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Ford's Covid chaos


April 17, 2021
Doug Ford’s incompetence is killing people. His latest order, once again, misses the mark widely. Virtually every medical professional and epidemiologist in the province is saying the same thing: we need a shutdown of non essential business, paid sick days and targeted vaccinations of essential workers. 
 
Instead he has massively expanded police powers so that they can conduct random stops of anyone outside their house. If they don’t have a valid excuse - or one the police will accept - they are subject to a fine. This will, as always, be used most against BIPOC people and essential workers.
 
This new order will not halt the spread of the virus. It will not slow it down enough for the vaccine programs to outpace the new variants of the disease. 
 
Weeks ago, Ford was finally forced to shut down schools – which he insists are safe – but which the data suggests is a major driver of the disease. In the last week of March there were more than 1300 cases of Covid in schools. While his closure is good for public health, it left parents furious because he only gave them 24 hours to find a replacement for in-class learning. 
 
But the main sources of the virus in this third wave are among workers in essential businesses, and those remain open - with some limitations. There are more than 900 cases of Covid reported at the Mississauga Amazon sorting facility, yet he hasn’t closed these workplaces or, crucially, offered paid sick days for the workers. 
 
The numbers are clear. According to Toronto Public Health, 48 percent of Toronto’s cases have been people on low incomes, 77 percent of cases are among racialized people and 67 percent of workplace outbreaks have been in frontline settings like food processing and warehouses. According to the Toronto Star, “In Peel Region, manufacturing has seen 37 per cent of the region’s workplace outbreaks — the single largest share. Similarly, in Durham Region, the sector made up a third of all outbreaks since the pandemic began. Manufacturing also has the largest number of active workplace outbreaks declared this week in Toronto.”
 
Sick days would allow for people to take time off if they feel symptoms – but without them, people are still forced to go to work. A recent survey by the Service Employees International Union found that 64 percent of their members are worried about having to take time off to get vaccinated because of a loss of pay. 
 
Ford says, “if you are sick – stay home”, but then accuses anyone who suggests that this is impossible for low income workers of just ”playing politics”. 
 
And although Ford reinstated a moratorium on evictions in his last order, this will provide only partial temporary relief for those who lost jobs and are having trouble paying the rent. The last time he instituted an eviction freeze, the Landlord and Tenant tribunals continued to operate. They just didn’t have government enforcement of the evictions. All that did was result in a huge wave of evictions when the ban was lifted. It is estimated that more than 200,000 households in Ontario are currently behind in rent because of a loss of income from Covid. 
 
And the corporate landlords are making a killing during the pandemic. A high eviction rate is good for their business because it allows them to evict tenants and jack up rents at a higher rate than if the tenants stay in their units. Ford, a good friend of developers, has done all he can to make sure they rake in the profits. He has allowed for above-guideline rent increases for any landlord who can argue that they have invested capital in their buildings. This loophole will put more people on the streets. 
 
Ford put the blame on foreigners and ranted about closing the borders. But he will allow people transporting "goods" to cross. He will allow people who need to work to cross. He won't shut airports. In fact all the talk about foreigners is just talk, dog whistle politics not far removed from his idol, Donald Trump, designed to shift responsibility away from his own failed policies.
 
Ford also put the blame on the feds and repeated the claim that there are no vaccines. It is true that Trudeau's solution to shop his way out of pandemic is foundering, but multiple reports say that there are thousands of doses held in Ontario freezers. 
 
It is foreigners' fault; it is Trudeau's fault; it is your fault. And if anyone dares criticize Ford he whines that people are just being mean, and they should "Walk a mile in my shoes.” These are all attempts to distract from his failures in controlling the spread of the virus.
 
Once again, Ford is proving that he is more concerned about keeping the economy going than protecting people. He is sitting on billions in Covid relief funds given by the federal government but refuses to use that cash to help people stay home or avoid homelessness. 
 
The worst impacts of his callousness will be felt by racialized, low income people – mainly women. Their deaths are on Ford’s hands.
 
 
 
 
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