Editorials - April 8, 2021
An unequal impact
Recently, a group of Huron County women began a weekly Zoom discussion by exploring the impact the pandemic was having on them. The stress of working from home or losing one’s livelihood, caring for senior parents and looking after school-aged children were common themes. While it was a small sample, statistically speaking, the conversation highlighted the differences in the effect that the pandemic is having on women when compared to their male counterparts.
This fell in line with studies like the one undertaken by the University of Guelph last fall which found that 38 per cent of women in Huron and Perth Counties who responded to the survey had reported that the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health, compared with 29 per cent of the men reporting a negative impact. The United Nations and various women’s agencies are also sounding the warning bells for women’s mental health, economic equality and health care in a post-pandemic environment.
In many families, women take on the caregiving role for multiple generations and the pandemic has caused that role to be increasingly difficult. From managing senior relatives’ healthcare to being responsible for virtual school attendance, each relationship requires new skills to navigate the changes brought by the COVID-19 virus.
While the virus itself may not be gender-biased, there are some side effects for women as a result of the pandemic and it may take them some time to recover. – DS
The lucky ones
As the provincial government has pulled the “emergency brake” to slow the spread of COVID-19, people have found many reasons to complain. Business owners are pledging non-compliance with this latest action, while many citizens are frustrated with the bungled vaccine rollout, seeing others around the world return to normal life while the situation in Ontario worsens. While there are reasons to be frustrated, from economic hardship to limited access to amenities missed by many, last week Huron-Perth Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen provided a sobering reminder of why this is all necessary.
On March 30, 2020, Huron Perth Public Health announced the region’s first death – a St. Marys man in his 60s had died from the virus. In the year since, 49 others have joined, losing their lives to COVID-19.
So while people complain about not being able to go to gyms or get their hair cut, it’s important to remember the 50 Huron-Perth families that have lost someone around the dinner table. In Canada, that number has topped 23,000 and worldwide it is approaching three million.
As the carefree plead for a return to normal life, insisting only the old, the weak and the sick are dying (this is inarguably untrue, especially as new variants take hold), these are people who are no longer breathing because of this virus. Men, women, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and grandparents have all been lost as a result of COVID-19.
Reflecting on one year of deaths, perhaps day-to-day inconveniences should feel a little less crushing and we should retain perspective as we live, breathe and enjoy the company of our loved ones. – SL
Ontario residents once again find themselves under a lockdown, though it’s a bit different from the previous lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 virus. The provincial government pulled the “emergency brake” on April 3 at midnight, allowing some retail spaces to stay open, keeping children in school and allowing some indoor religious ceremonies to go forward.
While those changes will undoubtedly be appreciated by some, they fly in the face of the experts that Ontario Premier Doug Ford claims to follow, as both Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province David Williams and members of the science advisory table said that “stay-at-home” orders are necessary in Ontario to prevent any further taxing of the hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) systems due to new COVID-19 variants of concern.
Ford’s decision seems to be less of a decision and more like waffling. On the one side, he has the experts he’s used as a shield for his decision-making during the pandemic, while on the other he has strained economic drivers. His decision to take a softer stance than that recommended suggests Ford is siding with the economic drivers. The situation is serious, but his actions aren’t, leaving us to question where his priorities lie.
The announcement also brings into question whether the last lockdown, in late December and early January, ended too early, given the strain the healthcare system is now under due to COVID-19 variants.
One thing is for sure, for the health of the province or the health of its economic system, half-measures aren’t the way to beat this virus or for Ontario to find its way back to economic prosperity. – JDS