Editorials - Jan. 27, 2022
Not done yet
As the pandemic continues into its third year, letters to the editor and social media memes continue to claim that the COVID-19 virus is “nothing more than the common cold”. As science continues to evolve and we learn more about the virus that marched into our lives in early 2020, we know that it is not a common cold. While it is true that many people who contract the virus will experience mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, a few will develop severe illness and some will die.
By now, all of us know someone who has contracted the illness and many of us know someone who was quite ill. What most of us still find scary is that science has not evolved to the point where we know exactly what triggers the extreme illness. We know that the elderly and people with underlying conditions are most at risk, but at the same time we see reports of previously healthy individuals succumbing to the illness. That’s what makes it difficult to open up the economy, when we only have a minimal amount of information to decide who needs protection and who could probably survive.
While the vaccines have not been the panacea that we had all hoped for, it still appears to be the best way to avoid the most severe illness. Last week Huron Perth Public Health released data that showed that since April 2021 (when vaccines became widely available in the region), 81 per cent of hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been in unvaccinated people, despite comprising a far lower percentage of the population.
Since no one knows whether they will have the sniffles or life-threatening pneumonia as a result of catching COVID-19, getting vaccinated remains our best bet for keeping safe, keeping our health care from being overwhelmed and for keeping our economy open. – DS
Outside of the box
Restaurants have been among the industries hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and the see-saw approach to lockdowns and restrictions by the provincial government and we have yet to find the silver bullet that will restore these establishments to their past glory. As the pandemic enters its third year, restaurant owners, chefs and cooks and others in the hospitality industry have become increasingly fed up with all levels of government, with many insisting that the pandemic (and control measures) may have just killed the industry off for good.
That’s why it’s refreshing to see the City of Barrie initiate a program aimed at revitalizing its restaurants, despite taking a bite out of city revenue. The city announced on Jan. 18 that anyone who receives a parking ticket in one of the city’s paid lots will have the opportunity to cancel that fine by providing proof of purchase from a Barrie restaurant that is equal to or greater than the fine within five days of receiving the ticket. Barrie actually had implemented the program from April to June of 2021, but will now bring it back any time restaurants are closed for in-person dining over the course of 2022.
It might not be perfect and may not even work, but it’s innovative and it shows Barrie’s commitment to helping its businesses in the face of extremely challenging circumstances. People have since called on other Ontario cities, namely Toronto, to similarly commit to their restaurants as they teeter on the brink of an uncertain future.
Restaurants (and many other industries) have a long road ahead of them, whether it’s shutdowns, capacity limits or helping the more cautious among us feel comfortable with in-person dining again. Right, wrong or indifferent, having your local government in your corner, working to help you succeed, is a step in the right direction. – SL
Digging a deeper hole
Toronto got hit by a pretty significant snowstorm last week, leaving thousands snowed in and in need of help. Fortunately, the business of running the province was apparently pretty light that day as Ontario Premier Doug Ford found time in his schedule to drive around the city shovelling people out with a child-sized shovel and give a ride or two.
In hindsight, it’s pretty apparent that Ford was using the snowstorm to pull a snow job on the province. That same day, his approval ratings came out and he was at his lowest point, as low as Kathleen Wynne was before she left office. However, not everyone realized that at the time. Some Canadian media organizations bent over backwards to cover Ford despite the fact that his government has made a habit of playing favourites with media outlets or just creating its own. Canada’s media did such a bad job of giving Ford a stage that it was among the top issues on Twitter the following days with a hashtag of #CdnMediaFailed.
Should we help our neighbours? Definitely. Ford, however, was likely trying to curry favour with voters. While it’s great to have a leader who embodies the spirit of a good neighbour, the fact that he’s so far down in approval means, at best, his motives were questionable. His actions were also inappropriate from a safety standpoint.
The media needs to realize that, when someone who stonewalls you is suddenly looking for attention, there’s likely an ulterior motive. – JDS