What the hell is going on in Canada right now?
"Our premier is just an absolute idiot"
Things in Canada look pretty fucked right now in terms of Covid. It’s honestly disorienting to hear about from an American perspective just as it seems like we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel down here. Everything is upside down! We’re supposed to be the ones just constantly fucking up. I take no pleasure in reporting this to be clear. I wouldn’t wish American-style public health and policing on my worst enemy.
I’m embarrassed to say that as is my right as a dumb fuck American I am no kind of an expert on Canada. In fact I’ve never even been there which is weird since I’ve lived most of my life in New England. I guess it’s always been a sort of why go to Canada when we have Canada at home type of thing. I have been on a huge Our Lady Peace kick lately though so that has to count for something.
In any case in order to get to the bottom of why our neighbors to the north seem to be fully chunking it on a third wave of Covid I asked over a dozen Canadians to explain what’s happening. So here is that. It’s like 8,000 words of Canadians just motherfucking their government over and over. Some of them are writers you may know like Karen Geier — who has contributed a long and comprehensive proper article laying out what’s brought them to this point — and Rob Rousseau. Most of them are anonymous. You probably don’t have to read the entire thing to get the idea since it’s really fucking long — in fact you’ll need to open this in your browser since the email will cut it off — but I expect Canadians who are pissed off at the moment will find a lot of catharsis to be had in here.
Hold on a minute though.
Yesterday I sent out this Hell World to paying subscribers. It’s a discussion with a palliative care nurse practitioner about how his job changed during the onslaught of Covid and what it feels like to be the person who has to explain to so many patients that they are going to die. It’s really depressing! Even grading on a curve for what I normally cover in here.
What do people tend to say at the end of life? When they know they’re about to die? Are there any common themes?
It’s really unpredictable how somebody is going to react to the news. Largely people immediately have regrets. I hate to say that. It’s human nature to not expect yourself to die. As the protagonist of reality you don’t expect that you’re ever going to die or not be around. I think a lot of people, it’s trite, but they go through those stages of grief. There's gotta be something else you can do, or what did I do wrong or what can I change. There has to be something. I think grief and regret comes early on in the process of digesting the news.
Then a lot of times it’s pretty inspiring. People try to make amends with themselves. A lot of times you see healing, or they’ll say I need to talk to my son. There are people I need to apologize to. A lot of times people deal with the news well. When that happens I sit down with them and say tell me about your life. Tell me what you did. A common thread I’ve seen is that if somebody felt loved during their life they have an easier time accepting the end of their life. It’s not a matter of success or accomplishment but if someone just feels like there was another person who cared for them when they were alive… The tragedy is that I’m not going to see my wife again, but at least I had that person caring for me the whole time.
Prior to that I published this absolutely gorgeous essay on memory and loss and memory loss by Irish writer Sean McTiernan. It is also paid-only. I think I’m going to be shifting to a higher percentage of paid-only pieces for a while fyi.
I’ve been thinking about my grandmother. It's not an anniversary or anything, she's still just dead like always. I’m thinking of a simple painting of a figure alone in a boat. She made it as a prescribed activity in the amazing home she spent her final years in while suffering from dementia after a severe stroke.
It was painted with great intensity, as if light was pouring out of the man. What complex feelings, it’s easy to wonder, was she trying to convey with this painting that she couldn’t with normal speech? Should I break out The Dictionary Of Symbols to see if there were any hidden messages or confessions?
My grandfather died 44 years before my granny did. He was a legendarily stoic man who loved a handful of things in the world. One was my granny. Another was fishing alone in a boat.
Subscribe here for a big discount I’ll keep up until tomorrow.
Oh one more thing. The great Kim Kelly interviewed me for Teen Vogue the other day. Check it out here if you like.
Ok now let’s get to Canada.
1. Basically the only reason people don’t realize that Canada is a deeply reactionary, racist, and unequal society is because Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather won a war of attrition against the entrenched power of the health insurance industry to kickstart a national medicare program in the 60s. And as you might have noticed, Canada’s creaky, non-universal healthcare system hasn’t really done a lot of good to confront a global pandemic when the country is run top to bottom by either two-faced neoliberals or pretend-working class conservative sociopaths. Justin Trudeau won a whole lot of national and international praise for instituting a (heavily means-tested) monthly survival benefit at the beginning of the pandemic, once again counting on our proximity to the ongoing disastrous calamity unfolding in America to make himself look like a million bucks in comparison. But the Trudeau-bucks ran out months ago, Covid is raging out of control across the country, and the cadre of right wing libertarian freaks running most of the provinces have very predictably managed to, you guessed it, put the lives of people who actually have to work for a living on the line to ensure that profits for the bosses and landlords are still flowing.
