In Ontario, we are now in the frying pan. The Ford government has tried to turn down the heat. But they have refused to take the pan off the stove. The Toronto Star's editorial page points to the Fordian lack of focus:
Public health experts have been warning of something like this since at least mid-February, and the alarms got louder and louder with every passing week. Yet the government kept doing the least it thought it could get away with, until Premier Doug Ford himself admitted on Friday that “we’re losing the battle” and imposed even tighter restrictions.
More to the point, it’s now clear Ontario has no effective plan to deal with the actual sources of the third wave — so-called hotspot areas and big workplaces that have seen outbreaks involving hundreds of people.
The government recognizes the problem, at least in words. On Friday, Ford said the province plans to increase vaccine doses going to those hotspots by 25 per cent, although as usual details on how that will be done were scant.
But if, as the premier said, 80 per cent of COVID cases are coming from just 20 per cent of the province, why not send a much greater share of available vaccines to those areas? Like, say, 80 per cent? Ford called what’s happening in those hard-hit areas an “inferno” — so why not turn the fire hoses directly on the heart of the blaze?
Of course, that would mean diverting limited vaccine supplies away from other regions. It would be politically hard to tell those regions they must wait, that their 60- and 70-year-olds won’t get their jabs as quickly as promised.
But it would be the right thing to do if the province is serious about choking off the third wave. There’s no point in telling everyone to stay home when the pandemic is being fuelled by people who have to leave home simply to feed their families.
All of this is obvious; even the government acknowledges the reality. It just doesn’t have a coherent plan to do anything about it.
Such a plan would pay some people in the hardest-hit workplaces to stay home until the COVID numbers stop rising. That would be cheaper than shutting down the entire province.
And, of course, paid sick leave. It’s incomprehensible that Ford is still digging in his heels on that, fobbing off critics on a federal program that falls far short of what’s needed. The premier needs to come to his senses on that.
But that kind of policy is anathema to conservatives. Ford is caught in a box of his own making. And he can't find a way out of it.