Editorials - Feb. 10
Time to step up
According to The Globe and Mail, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to table one of the biggest funding offers of his time as the leader of Canada, over $100 billion, over 10 years to help fund and reform healthcare in Canada. This comes at a time when labour shortages and overworked staff have plagued the healthcare system across the country and temporary emergency room closures have come to be expected.
This very editorial board, weeks ago, suggested that, as the provinces foundered, the federal government should step up and provide definitive leadership on healthcare, helping wherever it could, including opening its pockets to help cash-strapped provinces care for their residents. The hope is that the meeting between Trudeau and the country’s premiers, set for Tuesday, goes well and that the federal government offers a smart, reasonable path forward for the funding, rather than attaching too many strings, for which this government has often been criticized.
As provincial governments have been left to their own devices, scrambling to find their own solutions to problems that seem to only grow by the day, fears of privatization, especially here in Ontario, have taken hold. There have been whispers about Premier Doug Ford’s desire to bring in a privatized healthcare model to Ontario for years, but only now, with all the issues the system is facing, have those who oppose that concept really felt the wheels beginning to spin in that direction.
On healthcare, once a shining jewel of the Canadian experience, Trudeau has an opportunity to demonstrate real leadership and affect change that will benefit most Canadians. We can only hope that it’s done properly, in a way that gets us the best bang for our buck. – SL
The cost of misinformation
Late last month, the Council of Canadian Academies released a report that estimates that the spread of COVID-19 misinformation between March and November of 2021 cost the country $300 million in hospital expenses and cost 2,800 people their lives.
Alex Himelfarb, chair of the panel that authored the report, admits that the report’s estimates are rather conservative, due to the limited time period. However, the authors postulate that, during that period, misinformation played a role in over two million Canadians choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it was first made available to them. As a result, they say, Canada would have seen about 200,000 fewer cases of COVID-19 and 13,000 fewer hospitalizations.
As the debate over COVID-19 vaccination has raged on, this report, for the first time, estimates the true cost in terms of dollars and cents, as well as human life, of people being influenced online by often easily disprovable misinformation.
Reports like these, unfortunately, are doomed to mean, well, nothing in the long run. For those who have spent recent years advocating for vaccination, listening to medical experts, this report will tell them what they already know. Those on the other side, however, will dismiss the findings of the report as hogwash from another government-funded (the Council of Canadian Academies, though an independent research organization, does receive federal funding) study pushing “the big lie”.
While many are keen to move on with their lives, it’s important to remember that some have not been so lucky and that there can be a cost to thinking you can believe everything you read on the internet. – SL
Have your say
On Monday night, North Huron Council heard from dozens of people who oppose the idea of closing the Blyth and District Community Centre as a cost-saving measure. Residents and users, young and old, voiced their opinion in written correspondence to council, in addition to a live presentation from John Stewart and Greg Toll of the Blyth Lions Club.
Nearly 50 residents took the time to write to council and indicate their opposition to any decision that would result in the closure of the centre, including representatives from Blyth Broomball, Blyth Brussels Minor Hockey and the Londesborough and District Lions Club.
It’s uncertain if council will revisit Chief Administrative Officer Dwayne Evans’ recommendation to close the centre in the summer months or what the outcome will be of Reeve Paul Heffer’s recreation review, a very leading endeavour with the Blyth centre in its crosshairs, but the people have spoken. North Huron Council members are elected by residents to manage their money and care for their communities. The many letters written to council should strike a chord with councillors, showing them that the centre is important to much of their population.
Being a municipal politician these days is hard work, no one is disputing that. But the people have spoken and they’ve said they want a community centre in their village. Will council listen, or will members be too arrogant, imposing their wants and needs on unwilling residents? Only time will tell, but everyone who wrote to council did the right thing, clearly telling council what’s important to them and pleading their case as to why it shouldn’t be taken away, regardless of circumstance. – SL