Weeknote Dec 1 – 7 2020

§1

I was planning to write a long complaint of stories tied together with a common theme of ‘the Ford government is outsourcing the pandemic response” including the story of how the government hired the McKinsey “Proposed Paying Pharmacy Companies Rebates for OxyContin Overdoses” Consulting Group.

But instead, I think everyone would be better served by reading this explainer by John Michael McGrath called, Emergency unpreparedness: How government failures shaped Ontario’s COVID-19 response. Here’s a key excerpt:

That report, and the ones released this week, outline years of neglect. It would be one thing if Lysyk had said that Ontario isn’t meeting best practices, but she demonstrates that the province has been failing at the basics, like keeping emergency plans up to date. Astonishingly, the province had not one but four plans relevant to COVID-19, but two of them hadn’t been updated since 2013 — and made references to defunct positions and ministries that had since been renamed. The government was supposed to review and update its emergency plans annually; the Liberals set that benchmark, but both they and Tories failed to meet it.

The fact that Ontario’s emergency planning was so out of date led the government (wisely or not) to sign a contract with a private consultant to create a brand-new command structure to handle the pandemic. According to Lysyk, it quickly became bloated and unwieldly. And Ontario’s 444 municipalities had all trained for their own emergency personnel to interact with the province in a clear, structured format through EMO; the creation of a new separate system of “command tables” and “health tables” threw a wrench in basic communications — an avoidable own-goal.

This isn’t about both-sides-ing. It’s about trying to identify a deeper syndrome in Ontario that sees governments consistently under-invest in basic, core functions of government — whether that’s quality data collection or emergency preparedness — while they lavish billions of dollars on higher-profile priorities. The solution isn’t clear, unfortunately: voters tend not to punish governments for failing to invest in the basics.

Personally, I’m not going to be spending much attention on the vaccine rollout because I think the Conservative provincial government will use it as a way to blame the federal Liberal government as a means to deflect from its own non-response for our more immediate and frankly dire needs.

That being said, I predict an flood of think-pieces of ‘who should get the vaccine first’. I hope our teachers and education workers are near the front of the list, because our children will not be able to be vaccinated against COVID19 anytime soon.


§2

On Monday, December 7th, I will taking part of the Day of Mourning that is being arranged by University of Windsor group, RAACES.

While 2020 will be remembered for a great many things, history will duly note that the Black Lives Matters Movement was the largest in US history with protests around the globe, including Windsor.

§3

Tomorrow at 10:30 am is City Council. I had planned to do a proper reading of the Development Charges Background Study but I couldn’t manage to do it.

How I wish Windsor had a it’s own City Hall Watcher newsletter that I could chip in a small amount of bucks a month to help support. I wish a journalism student from the college or the U would try to take it on, and then if they leave, pass it on to another.