I have resisted writing since school started in January thinking, perhaps just hoping, we might see the Government and the PHO make some sensible changes to their approach to the pandemic. To suggest I have been disappointed would be an understatement. I have now reached the state of moral outrage and I believe it is time when all of us should also be morally outraged at the treatment we are receiving at the hands of this Government, especially the way school staffs have been treated.
What am I outraged about? I am outraged that our Premier and PHO believe that if they provided more data on schools that hysteria would abound. How can we accept such an outrageous comment from the elected leader of our province? The history of the use of the term ‘hysteria’ and the fact that over seventy percent of school staffs are female make this comment even more egregious. School staffs have a right to be informed and taking the current approach only leads to distrust and unnecessary fear. It assumes staffs are incapable of dealing with reality and that assumption is completely unwarranted. So far schools, operating under ridiculous conditions, have enabled our economy and our communities to function under some degree of normality. The staff have operated under conditions the politicians will not even operate in their own legislature. To be accused of being incapable of handling data about their own work environment is utterly demeaning, This Premier should be ashamed and should apologize.
I am also morally outraged at the state of testing in this province. We have consistently had one of the lowest rates of testing in the country. Our PHO refuses to deploy rapid testing in our long-term care homes where our citizens continue to be ravaged and the morality rate remains unacceptably high. The excuse, although disputed by reputable epidemiologists, is the test uses too much manpower. How much manpower are these lost lives worth? Her rationale is outrageous, yet we seem content to let our seniors die without offering this ‘layer of protection”!
I am also morally outraged that the PHO refuses to implement asymptomatic testing and even worse tells parents of students who have been exposed to not get them tested. The only possible rationale is that we want to continue to hide what is really happening in our province. A robust testing program is critical to keeping the pandemic under control, yet we seem satisfied with a testing program that is anything but robust. The data being provided in this province is tainted and limited. It is tainted because we encourage people to not get tested and because we pad the numbers with movie industry numbers. It is limited by our own actions of restricting the kinds and amount of testing done. It is also limited because of what is not reported such as how many cases of the South African variant exist or how many teachers have contracted Covid-19. I am outraged, as we all should be, that we are being treated like the proverbial mushroom by being kept in the dark and being fed bovine scat!
I am morally outraged that our vaccine schedule seems to vacillate depending upon the day of the week. First, we were going to ensure that our frontline workers would be next in line following those in the hard-hit long-term care homes and indigenous populations. This qualified the PHO for an early vaccine but now that she has been protected the order has changed. Frontline workers have been bumped to put in a new order based upon age. This benefits a retired guy like me, but it is wrong! I can stay in my bubble for a few more months but my son-in-law fireman cannot avoid going to calls where the virus might exist. He needs to be protected before me as does every individual working in hospitals and schools. I can protect myself from unnecessary risk, as I have done for months, but those that are, by the nature of their service, risking their health every day deserve priority. We should all be outraged by this ill-conceived and morally offensive decision.
I continue to be morally outraged by the treatment of our school staffs. Why do we as a community accept that there is no mask mandate in our schools? Why do we accept that social distancing is not require in our schools? If you go anywhere else into a building in the community both are requirements. The first just requires a statement from the PHO and the second a different approach to timetabling. We obviously don’t value the health of our school staffs as we do other front-line workers yet educators are the people who hold the future of our community in hand. It is morally wrong to put teachers and aides in a congested classroom while denying them the protections we have insisted upon in every other workplace. Even worse is that, when it comes to schools, the precautionary principle has been completely abandoned making one wonder if our PHO learned anything from the SARS experience in Toronto.
Sometimes, I wonder if we are not suffering from the hero worship complex. After all we see our PHO’s face on bottles of wine, bottles of barbecue sauce and packages of seeds. Fame is fleeting but the lingering effects from Covid-19 are not---just ask the members of the long haulers club. We need to ask if we have a blind spot regarding those presently making the rules for Covid-19 management. We should be outraged that those frontline workers whom we ask to risk their health daily are not at the front of the line for the vaccine! We should be outraged that our teachers who are forced to work in unsafe conditions every day are not afforded the protections required for every other worker! We should be outraged at our Premier for his demeaning, sexist and insulting comment! We should be outraged at the lack of testing, lack of good data and lack of transparency in this province!
Many have expressed some of the concerns in this blog. Over sixty thousand signed a petition raising the issues of social distancing and a mask mandate in schools. The lack of testing has continually been challenged by the press and the Premiers comment has been universally condemned. None of our leaders seems to pay heed to any of these concerns. The time has come to express our moral outrage. We owe it to those who have passed, we owe it to those who put their health at risk every day to serve us, and we owe it to our community at large. Moral outrage can be a powerful force and is even more so when expressed to our leadership by the masses.
The time for moral outrage in this province is upon us!
Doug Player, January 24, 2021.