same time of day. I pay attention.

During the first lockdown in April, the TTC van could shoot down Gerrard with almost no traffic. From my Leslieville home the trip took 15 minutes - 10 minutes if we caught all the lights. Passing the Gerrard Mall, the parking lot was almost empty and there was a controlled line-up for shoppers entering the essential No-Frills grocery. The rest of the mall was shut. 

Now the same trip takes 20 to 25 minutes. The mall parking lot is full morning and evening. Almost every business in the mall has been deemed "essential", including the news-stand and lottery kiosk. I can get that essential bubble tea as take-away.

So Ontario is open for business, sort of, in some districts. And if stores are shut down in your region, just hop in your car and drive to an adjacent area and do your business there.

Meanwhile, DoFo & Co have been desperate to keep schools open. This has been a disaster. Children, even if they are least at risk of death, are the top spreaders of disease. At least 9 Toronto District School Board schools are shuttered because of large outbreaks. The TDSB’s website reports (as of writing) that 451 children and 98 staff currently test positive for COVID – most of them in schools that remain open. More than 800 cases are reported “resolved”. 

Ford and his dissembling weasel of an education minister, Stephen Lecce are ideologically committed to destroying public education, starting by busting teachers’ unions. COVID-19 has been a boon for them, allowing them to plow ahead with on-line classes. They have used pandemic emergency legislation to eliminate seniority in education hiring and promotion, bringing in language about “merit” that allows bosses to advance the subservient and demote the most experienced.

(For a glimpse into the chaos Ford and Lecce have unleashed on schools, read this report from an Education Assistant.)

As the crisis-riven education system stumbles to the Christmas break, no one knows when, if at all, in-class learning will resume in 2021. They will continue to chirp about keeping kids safe, but that simply cannot be done.

The government is desperate to keep schools open because they are committed to keeping big businesses and factories open and working. That means freeing workers from the chore of child care during the day. There is no secret here. For Tories education means either indoctrinating kids with work discipline and the narrow skill set demanded by employers, or warehousing them until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Teaching kids to think, analyse, create, imagine, socialize, empathize? What are you, some kind of Cultural Marxist?

So when it comes to public health and education, all Ford can do is fall back on his mantra: “Everything is on the table.”

But when it comes to hoarding the $12 billion federal money earmarked for COVID relief, the government is very efficient.

When it comes to using emergency powers to destroy environmental protections and Conservation Authorities, and handing the precious Greenbelt watershed over to speculators and developers, the government is very efficient.

When it comes to shoring up support from the far-right, by rewarding vile Islamophobe and anti-gay bigot Charles McVety by turning his Christian College into a recognized university receiving public money, the government is very efficient.

And when it comes to passing legislation making it all but impossible to hold the directors of for-profit Long Term Care businesses liable for their criminally shoddy labour and safety practices, the government is very efficient.

It is only when it comes to actually caring for human beings that Ford throws up his hands, says everything is possible but nothing is done. We have to hope for the best. The vaccine is coming, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe it is that is a freight train hurtling toward us?

So that is the Ford plan: speak platitudes, be folksy, look helpless, do nothing to upset business, hoard money meant to assist workers, use the emergency as distraction while passing as much regressive legislation as possible. In the end, even if it takes the better part of a year, the vaccine will bail him out. And if thousands more of our family, friends, co-workers and neighbours die … there are still plenty of us to go around.





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