You probably remember charming crackhead the late Rob Ford — his brother Doug has been a very busy guy, explicitly defying the advice of medical professionals to prematurely re-open our most populated province, essentially turning it into Mad Max, then responding by giving unprecedented powers to police to search anyone who is outside their house at any time while ensuring the Covid-hotpot construction sites owned by his developer buddies remain open.
I live in Quebec where things are slightly less grim, and our vaccine rollout is moving a bit better than the glacial pace elsewhere in the country, but it’s also illegal for me to leave my house after 8pm right now. Kids are still in schools, though! I could go on, the entire country is a disaster. Let’s not even mention Alberta. It is a Bad Place. Also there is an entire new generation of absolute lunatics who have talked themselves into believing that the reason things are so bad right now is that the current crop of right wing freaks running the country are actually secret illuminati communists or whatever. Very fun times ahead. I’ll tell you all about it when we finally just get annexed and become an official northern US territory during the resource wars in the 30s.
2. Things in Ontario are a disaster. Our prime minister has done a decent enough job getting us vaccines but just not anywhere quick enough. Our premier is just an absolute idiot. I honestly truly believe he doesn't care who lives or who dies as long as those in power can still make money. He isn't fit to run a hot dog stand, let alone the province.
This pandemic has hit me personally. I work in the transport industry, so we were considered essential and didn't close. My wife is a teacher and has underlying health issues. Doesn't matter. Go to work and keep waiting for a vaccine. I have two small boys in daycare and school which is anxiety inducing. The hardest part was my boss, who is also my father in law, got Covid. He spent two weeks in hospital and passed away. This sucks. All of it sucks. I go to work everyday knowing he isn't coming in and it absolutely sucks. You would think the government would be sympathetic to people in this situation? Not even a little.
3. When you listen to a Doug Ford presser, you're consumed with the same rage you feel listening to Trump. He's stupid and big and loud, he has his own little weird mannerisms, he tries take shots at reporters asking him questions, and he refuses to take any blame or any proactive measures. And he's killing you. He's killing you by wasting your taxes on ad campaigns against a federal carbon tax, by his cuts to healthcare, by vaccinating cops before nurses, with his bumbling-about way of running government "like a business," and then turning that business into a death machine.
So many people knew what was about to happen. Deep into the second lockdown, all these articles and models about a "third wave," doctors on TV every day warning about opening up too quickly, warnings about how variants would spread quicker and be deadlier and dominate new infection numbers. And nobody was proactive about it. New case surges in certain areas meant a change to indoor dining limits which then went back to 50-100 person limits magically as case numbers continued to rise. And now all Dougie wants to do is blame other people. Blame everybody for sitting out on patios he opened. Blame young people who still have to go into work and can't use paid sick days anymore after he cut them. Blame the feds for not giving him enough vaccines when he's let things get so bad that the Canadian Medical Association is suggesting that vaccines need to be diverted from other provinces to harder-hit areas first and foremost to limit mass death. So he'll get his wish of clamoring for more vaccines, but it'll be too late.
One of the scarier things asked at the presser on Friday was if ICU capacity would be so full that we would have to send patients to the U.S., which Doug sidestepped and gave a long-winded spiel about how much he loves the leaders and the people in other provinces since we're probably going to have to send sick people to their hospitals. That's almost who I feel the worst for. The people in other provinces with competent leadership and a pride in keeping cases close to zero. Their ICUs are about to be overrun, their vaccines are going to run dry, and it's none of their fault.
4. Over the years, when people have found out I’m Canadian, I’ve had to field numerous weird questions: Do you ever get summer? (Yes) Was Celine Dion’s Wedding the top rated television program in Canadian history? (Also Yes) Do you eat Loons? (For the record: we don’t, generally speaking!) But lately, I’ve been consistently getting only one question: What the fuck is going on up in Canada with Covid?
The answer to that starts in some ways in the late 1980s when Brian Mulroney (yes, he IS related to Dermot) discontinued our domestic vaccine production, and no government since reinstated it. Keep that in mind for later.
