Doug Ford’s COVID fail is costing lives

As hospitals fill up and Ontario's doctors call for a lockdown, the premier seems intent on playing chicken with the virus


While Ontario’s doctors are calling for a lockdown of the entire Greater Toronto and Hamilton area until after New Year’s to deal with the unnerving rise in new COVID cases, Doug Ford seems intent on playing chicken with the virus – and peoples’ lives.

His response to pleas from both the Ontario Medical Association and Ontario Hospital Association for a four-week lockdown at a press conference to announce more funding for long-term care on Thursday was thanks but no thanks.

“I appreciate their input,” the premier said, of the warning from hospital administrators that hospitals are reaching the “breaking point.” But “Right now, we’re going to continue consulting.”

He added when pushed by reporters that “everything is on the table” when it comes to dealing with the COVID crisis. “We always take advice from the medical experts.”

The only problem is that we’ve heard it all before and we’re running out of options. Another record 2,432 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario on Thursday.

More than 150,000 surgeries had to be cancelled during the first wave to manage the crisis. More surgeries may have to be cancelled to deal with COVID cases now taking over ICU beds.

It’s all very sad to think this all could have been avoided.

But nine months into the pandemic that has turned our world upside down, it’s becoming clearer that Ontario has effed up on a terribly grand scale.

Doug Ford never had a plan – at least, not a coherent one. Worse, when the going got tough, he put his political interests ahead of the province.

While he was the leader we needed in the early stages, when it came time to coordinate a response, Ford turned out to be over his head – or willfully negligent. The list of failures is a long one. He’s failed hospitals. Notwithstanding the latest cash infusion announced Thursday to hire more support staff, he’s failed long term care. He’s failed parents who’ve had to juggle work, daycare and home-schooling. He’s failed school kids.

And just as questions about his government’s handling of the pandemic have started to mount he’s cutting and running, announcing the shutting down of the Legislature until February.

Meanwhile, he’s still sitting on some $12 billion from the feds that could go a long way toward alleviating the suffering but is refusing to spend it.

There have been many opportunities for the Ford government to avoid the mess we’re in.

But instead of using his government’s budget to provide necessary supports – like sick pay for workers, for example – he spent the cash on tax breaks for business. And instead of reinstating the moratorium on evictions, the Landlord and Tenant Board is fast-tracking evictions. Meanwhile, people are being forced to live outside in tents and makeshift styrofoam shelters in downtown Toronto because the shelter system is overcrowded and unsafe.

Has Ford’s empathy play all been a ruse? It would seem so.

The recent auditor’s report described the province’s handling of the pandemic as “disorganized,” while listing a litany of other shortcomings. The report goes further to say that the province’s chief medical officer of health, David Williams, failed to act “decisively” to stem the tide.

To be sure, some of the province’s top epidemiologists and hospital administrators have been calling for the resignations of Williams and his deputy, Barbara Yaffe, over their management of the crisis, which has varyingly been described as everything from complacent to cavalier.

There was more evidence of that this week when Yaffe was inadvertently captured on a mic before a press conference at Queen’s Park remarking to Williams: “I don’t know why I bring so many papers. I never look at them. I just say whatever they write down for me.”

Yaffe explained in a statement to CTV News later that she was only referring to “research and vetted remarks” given to her by her communications staff.

But her remarks suggest that it’s been politics that’s been directing the province’s COVID response all along.

The veil has slowly been lifted on that fact, most notably after the province initially floated a 10 per cent test positivity as the threshold to enact meaningful COVID restrictions. Thankfully, they never followed through.

But there are many more examples that science hasn’t always been the guiding principle behind the province’s COVID strategy, beginning with the failure to acknowledge community transmission back in March; the failure to deal promptly with the long-term care crisis; the failure to lead on provincial mask mandates; and the failure to understand the importance of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

Now we’re all paying the price.

@enzodimatteo

Comments (3)

  • Andrew December 18, 2020 02:31 PM

    Since there is no reference point or direct comparison it is impossible to tell what the best path is or was. The only thing we can do is look to other jurisdictions that did better or worse and understand which actions correlated to their outcome. Underpinning all of this is what value do we place each person year of life extension. The math so far is going to bankrupt the living specifically since the total mortality in Ontario is trending to be lower that it was in 2019. In other words massive economic costs with no results.

    So complain as you must but just realize this empirical truth. During the recent 4 week GTA lockdown cases INCREASED. Lockdowns are no longer effective because they only work when a very small percent or the population is infected. We have clearly crossed the effectiveness threshold. 2.5 to 3% asymptomatic testing extrapolates to 400,000 people currently have an active virus exposure – they would test positive. This is our reality our thinking should be grounded here. I wish our Public Health Drs. had graduated at the top not the bottom of their classes because they might get this and adjust appropriately – yet they still think containment is the strategy.

    Further lockdowns meets Einstein’s definition of insanity. As do cloth masks that do nothing but virtue signal and offer a false sense of security. N95 and above now you are talking. Even Tam finally came out and said this.

    I don’t support Ford but I suspect for the opposite reasons. Frankly like all politicians he is just trying to thread the needle up the middle where the most people will like him.

  • Robert Burns December 19, 2020 11:38 PM

    Ford is an incompetent leader and should resign…we really need a recall system in Ontario as they have in other countries…unfortunately I think things are going to get a lot worse….check the article on how well Australia is doing with there 26 million people and just over 900 deaths and how well the lockdowns have worked https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/australia-covid-19-pandemic-lockdown-1.5813280

  • Michael L Hudecki December 21, 2020 03:19 AM

    I understand that this is an opinion piece, but it is an inane one insofar as it utterly fails to respond to (what has now become) the obvious objections to the propagandized narrative that the choice between having a lockdown or not is tantamount to the choice between saving lives and callously letting people die. Rather, it is a choice between facing the sad reality of death caused by a natural virus while taking every sensible precaution possible to avoid it, and, on the other hand, taking extreme, immoderate, and irreversibly damaging measures to deal with it: ones that unconscionably trammel the freedom and rights of individuals; that deny our children formative experiences in such a way that has led to a massive increase in suicides amongst teens; that have led to mass joblessness and a large uptick in deaths caused by drug-overdoses; that allow dreams and livelihoods to go up in flames by telling small business owners they can’t open their doors to customers, even if they take every precaution in the world, and finally, that bid farewell to a flourishing Canadian future by the massive debt that Canada continues to incur.

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