Weeknote 1, 2021

§1: Partisanship is hazardous to our health

In a better world, all of our levels of government would work together to contain COVID-19 and protect lives.

But we live in Windsor, Ontario where the Mayor and the Head of Windsor’s Regional Hospital are more than happy to criticize the Federal Government’s work in supplying vaccines for COVID-19 and remain completely silent on matters that the province is responsible for.

According to journalist Dale Smith, this line of complaint is a Ford-talking point. From his January 9th Round-up:

As for the blame-shifting, Ford (along with a couple of other premiers) are howling that they’re running out of vaccines, after the slow roll-out – so slow that Ontario is already starting to give people their second doses. But, running out of vaccines is a good thing, because it means they’re going into arms. And more to the point, he knows that there are thousands of more Pfizer doses coming next week, the week after, and then again, the week after that, plus another bulk shipment of Moderna vaccines – and deliveries are expected to scale up further in February. They know this. This has been communicated for a while now, but he’s trying to deflect the attention to Trudeau once again to divert away from his own incompetence. (And apparently there were some hurt feelings among the premiers during Thursday’s first ministers meeting because Trudeau dared to criticize the provinces for their role in the slow roll-out. The poor dears).

For those just tuning in, examples of Ford’s incompetence in protecting Ontario residents from COVID-19 include:

  • putting the province into ‘lock-down lite’ the day after Christmas
  • not addressing the continued spread of COVID-19 through tighter controls at workplaces that not affected by the lockdown such as manufacturing, construction sites, warehouses, and agri-farms
  • not restoring sick days cut by the Ford government in 2018 so that those with COVID-19 symptoms don’t have to lose their income to stay home
  • allocating less money to LTCs in the Ontario Budget than last year
  • confusing lines of command by introducing a vaccine distribution task-force on December 4th with no nurses or family doctors represented

More troubling was another article that came out on January 7th in which The Windsor Star lets an unnamed source take pot-shots at Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

(“We can walk and chew gum at the same time, right?” Who is this asshat?)

This all very much reminds me of when David Musyj of the Windsor Regional Hospital was livid because the Health Unit was concentrating on distributing PPE to Long-term health care facilities instead of engaging in mass COVID-19 testing. Just as it is now, this was a story about non-public complaints that made it to the media via some mysterious, un-named source. (By the way, our Health Unit made the right call).

It is the job of the medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to lead the direction of the COVID-19 vaccination program. Breaking ranks from their direction holds consequences. And those consequences arrived the next day:

“I am disturbed by the fact that with the limited supply of vaccine, we are throwing away the prioritization and are completely ignoring the ethical framework that is provided to all of us,” Ahmed said during the local health unit’s morning news conference.

Some local health-care workers have complained to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit that some individuals receiving the vaccine do not work with patients at all, or work with patients very minimally, he said. He’s also heard that some “executives” and “leadership team members” have already received the vaccine, though he wouldn’t provide names.

Windsor-Essex hospitals facing backlash for offering vaccine to managers and executives, CBC News, January 8, 2021

Now I want to be very careful how I say this. I’m not saying that the CEO of Windsor Regional hospital broke ranks with the health unit and distributed doses to staff who are not in contact with patients as a means to use up all the vaccines as soon as possible with the explicit purpose of providing political cover for Doug Ford.

I’m just saying, the actions give this appearance to others in the province.

By breaking the ethical vaccine distribution framework that was established by the province, Windsor has demoralized front-line workers who are still waiting for their doses:

Those in leadership positions should have noticed the massive outcry against the Christmas tropical island travel vacations of the Ontario Finance Minister (approved by Doug Ford) and the hospital CEO on the Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force and saw that the anger generated from these two leaders was much greater than say, the anger generated by learning that some of our Ontario’s LTCs are in utter shambles.

Public trust has been lost. It has to be earned back:

The correct way to respond to a low-trust environment is not to double down on proceduralism, but to commit yourself to the “it does exactly what it says on the tin” principle and implement policies that have the following characteristics:

– It’s easy for everyone, whether they agree with you or disagree with you, to understand what it is you say you are doing.

– It’s easy for everyone to see whether or not you are, in fact, doing what you said you would do.

– It’s easy for you and your team to meet the goal of doing the thing that you said you would do.

Making policy for a low-trust world, January 6, 2021, Slow Boring

It is essential that the local leadership in healthcare stop the infighting. If the matter is related to public health, then they should take direction from from our public health unit.

Dr. Ahmed and his team have my trust.

We in Windsor-Essex have been exceedingly fortunate to have a health unit who has repeatedly gone beyond provincial directives to keep us safer.

§2: The Mayor Hates The Free Market

Speaking of wasting precious energy and attention by pointing figures at other governments, I have lost count of the number of Facebook posts that Mayor Drew Dilkens has made in trying garner more signatures for a petition to the Federal government to protect air traffic control from Windsor’s airport after Nav Canada has put the service under review.

This is your periodic reminder that Nav Canada is a privatized owner and operator of the country’s civil air navigation system and as such are not obliged to run services that don’t make business sense to them.

§3: More please: Hospitals helping LTCs

You know what I think is an under-reported story? I think the work of Hotel Dieu Grace staff who took over some key operations at The Village at St. Clair in Windsor on Dec. 24 when it was struggling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the area is worthy of more recognition. According to the CBC News story, the hospital will be transitioning out of the Village next week and will be assisting Kingsville retirement home Augustine Villas next.

I don’t know Janice Kaffer, the President and CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace, but I love the leadership that she displays on her social media. Here’s a sample:

§4: “Anyone fortunate enough to have a street named after them deserves the dignity to have their name spelled properly!”

It’s been over six months since the Black Lives Matters protests filled streets around the world. It’s been over six months since the Mayor’s office surveyed the community “to hear and listen to important issues, and understand how to help drive out racism from society” and promised next steps. What have those next steps been?

Is it time yet for Windsor to confront our history and ongoing practice of honouring slave owners?

Or nah?

§5: When the people who espouse”personal responsibility” tell lies to absolve their responsibility

I’m not going to comment about the January 6th mayhem in the U.S. Capitol but I do want to say something related to Trump supporters that does come back to local politics. Before I do, I want to you to read this twitter thread so you can properly understand the context of this particular point:

Did Trump supporters really believe that Obama was born in Kenya? No. Most of them did not. Like Gene, they will never admit this because the ruse was used to cover up people’s refusal to give legitimacy to a presidency that they did not want to accept. Fast-forward to the most recent U.S. election. Do Trump supporters really believe that there was widespread voter fraud orchestrated by their Democratic opponents in 2020? No. But the lie gives them cover to engage in blatant forms of voter suppression towards Black Americans without admitting that this is the activity that they are engaging in.

It’s something to keep in mind when you hear a Trump supporter refuses to concede the 2020 U.S. Election to Biden just as the president of the Windsor-West Electoral District Association for the Progressive Conservatives did on December 15th, 2020.