In other ways, the story starts in 2017, when Doug Ford decided to run for Mayor of Toronto after years of being in his brother (famous crack smoker and Jimmy Kimmel interviewee Rob Ford)’s shadow. He actually said “this one’s for you, Robbie!” in an attempt to trade public sympathy for Rob’s death into a bonanza at the ballot box. (By all accounts, the brothers’ relationship was strained at best, which was evidenced recently when it came to light Doug was accused of embezzling his brother’s estate, essentially taking the money from Rob’s widow and children.) When it became clear he wouldn’t beat John Tory, Doug bowed out, turning his sights higher: to the Premier (think: Governor) of Ontario (the largest province in Canada, where he would get to boss around John Tory.)
Knowing Doug’s history at city council of being very friendly to campaign donors, a group of construction developers decided to back Doug’s campaign. Together, they contributed a rather paltry $150,000 for his campaign, and they have since profited handsomely on their investments with political concessions that equal dollars orders of magnitude larger than the investments, such as allowing nearly all construction to continue during the pandemic with extended hours.
Doug ran on two campaign policies: Cancelling Ontario’s comprehensive sex education, which had been retooled to include consent education and recognition of same sex families, and “Buck a Beer” which was a plan to change a law so that beer companies could sell beer at a lower unit price: one dollar (Loonie) each. He won a decisive victory. (The beer price would last less than two months and he would capitulate on the sex education) Doug set his sights on dismantling the social safety net that the Liberals had slowly but surely built over their 15 years in office. Number one on the chopping block: a Paid Sick Days program whereby all workers would be covered for sick days by a government guarantee. He also cut budgets to long term care facilities.
Smash cut to: March 2020. It’s becoming clear that Covid is in Ontario and cities like New York have already instituted lockdowns in an effort to distance people and slow the spread. Doug Ford, faced with the possibility of tanking his own economy, which he had just rebranded on license plates as “A Place To Grow” and signs shouting “OPEN FOR BUSINESS,” (the license plates would be recalled by the government for being defective) decides to wait and see, stumbling out of the gate to an eventual lockdown that was more of a mockdown: White collar workers were immediately put on telecommuting, while “essential” workers (meaning anything really, the description was deliberately vague so as to allow employers to use discretion) were still being sent to work without protection and often into a much more high pressure situation than before.
The cases went up. But not by as much as America, so for a while, a lot of Ontarians thought “we’re doing OK.” But then the grandmas started dropping like flies.
It turns out, making severe cuts to public nursing home facilities and not inspecting private facilities led to a nursing home crisis so extreme, for a while the military had to be called in to take care of it and investigate. The findings were the stuff of nightmares. To date, Ontario’s long term care deaths lead the world.
There was collateral damage from these outbreaks too: Personal Care Workers and nurses, many of which were from Toronto’s North-Western corner, often living in multi-generational homes, and most from racialized backgrounds, due to the Canadian version of Redlining, were spreading the disease to their family members, most of which had those “essential” jobs, and they ended up taking the disease with them to their workplaces because they didn’t have guaranteed paid sick days.
The numbers continued to rise. It looked bad, but many white Canadians didn’t know a single person who had the disease. Some of them began to call Covid ‘overblown’ and demanded to “reopen the economy.” Because racialized death has never been a cause for concern for Doug Ford (he never once voted for a policy to directly help racialized communities while a city councillor), he began to lean into the reopening of the economy way too early and very much against medical advice. For months, we didn’t ever see the “medical experts’ he was consulting. He would eventually find some bootlickers to go on TV and downplay the effects of the virus, and really destabilize what a lot of low information people in Ontario thought was true.
The numbers continued to rise. Construction sites were allowed to run and their hours of operation were increased. Factories that process meat and consumer packaged goods were allowed to stay open and were constantly having outbreaks. Many workplaces weren’t even reporting outbreaks, it would be revealed, making contact tracing next to impossible.
The solution? Open the economy up more: reopening gyms and casinos. We started to hear more about how the ‘mental health effects of the pandemic’ were ‘worse’ than the physical toll (no thought was ever given to the mental health effects of lifting the restrictions on funerals, which remain mostly private affairs where sometimes grandchildren find themselves off the guest list.)
The numbers rose again and again. At this stage, modelling was coming in warning of a second wave that would make the first look like a cakewalk. The solution was to ignore that advice and keep beating the drum about reopening the economy and also platforming the anti-mask, anti-lockdown groups which seemed to all be affiliated with white supremacist or heavily evangelical Christian fringe movements. The message was clear: we WILL kill your grandmas to grease the wheels of capitalism.
