The Inspectors We Have and the Inspectors We Need

The City of Windsor employs 500 sworn officers and approximately 150 staff.

Yet the most pressing need for our region’s safety and well-being are not those kind of inspectors.

We need inspectors who are able to inspect farms in person.

The federal government has conducted mostly remote inspections of Ontario farms that employ migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of physically entering the properties to make sure the labourers’ living conditions are safe.Employment and Social Development Canada, the department responsible for the inspections, told CBC News that over the last four months, all the farms it inspected during the initial 14-day mandatory quarantine period complied with the rules as of June 12.

But the department admitted in most cases, inspectors didn’t actually travel to the farms in question.

“For the safety of everyone involved, the majority of inspections are still being conducted remotely,” the department said in a statement. By some accounts, the inspections are done virtually. CBC News has asked for details on how the remote monitoring is conducted, but so far, the department has not provided details.

“Ottawa ‘remotely’ inspected Ontario farms while COVID-19 infected hundreds of migrant workers”, Lisa Xing · CBC News · Posted: Jul 01, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: July 1

We need inspectors of our long-term health care facilities. From the above article above:

Unions also raised concerns when a CBC News investigation found the province was doing inspections of long-term care homes by phone before determining no problems existed. So far, about 70 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths have been residents in long-term care, and many say the virus has shed light on a system that has long failed them. 

There is a terrible disconnect between what we have long-known as a problem with long-term care and our collective non-response. As I was reminded by this article from Policy Options, it was only 2017 that there was a Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in Long-Term Care Homes System (spurred by the case of a nurse-turned-serial killer in Woodstock). Had our governments followed those recommendations three years ago, I think it’s fairly safe to assume there would have been fewer deaths from COVID-19 in Ontario.

But here we are.

I know members of the police force think that they are most maligned group of good people who are only trying to do their job, but frankly, I don’t buy it. Do you know who has it worse off? Your humble public servant whose job is to enforce the rules that are set down after every tragedy and eroded and ignored until the next tragedy strikes. I can’t think of another line of work in which it is the norm for their own organization’s (elected) leadership make it a point of to routinely publicly call out their employee’s work as wasteful, ignorant, filled with red tape, and then regularly undermine them for short-term political gain.

Speaking of which, the Mayor of Windsor, continues to undermine the work of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

(Let’s not forget that cohorts after cohort of Windsor City Council underfunded our Health Unit so those politicians could tout zero-tax increases which left us the lowest funded public health unit in all of Ontario. Just in time for a pandemic. )

I support our medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed and the other members and staff of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Politicians at every level of government have left us vulnerable during this time of COVID-19. Let’s support the inspectors who keep us safe.