Editorial – Government responsible too

Last week’s editorial said that people have to do better and that there is personal responsibility that we all must bear for adhering to public health guidelines while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has their part to do, and that extends to the federal and provincial governments too. Just as some have ignored or fallen short of their personal responsibilities, so too have these governments and their leaders.

The pandemic has been in Canada for nearly a year, and for about the same amount of time the “game changer” of rapid testing has been around the corner. It has never quite arrived here, but is successful in many other G-7 countries like Germany. Relying on vaccine production in other countries has exposed how years of cuts by multiple governments have left Canada, once a leader in science and technology, in the middle of the line. Support programs like the CERB supported Canadians in the first wave of the pandemic. Now there is hesitancy by some to access programs in this second wave because of potential claw-back issues with the Canada Revenue Agency.

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his government does well when there is a need to triage a critical situation, it falls down when it comes to short and long-term planning. Ontario built an “iron ring” around Long-Term Care Homes in the first wave in an attempt to protect Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens. Just a week ago, as the Stay-at-Home order was issued, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that we had to “rebuild the iron ring”. What happened to that ring?

Last week, members of the province’s science table were asked if the Stay-at-Home order should also include income supports from the province so people who are sick don’t go to work. That recommendation was made to the government. Ford passed the buck on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government saying it was their job.

Most students returned to in-school learning in September, after five months of planning by the Ministry of Education. But rising numbers of the second wave has prompted a return to online-only. What happened to all the planning and contingencies? Or for that matter, what about all the investments in air-quality, computer technology, and resources for students? Again, for a second school year, students are being left behind.

We stand by our words that we all have a responsibility that we must bear. Elected government leaders, and their un-elected civil servants have a responsibility as well and need to do better.

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