But suddenly in the fall, we passed a positivity rate milestone: 4% then another: 5.1% just weeks later. The federal government sent the provinces money- 19 Billion in total, which was intended to expand contact tracing, testing, and retrofit buildings like schools and workplaces to make them more safe. The Ford government sat on the lion’s share of the money for months.
Then modelling came out saying that if Christmas was allowed to happen, Ontario would be well and truly fucked. Christmas wasn’t cancelled. The premier would announce a ‘lockdown’ (mockdown) that would begin… on Boxing Day (December 26th. The day after everyone had gone to their cottages or visited relatives to spread the virus (many people, including members of parliament) flaunted the fact they were determined to spend the holidays with large groups of people under the misapprehension that if you aren’t scared, you can’t catch the virus. (The virus is not bees. You’re thinking of bees.)
The numbers spiked in January. There was a lot of talk, but zero action. More workplace outbreaks happened. The modelling was getting more dire and so were the positivity rates.
But then, it was announced that gyms, casinos, BARS and INDOOR DINING would reopen. At this point, people began to scream that they did not want this. They wanted to feel safe.
During this time, schools were beginning to regularly test positive for cases, but rather than send kids home as happened in March 2020, the minister of education kept touting that “kids belong in schools” (so their parents could go back to work.) Cases continued to climb and schools began to get shut down with outbreaks.
Then, they postponed March break. This was touted as a solution somehow to the problem (the problem being that kids were contracting Covid at school and making them continue to go to school was somehow helping?)
That’s how we ended up with case counts and positivity rates that are outstripping American figures every day with no end in sight.
When demanded by opposition parties, medical professionals, the public, and the media to re-introduce paid sick days, Ford flat out refused, saying there was “no reason” for them.
But he was working fast and furiously on a plan: A plan to build a highway to nowhere that oddly enough would pass by some strategically positioned parcels of land, owned by his previous campaign backers. The story was broken by the Toronto Star, and while citizens have been protesting and mayors have been denouncing the project, the project has not been shelved. The money we “didn’t have” for paid sick days and retrofitting schools with HEPA filters suddenly was ready to go to break ground on a highway nobody asked for.
In spring, it was announced that three vaccines had been given the green light from Canada’s version of the FDA, Health Canada. Justin Trudeau made a big show of putting the military in charge of the procurement and disbursement process, which was glacial, due to Canada having to purchase every single vial from the United States due to its inability to produce vaccines domestically.
Once the vaccines were in Ontario, the problems only worsened. The vaccines were sitting in freezers. Mass vaccination clinics (similar to the Javits center location in New York City) were opened and immediately closed due to vaccine supply. Privately owned pharmacies were put in the queue to receive vaccines but they weren’t arriving. People were scrambling trying to figure out how to get their elderly family members vaccinated, only to find out that the only way to do that was to navigate a series of websites with conflicting information. The situation was so bad, a rogue twitter account is compiling the information and tweeting it out as slots become available. When asked about this roll out in a press conference, Doug Ford made fun of the stupidity of his own constituents for being unable to figure the system out.
Then, the bickering broke out between the Provincial and Federal governments. Ford claimed the vaccines weren’t where Ministry of Health reporting declared they were, and Justin Trudeau, in lieu of finding a procedural solution, decided to try deputizing the Red Cross. The offer was refused by Doug Ford.
This was avoidable. Canada has a law called the Emergencies Act which basically gives unlimited power to the federal government to, among other things, institute complete lockdowns coast-to-coast, shut down the provincial borders, and yes, take over vaccine distribution. The feds are only now getting around to considering how they might be able to take control of Ontario, but are still reticent to just jump in and help people, while Doug Ford is posturing in the media that there’s a “vaccine shortage” despite there being 1.2 million doses of vaccines sitting in freezers across Ontario while vaccination has been slow.
Many jokes have been made about how Doug Ford was a small time hash dealer in the 1980s with his brother Randy, and now he’s had two at bats: Provincial marijuana retail (he somehow managed to lose over $42 million dollars in the first year selling weed... to CANADIANS) and Covid vaccine distribution, and he hasn’t been able to complete the transaction properly on either front. This joke assumes that competence is the goal. With Doug Ford, he has two white whales he’d like to deliver: Privatizing education, and privatizing our OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan), and what we’ve learned from Maggie Thatcher’s reign of terror is that in order to privatize something, you must demonize it and prove its ineffectiveness. Doug Ford is currently deep into the process of achieving both, and Canadians are paying with their lives and livelihoods.
