Good for the goose and the gander - Denny Scott editorial
When I was in public school, I had a teacher who was fond of the saying, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” The teacher didn’t use it in the sense that some people do, which is to say what’s good for a man is good for a woman, but in the more general sense that, if two people are in a similar enough situation, they should be treated and act similarly.
It’s a good rule, I’ve always found, and one our federal and provincial governments should probably remember. The importance of it became especially apparent over the last few weeks, during which the provincial government has been shown to treat people in similar situations very differently.
It was first brought up by North Huron Township Councillor Kevin Falconer who pointed out the disparity in vaccine requirements between North Huron staff and the people using North Huron facilities. At the time, Falconer was saying it didn’t make sense for North Huron Council to enact a “recommendation for vaccination” in its vaccine policy (which actually contains more of a softly-worded suggestion than any kind of requirement) because that would mean staff working at North Huron facilities could go unvaccinated, and those same staff would then have to make sure visitors to the facilities are vaccinated. It’s a double standard.
I could write, at length, about how North Huron Council has a duty to protect its residents by making sure the municipality’s staff members are vaccinated, but something so important, so crucial to the health of the province and the country, never should have been left in the hands of municipal councillors. Unless a council happens to have a medical doctor on staff or one who is a council member (neither of which I’ve seen in over a decade) then councils aren’t positioned to make these kinds of decisions.
They should be made by our federal or provincial leaders and, thus far, they’re doing a pretty poor job of it. The province mandated that anyone visiting a community centre for recreational purposes (the goose) needs to be vaccinated, so why aren’t the people working there (the gander) subject to the same rules?
Now, before we get a bunch of misinformed letters asking how I can support vaccination, this isn’t about whether people are vaccinated or not: it’s about treating people on both sides of the counter the same way.
I’m in favour of vaccination, yes, because the arguments against it don’t hold water, but that’s not the point here. The point is that people should be treated equally, or else you end up with situations like one that popped up in the news last week.
Avid news readers or those who watch their local news channels likely heard about the substitute teacher in Middlesex who caught COVID-19. The teacher was double vaccinated, so this was a breakthrough case, meaning transmission was less likely than with unvaccinated people, however that substitute teacher was in 14 different classes in the same school.
I’m sympathetic to how difficult it must be to staff any institution right now, especially one where more than half the people there can’t be vaccinated. Finding safe ways for teachers to educate their students on a variety of subjects has likely led to a struggle at the schools. Like I said, I’m sympathetic.
However, I know for a fact that, while school is in session, students are kept with their classmates. They are regulated to specific areas of the playground and prevented from interacting with other classes.
One reason for that is, if there is a COVID-19 case or, worse yet, an outbreak at the school, there is a chance that only one class will be sent home instead of the entire school. It’s done both to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep students in class if the virus is found at the school.
So how is it that a substitute teacher (the goose) is allowed to enter 14 different classrooms while students (the gander) are only allowed to be in one class with their peers?
I’m not going to be unreasonable here and say that every teacher should only be in contact with one class. I’m sure that’s not feasible under the current rules and contracts that teachers work under, however to have one person travel between 14 different classes, even one that wasn’t COVID-19 positive, seems to be inviting disaster.
These examples prove our federal and provincial governments need to step up and come up with comprehensive, sensible rules instead of leaving it to other organizations like municipalities and health units to patch it together. Otherwise, we’re left with the mess we’re dealing with, which doesn’t see everyone treated equally.