I wouldn’t want to be a provincial Premier right now. Especially the Premier of the province I happen to live in, Ontario, where a state of emergency was declared this past Tuesday (which went into effect this past Thursday) as well as a stay-at-home order, along with guidelines that seemed to contradict both of those declarations.
If it’s an “emergency” why did it not come into effect for two days? And while we’re on that topic, why was the last lockdown here initiated the day AFTER Christmas? Why are local small businesses forced to shutter their doors to in-store customers while big box stores operate as if their walls provide some sort of territorial temporary vaccine or magical Covid-proof force field? How will this new order be enforced when the police and newly hired “enforcers” aren’t actually sure what to do? And how is a “stay-at-home” order different from a curfew?
Of all those questions, Premier Ford only had an answer for the last one, when he swiftly replied saying, “The last thing I’ve ever believed in is a curfew, where police are chasing you down your driveway after 8 o’clock.” Finally, the experiences of his youth as an “enterprising non-prescription-medicine entrepreneur” had come in handy in his daily briefings as leader of Canada’s most populous province.
But all those other questions remain and I believe are haunting every political leader who tries to provide guidance now through this 2nd wave of the pandemic. Even the ones who weren’t chased by police in their youth.
We should all be staying at home right now, whether we are ordered to or not.
But for some people, like essential workers in healthcare and the food industry, it’s impossible. While others have simply deemed themselves “essential” and therefore see themselves as an exception to guidelines and provincial orders. Which makes them, in my opinion, the most expendable of all. But unfortunately they’re endangering those who are worth saving.
Premier Ford addressed these types of people in saying, “if you have to ask yourself whether what you are doing is essential, it’s probably not.” Which would be a good litmus test for reasonable people. But not in a city where a large portion of the population, even when shown a working model of the solar system, would insist that the sun shines directly out of their own anus.
Meanwhile, COVID numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate. Scientists and doctors (at least the ones who didn’t go away on tropical vacations recently) continue to warn everyone that if we do not all do what we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and it’s various new strains (assumingly called new and improved COVID-21 and gluten-free organic COVID) that cases in Ontario alone will soon be in the tens of thousands per day, with increased fatalities following closely behind. Which of course has caused many Ontarians to flee the province and the country for warmer climes where, I guess, COVID can’t go because it doesn’t have proper passport papers and is on a no-fly list? I’m not sure why the option to fly away still exists. But I’m damn sure if you do, you shouldn’t have the option of flying back until maybe 2023. And your house should be used as a COVID treatment facility for overrun ICUs.
So what do we do now?
Well, one thing that should be done (and should have been done a LONG time ago) is to make paid-sick leave mandatory for every worker affected by this pandemic that can work from home and SHOULD not go into work in a public environment. Especially lower income workers in grocery stores, food manufacturing and long-term care who are absolutely essential and absolutely did not sign up to be on the frontlines of a pandemic. The federal government offers something through wage subsidies but provincially only Quebec and PEI offer mandated programs. None of the other provinces have stepped up. Which is another reason I wouldn’t make a good provincial Premier. Because if I told people they had to ‘stay home’ I would make damn sure I did everything in my power to ensure they could do that and still afford to pay their rent and stock their home with the very groceries they spend their day stocking on to store shelves.
And as for businesses themselves, I know a lot of Canadian small business owners try to do whatever they can, but it seems that larger companies, making greater (or ANY) profits during this pandemic, have taken this opportunity to do exactly nothing in terms of paid sick leave for workers. Which I suppose explains why so many business people want to become provincial Premiers.
So, it’s easy to order everyone to “stay home.” But it would be a lot more meaningful if all those who choose not to do their part and simply carry on with their lives as normal, endangering the rest of us, had the option of flying taken away from them and had to swim there. And it would be actually possible for more people to stay home if more Canadian provinces and companies would step up and provide paid sick leave.
All of this to say, if it is possible for you, please, stay home. And if this personal plea from me isn’t enough to convince you (and I’m sure for most of you it isn’t) I’ve reworked this old classic from a simpler time to basically remind you reasonable adults that, well, you’re not kids anymore. Cheers…