-Karen Geier is a writer and content strategist living in Toronto with her dog Pee Wee. Follow her at @karengeier
5. I have lived in a couple places in Ontario during this pandemic including Toronto proper. It’s kinda been the tale of two pandemics up here. The first wave everyone buckled down and we got the cases down so we could have a relatively relaxed summer. All throughout the summer we were warned about a second wave in the fall and most people thought we were more prepared. Well, we weren’t. You can thank our premier, brother of the late crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford, Doug for that. His government was elected because a bunch of real estate developers pumped in a ton of money into MAGA-style propaganda outlets to oust the 15 year liberal government who had some blemishes on their record in power. The last conservative government we had ended with the Walkerton water treatment scandal where their gutting of regulations caused an E. coli outbreak which resulted in deaths. I do not know why anyone thought this guy who dropped out of high school to deal hash and then join his dad’s label company (which he drove into the ground) was fit to govern but here we are.
Now the third wave is in full swing, the variants of concern are running rampant, and while we are keeping pace and outperforming most of the world when it comes to vaccination, we are nowhere near the U.S. That is partially due to the privatization of one of our largest vaccination research and production facilities (by a conservative federal government) and by the fact that we just aren’t a superpower, but it is hard for a lot of Canadians to take being inferior to the Americans, especially when it comes to healthcare. We are heading into a New York level health care system collapse and all Doug does is deflect and blame people for their personal choices and the feds for not providing more help. (They have offered some but Doug has declined most of it). His science table is telling him that we need paid sick days and that is the one thing he refuses to do. A large majority of cases are warehouse, food processors, and transit and manufacturing workers who are mostly poor, racialized people living in multi generational homes, and a large number of them are new immigrants. So while Dougie sits on his pulpit and tells everyone that he’s very disappointed in them, he does nothing to help those being led to the slaughter at the Amazon warehouse in Peel just outside of Toronto.
Conservatives are no different in this country. When they are in power they make policies that straight up kill people. We just have the misfortune of being governed by one during a pandemic.
6. The main issue comes down to the fact that restriction guidelines and vaccine distribution have been left to the provincial governments, and some of those provincial governments are fucking it up more than others. The incompetency also mysteriously correlates to these governments being conservative. Many provinces (the maritime provinces especially) are doing really well, but that isn't getting much coverage. I'm in Alberta aka "the Texas of Canada," so I can't speak much to the situation in Ontario other than that our per capita infection rate here is the highest in the country, so we're probably just a week or two behind the mess they're in right now. But I have some ideas as to why it's so bad here. To start, there have been massive cuts/threatened cuts to health care here during the pandemic:
There is just so much more to this, but any health care workers that are left here are burnt out as hell, and despite expanding ICUs to handle more Covid patients we don't have enough staff to man them. On the public side, restrictions that have been put in place now are extremely half-assed with an impetus on finding a "balance" between closures and businesses being open. This results in a close-open-close-open pattern as infection rates go up and down that is tough enough for businesses (especially those that serve food), but they also offer little to no financial aid during closures due to this perceived "balance." After the last closure announcement many businesses refused to comply and there seems to be not a lot of enforcement. Schools were also not a part of the most recent closure until a couple days ago when the school boards asked the provincial government to let them close and do at-home learning because they were running out of teachers that are not in mandatory isolation or infected. Plus there are tons of MAGA/Q/anti-mask/anti-vax dipshits here that I'm sure aren't helping.
As for vaccines, some have pointed to the US hoarding doses as an issue, but at the end of the day we have yet to run out of shots to give, so I'm not sure how much of a problem that actually is. What is certainly an issue is that the rollout is a disorganized mess which they blame on the federal government whenever it comes up. (They blame the feds for basically everything so not really a surprise). Some good coverage of that here.
What I'm getting at is socialized medicine is not the issue, having an elected government that doesn't want to properly fund or organize it is. I wouldn't be surprised if once we are on the other side of this, conservative politicians will point to it as a failure of socialism and push to open more private clinics, using the needless deaths of thousands to further their agenda.
But hey it's all good they're saying we'll have all restrictions lifted by the end of July yeehaaaaaaw!
7. Canada is made up of three territories and ten provinces. When it comes to the pandemic, only four provinces have seen major problems. Unfortunately, those four contain over 80% of the population.
