Editorials - Jan. 13, 2022
A challenge to get behind
When the world lost beloved celebrity Betty White on New Year’s Eve, just days before what would have been her 100th birthday, people were looking for a way to honour her memory and grieve her loss. They landed on the Betty White Challenge, which asks everyone to donate $5 in her memory to a local animal shelter on her birthday, Jan. 17.
In addition to her longevity on television and in movies, White was a tireless advocate for animals, including serving as a trustee for zoos and ocean mammal conservation groups. The most interesting component of the legacy is the impact that the donations will have on small, local groups that see intakes increase in January and February when donations are traditionally at their lowest. Many local shelters work quietly in the background caring for unwanted animals with little to no funding and running under volunteer power. The boost that can come from such a social media challenge going viral cannot be overstated.
So, despite the fact that White’s 100th birthday celebration will have to go ahead without her, she would be tickled that her name is being used to help so many animals. So don’t forget to donate in her name on Jan. 17 to your favourite animal rescue. – DS
No direction home
As cases of COVID-19 surge around the world, largely due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, we know this to be true in Ontario as well. The problem with that information is that it’s largely anecdotal because, frankly, no one has any idea how many active cases we have.
For reasons that are practical and others that the skeptical among us might suspect are political, with a provincial election coming in less than six months, the provincial government has told Ontarians that case counts essentially mean nothing as cases continue to surge. Access to PCR testing is now restricted for many and even rapid tests are hard to come by, so many who are experiencing mild symptoms of the virus are being told to isolate at home, with their cases never being counted. Even so, case counts continue to be higher than they’ve ever been in the province, but many are left in the dark, assuming that what they’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. The government has been clear in saying that case counts, essentially, no longer matter and that hospitalization rates should be our focus going forward. This feels strange after almost two years of focusing on case counts.
For the average Ontarian, this is nothing more than a bit frustrating as we’re left with no concept of the true extent of virus spread in our communities. However, for those in healthcare, without accurate case counts, they have no idea what awaits them each day. And this is at a time when hospitalizations in the province are soaring and many facilities are being overwhelmed. There are even reports of a rising number of children being treated for the virus and, in the past two weeks, two children under the age of 10 with COVID-19 have died.
The provincial government has its hands full and limiting testing as cases multiply makes logistical sense, but to have absolutely no clarity on the severity of spread in our communities really has left many Ontarians feeling like we’re on our own at this point. – SL
Doing more with less
The pandemic has brought many lessons, including that, if people had the chance to avoid a thankless minimum wage job, they would.
That likely doesn’t surprise anyone, but the implication is that people want to feel respected for the work they do, and they want to be paid a fair wage. For years, capitalism has driven things in the opposite direction, though. Corporations would try to cut back on high-paid skilled labour by laying off workers and increasing the responsibilities of those who remain, leading to bad products and even worse morale.
The lesson that emergency funding for employees taught us is that they need to be respected (and paid a fair wage for what they’re doing) but there will always be people who try to get more out of less.
The issue recently came up at a Huron East Council meeting where council, for the umpteenth time, debated reducing its own size. During the debate, long-time councillor Larry McGrath pointed out that reducing the number of councillors wouldn’t directly translate to savings. Reducing the number of people on council will inevitably lead to fewer stipends being paid out, but each remaining member of council will need to attend more committee meetings and events to balance it out. Reducing the number of council members would also result in making the job even less appealing than it already is for younger candidates and would increase the burden on those who do want the job, likely leading to an increase in compensation, wiping out any savings.
We’ve all seen it across Huron County and the end result is a product that isn’t as good as it used to be, because, how could it be? McGrath has a good point, and councillors should remember it when discussing council composition: having more varied voices, with less pressure on each, will create better discussions and better decisions. – JDS