Editorials - Jan. 6, 2022
At your own risk
Two years into a pandemic and there is still a failure to adapt. Over the holidays there were numerous news stories about travellers being unable to get refunds when cancelling reservations due to fears about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 or being stranded at the border waiting on PCR tests from overwhelmed labs.
Travelling at any time comes with risk, but over the past two years the overriding theme has been that all plans are firm until they’re not. It’s understandable, especially at this time of the year, that Canadians are anxious to get home for the holidays or to escape the dreary winter weather. If you have accepted the risks to travel while COVID-19 is still considered a pandemic, then it’s hard for those who hunkered down at home (or close to it) to feel sorry for anyone stuck in limbo at the border for a couple of extra days. The rules didn’t change suddenly like they did in early 2020. There was a reasonable expectation that the coronavirus could still impact travel and now it has. Cross-border travel plans should account for contingencies such as test delays, positive results and flight cancellations. – DS
‘That’ kind of literacy
As a New Year’s gift to the sane-thinking people of the world, Twitter permanently suspended the account of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia representative, for repeatedly spreading misinformation.
It’s easy to say that either Greene or the fact that we have to deplatform elected officials is the problem, but the real problem is the lack of media literacy that has allowed people like Greene to flourish. (She had over 465,000 followers at the time of her suspension.) As the internet and social media have turned anyone with internet access into a doctor, scientist, journalist or infectious diseases expert in their own mind, millions of people have been eager to seek out convenient “truths” to align with their opinions whenever the need arises. This has led to an increased push for media literacy to be taught in schools as information is more available and more compromised than ever.
In Hong Kong, the Chinese government is cracking down on media outlets that don’t toe the party line - an affront to media freedom in that country and around the world. Media literacy helps people know when they’re being lied to and where to turn for accurate, unbiased information. Even in The Citizen it’s important to understand what’s being reported, who is saying what, and why. In a story late last year, for example, this newspaper quoted someone from a council meeting calling those who rent property, rather than owning it, “crazier people”. This, of course, is not the view of the newspaper, or the story’s author, but of the person who said it. Don’t kill the messenger, as they say.
Accurate, clear and unbiased journalism is only of value to those who can discern between the true and untrue. And at a time when any website can publish anything, all things cannot be true. – SL
Step by step
While Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s announcement earlier this week undoubtedly had an impact on parents, businesses and everyone else connected to students, it was just the latest in a sequence of decisions and backtracking from the provincial government that has left many scratching their heads.
On Monday, Ford announced the province would be going back to a modified “Step 2” of the province’s Roadmap to Reopening and instituting “time-limited measures” to “blunt the impact” of the Omicron variant on the healthcare system. Part of that was to announce schools would go to remote learning as of Wednesday of this week, with students possibly returning to school as early as Jan. 17.
Before this announcement, parents were told they needed to make arrangements for students to be home for two days - Jan. 3 and 4 - which would help curb the spread of COVID-19. Many questioned what difference two days would make, especially given that traditional knowledge has patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 isolating for two weeks (meaning anyone exposed at Christmas would need to be isolated until Jan. 8 at the earliest).
This is further compounded by the provincial government’s decisions to limit testing opportunities for COVID-19 and prevent school boards from reporting outbreaks and cases, both of which could be seen as a thinly-veiled attempt to artificially lower case counts and prevent the public from knowing about dangerous situations in public institutions.
The world is coming up on two years of dealing with COVID-19 and its various variants, however, these kinds of moves make it seem like the provincial government has learned nothing at all from all the hardships of early 2020 and beyond.
While no one expects the provincial government to have a crystal ball and know about new variants and their impact, what we need is forecasting and forward thinking, not last-minute, knee-jerk reactions and flip-flopping on crucial issues. – JDS