In Ontario, the biggest province, we've been losing the fight against the variants. Vaccine rollout is too slow, our "lockdowns" are a joke, and the messaging has been terrible.
Premier Ford (brother of the crack smoking former mayor of Toronto), seems determined to let things pass the tipping point. Parks are closed but factories are open. He turned down help from the Red Cross, but begged other provinces to send us health care workers. He's not even considering paid sick days when several warehouses have had outbreaks.
New modeling got released, and even with a huge surge in vaccines things look bleak. Feels like it's only a matter of time before we see bodies pile up. The ICUs are at capacity now, and daily cases will double the current amount in the best case projection which we can't possibly meet.
Every week officials blame us when they're the ones who rolled the dice. In February the models predicted “a disaster.” They opened up anyway and refuse to accept responsibility for that. It's shameful.
Honestly, the full interview linked here basically says it all better than I could. She's one of the doctors trying to navigate us through this and you can hear the heartbreak in her voice.
8. Being online during the last year has been a wild ride. Canadians, like anyone, were tense as hell when Covid initially hit, and it was devastating to see how badly it destroyed the long term care homes in Ontario and Quebec. Still, we got to be quietly smug when we saw how the U.S. absolutely melted down in a wave of deaths during the end of the Trump administration. Now, however, the shoe's on the other foot. We don't have the domestic capacity or capability to manufacture the requisite vaccines. We've had to rely on foreign shipments and, surprise surprise, we aren't the number one customer. Outside of the federally managed vaccine acquisition (bad), money for people losing jobs due to COVID (not bad), and travel restrictions (spotty), Covid management has largely fallen to the provinces. And we in Ontario are now showing our ass to the world as a result of Rob Ford's idiot bully brother.
It's pretty clear as Covid has developed that there are significant hotspots focused on industrial/commercial settings and essential workers. Because there's no sick leave, no rapid testing program, no contact tracing, no industrial blitzes, no focused vaccination program on essential workers, we are doing Covid theatre instead of fixing the problem. The variants are going to ravage Ontario and Ford is fiddling while we burn. It's brutal. It's ideology -- protecting businesses and not spending money -- or stupidity. Either way, we are going to have to vaccinate our way out of this because we are fucked regarding trying to control it ourselves. See you in August maybe.
Watching people die because of this shithead government is infuriating.
9. Something I see as an underreported element is the role domestic vaccine production plays in other countries. Canada once had a publicly owned pharmaceutical manufacturer that produced vaccinations, but was sold off to private interests by the government in the 1980s, and quickly moved offshore after it was privatized. Because of this, Canada is relying 100% on Covid vaccines imported from the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. and Europe, as it turns out, would rather vaccinate their own citizens than Canada’s.
The premier of Ontario (rough equivalent would be the governor of New York for the American readers) on Friday gave police the power to stop and question anyone who is outside their home.
This comes just hours after a cop in the Toronto suburbs was recorded hugging and posing for photos at an anti-mask protest, so I feel we have a good idea how interested they are in controlling covid.
As someone who lives in an overpoliced urban neighbourhood, I am afraid for the implications this will have on me and my neighbours, particularly the racialized and homeless members of my community who face police harassment and violence daily.
Our Covid cases in Ontario have been rising at an alarming rate since December-ish. All along, public health officials have been pleading with the government to take action, and they have refused and delayed at every turn. Every restriction that has come to mitigate the spread -- suspending indoor restaurant dining, closing shopping malls, sending kids home from school -- has come a month too late. Even with these half-assed public health measures, our media has fanned anti-lockdown backlash.
And while Covid outbreaks have run wild in workplaces -- factories, Amazon warehouses, construction sites -- these are the last things on the list to close. And 13 months into the pandemic, the provincial government still refuses to guarantee paid sick time to the poor people that it is throwing into the fireplace at these workplaces. Ontario announced a ban on “outdoor recreation” on Friday, closing things like tennis courts, playgrounds, parks, etc. that are widely considered to be safe pandemic activities by public health officials.
A new thing to upset me on social media is seeing Americans posting their vaccine selfies and vaccination cards. A month or so ago, I started seeing people like me, people in their 30s with no underlying health conditions that I’m aware of, getting vaccinated. In the meantime, I know I likely won’t be vaccinated until at least the fall. My mother, who is in her 70s, only got her first vaccine dose this week.
