Dec. 19, 2020

Government response to pandemic is a disaster

 I’m alright, Jack – is a British expression used to describe those who act only in their own best interests even if assistance to others would necessitate minimal effort on their behalf. That neatly sums up the general attitude of the political class in Canada and, in particular, our Prime Minister.

It is relevant to us going into the Christmas season resplendent with centuries-old traditions of caring and sharing with and for others beyond our immediate families. It’s the time of year when we dig in purses and wallets or write cheques to charities and do our best to aid others less fortunate.

They are members of the forgotten. Many of us have commitments to volunteer and donate to charities and organizations we trust, but most do not.

We have a large swath of our population dependent on welfare, including people with disabilities, lack of education and marketable skills, and a broad range of difficulties far too general to list. Our failing is that governments, on our behalf, have created a welfare industry to help those needing assistance. It is a ridiculous government policy designed to distance politicians from the cries of our most needy. Send them off to the welfare office then and be done with it.

Welfare must be based on the principle that teaching someone to fish will ensure they never go hungry. However, such a welfare system would self-destruct, so the system churns on, ineffective, but employing a growing bureaucracy dependent on the people they fail to help. If you feel you have fallen down a rabbit hole and joined Alice in Wonderland, do not fret; you are sane. The sanity of governments is a different issue.

We have a larger segment of people, perhaps best described as the working poor. Usually hourly paid and with only minimal benefits, they form the backbone of service industries, including those deemed essential workers. They are indispensable and mostly invisible and taken for granted, which is where our approach to COVID-19 containment failed.

Governments did not recognize that they needed to provide generous COVID-related sick leave to allow them to stay home if they or family members felt ill or suffered symptoms of COVID. Without that support, these workers will go to work irrespective of symptoms until they require hospitalization. They have done so for eons, and virus regulations will not change deeply ingrained habits.

Stay at home parents are an exception rather than the rule. Many people considered middle class are there due to dual incomes and are fiscally insecure in that they do not have reserves to enable them to survive an income loss of 90 days or more. Many have had their lives thrown into disarray as one or both incomes have been lost due to shut-downs. Many survive with various COVID related income supplements, but they have no assurance that these inadequate programs will last.

Students are distressed to find that jobs they have traditionally used to offset tuition and other education costs are filled by others thrown out of their regular employment. Competition for any paying job is fierce.

Seniors recognized the dangers of isolation and loneliness decades ago and created activity centres to provide socialization opportunities and services and keep themselves active, engaged, and healthy.  They are told to revert to the isolation that was harming their physical and mental health decades ago, and their efforts to heal themselves are ignored. They will remember.

With all the propaganda we are subjected to daily, one would think that virus regulations limiting social interactions and travel restrictions were working when they are not. Since March 21, there have been over seven million border crossings into Canada.

Many are engaged in essential services and exempt from quarantine regulations – truck drivers, health care workers and others involved in essential services. While they are exempt from having to quarantine on arrival, they are not exempt from the virus. They can be infected and spread the virus to others.

Even more staggering is the policy on foreigners and returning Canadians arriving by air. They are required to quarantine for 14 days at their final destination. Thus if an air traveller comes to an airline hub and uses a second (and possibly a third) flight to get to a final destination, he exposes fellow travellers and persons at airports to virus risk. Only a government can come up something that inane.  

Government response to the coronavirus threat is a series of disasters wrapped in a catastrophe. We must not allow the same politicians to undertake rebuilding the economy they destroyed. We have had enough of an unaccountable Prime Minister Trudeau, aka The Artful Dodger. He has to go before he can inflict more harm and pain.