Canadians are incredibly smug about America/Americans. Earlier in the pandemic, they had a lot to say about America and how the government was incompetent and letting the virus spread out of control. Now it’s Canada’s government doing that, and Canadians seem to have a very entitled and self-righteous attitude about it happening to them. I’m seeing people feel completely fucking deserted by their government for the first time, when I know that most Americans are pretty accustomed to that. It reminds me of that viral video of a white man being arrested in an airport a few years ago who shrieked “YOU’RE TREATING ME LIKE A BLACK PERSON!” as he was being handcuffed. It’s as if Canadians know that governments can completely hang their citizens out to dry and leave them to fend for themselves in dire situations, and it’s funny and totally okay as long as it isn’t impacting them personally.
10. I'll skip the deep background of research labs being privatized and starved of funds, and pharma facilities shutting down and moving overseas. But that fucked us over hard and we now have no capacity to manufacture vaccines in our own country.
Some of our provincial (basically state-level) governments are run by Trumpian buffoons and goons. This includes our biggest province, Ontario, which is run by Doug Ford, brother of Toronto's infamous crackhead former mayor Rob Ford. (fun fact: Doug Ford used to sell hash when he was in high school. So the vaccine situation here is that a drug dealer is incapable of distributing drugs. It'd be ironic and funny, if people weren't dying). So, errr, yeah. Two shitty things are happening at once in Ontario (same issues in Alberta, and to a lesser extent some other provinces).
First, the vaccine rollout is slow and idiotic. Part of the blame lies in Canada having no domestic production of vaccines and therefore being at the mercy of foreign suppliers. But a big part of the blame lies with these provincial morons not prioritizing the most at-risk people like front line workers. And they play partisan bullshit politics while lives are at stake, like for example declaring the richest ridings (voting districts, basically) "red zones" with stepped up vaccination programs, even though the infection rate in those ridings are super low, while actually reducing vaccine availability in poor ridings with lots of frontline workers, people of colour, and fucking insane high infection rates.
Second, these provincial leaders are prioritizing keeping businesses open over saving lives. They always drag their feet, and reluctantly take merely superficial and inadequate actions only after it is too late. One cabinet minister in Ontario actually said a week or two ago that sure, they knew that the models were horrific and showed that ICUs will be swamped and people will die, but they wanted to wait and see if that actually played out before taking any action. So lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were delayed by weeks just so these mouth breathers could check whether them thar eggheads were right with their models. And people fucking died.
Meanwhile, our federal Liberal (read: neoliberal) government is hardly any better. They have the capacity to step in and fix a lot of this shit. But funding for anti-Covid measures is limited to trickles, and the Canadian military and all their resources are NOT being used for something good for once. Why? Because our prime minister and his cronies well know that the worse shit gets, the more the provincial leaders from the opposing political parties will suffer. Basically, they are sitting back and letting people die because it makes their enemies look bad.
11. At first, it almost seemed like Doug Ford knew what he was doing. By at first, I mean back in March. Of 2020.
Ontario started locking down after the first recorded death here, case levels and positivity rates stayed below most places in the U.S., and while everything was boring, things were mostly "fine" as the first wave came and went. Restrictions started to be lifted in many regions of the province.
And then fall arrived. And the children went back to school. In person. And then the case counts skyrocketed. Especially in Toronto and the surrounding areas. This time Doug wouldn't be moving so fast or looking like he knew what he was doing. We were now firmly entrenched in "oh that's right, we elected the brother of a former crack addicted mayor as the premier" territory and things only continued to get worse. By the end of November, Toronto was thrown back into full blown lockdown. Except that "lockdown" basically means whatever your employer wants it to mean, because retail was still open for curbside, warehousing and construction was still going, hell, the damn SHOPPING MALLS were still open. Not only was every decision the wrong one, it was more perplexing than the last. There has been no rhyme or reason to the restrictions put in place since November.
Ford "locked down" the entire province four days before Christmas and the case counts kept climbing. And so now we're here. Where we just keep tweaking the recreational lockdown restrictions but still won't actually make people stay home. Factories and warehouses are still open but the playground is closed. The police can now stop you and harass you about why you aren't at home. Oh and this entire time Doug has refused to put into place any kind of paid sick leave so that people who maybe don't feel well and might have Covid and not know it could stay home and not infect their entire workplace.
On top of all that he botched the vaccine rollout and continues to blame Trudeau for it rather than taking any kind of responsibility for his own fuck ups. A conservative’s conservative.
So that's where we are. Perpetually trapped in a pandemic because the oaf running the show bases every decision on "the economy" or possibly nothing at all but his brain dead "instincts." It feels like we're absolutely headed for another summer inside where only the anti-mask/anti-vaccine people go outside... to protest the lockdown. These people will absolutely line up to re-elect Doug, who at last checked is projected to win by somewhere between 7 and 25%. We live in Hell. And now that Americans are getting vaccinated and seem to actually be flattening their curve, we can't even feel superior about how "at least it's not as bad as the U.S." anymore.
12. I live in Ottawa which is the capital of Canada and the province of Ontario. Basically, our premier (Doug Ford) has supremely fucked things up by instituting half measures to deal with the virus, while also prioritizing business over people. He also has a weird stick up his ass about getting federal help. He is extremely critical of the federal government, and today he rejected the PM's offer of getting the Red Cross to help Ontario.
Ford has a habit of being like "stay tuned for my next announcement!" and then announcing things that our public health units know nothing about. For example, a couple of weeks ago he said that certain Covid hotspots will start vaccinating everyone 18+, but the Public Health Unit in those areas were like "wtf we don't have the supply for this! This is the first that I'm hearing of this plan!"
The province also started using this weird colour coded system for how the Covid restrictions will be applied, but a lot of doctors thought that the limits for each colour were too low. However, Ford will also announce new restriction categories like the recent "emergency brake" measures. So no one really knows where we are on the scale.
Here's a good article that explains the vaccine plan confusion
Friday Ford also gave a press conference where he implemented more Covid restrictions. Now the cops can stop anyone outside (even in vehicles) and ask what you're doing out. They can also ask for proof of residence (what we call "carding", aka being forced to show some kind of ID). If you don't comply, you could get a $750 fine.
But we still don't have any paid sick days or any plan to focus vaccination efforts on essential workers.
Again, the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) learned about this like an hour after he announced it, so they have no idea how this will be implemented. Ford is also extremely against instituting paid sick days, and says that it is the federal government's responsibility.
Here's a good article about the new restrictions.
I'm 31 and likely won't get my first vaccine shot until July. That means that I likely won't get my second shot until November, at the latest. My mom is almost 60 and has a heart condition, and so far has only had one shot. She isn't due to get her second until June. This is also assuming that vaccine supplies will stay stable. I obviously don't mind waiting to get my vaccine, but I am very lucky to be able to work from home. What about other people in my age group who can't?
Oh here's another weird thing! There will now be checkpoints between Ontario and Quebec. Particularly in Ottawa, there is a lot of commerce done with a part of Quebec called Gatineau (pronounced "Gat-in-know"). Even at my workplace, there are a bunch of people who live in Gatineau, but work in Ottawa. What happens to the poor essential workers who are crossing the provincial border every day? Sure, the essential workers can pass the checkpoints, but it is just using up resources and time for people who are already under so much stress.
The last link is good: basically Ford will allow patios, indoor dining, and shopping malls to open, and then be like "why is everyone going to the mall?"
13. Ontario and BC are having a huge surge of cases in the last month. We're the most populated provinces. It's like if NY and CA just shit the bed entirely and never gave clear language on do's/don'ts. I don’t know about Ontario, but in BC where I am the provincial health authority basically never did a real shutdown even once. The provincial government of BC got cocky and acted like we were doing well the whole time, which was true at the beginning, but the continued delay of vaccines is pissing people off. My age cohort isn't eligible for the vax until July.
And on a micro-level every part of the contact tracing experience is just balls being dropped everywhere. I have a coworker who was exposed, and the guy is in one health authority while our shop is in another health authority. I just found out these two separate health authorities (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health) have different definitions of close contact events.
14. I’m isolating from my family because I have an extra contagious variant of Covid and we're still not done vaccinating people over 60. I’m from the States, and don't get me wrong the socialized medicine here is not something to knock, my wife and I had a child and we basically didn't pay for anything, so i'm not knocking that aspect, it's just that I live in Quebec, which currently has an incredibly right wing reactionary provincial government. Aside from the socialized medicine, it's basically no different than living in the U.S.
A lot of Québécois people don't even believe in the shit, and all the anti-maskers are the only ones here with the motivation to actually protest, but instead of demanding anything good they just want gyms to open and shit. The provincial govt knows they don't need Montréal to win réélection. so they've basically allowed the city to completely languish with cases going up all the time while they refuse to close schools and most workplaces.