Premier Doug Ford: A Man Without a Plan

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 3rd, 2020



Haven’t we seen this movie before? The eagerness to open up the economy before the virus was properly contained has returned us to where we were back half a year ago. In fact worse. We have already exceeded the record of infections we saw last spring. Does that mean the long months of lock down were all in vain?

Who is running this ship anyway ? Dare I say… this was, of course, entirely predictable. And now we’re expected to top 1000 cases in a of couple weeks. But we really have no idea, since the virus is exponential and there are lags between exposure and symptoms… and well… who knows?

body bag +

Infections have reached 1000 a day in Quebec. Deaths have also increased.

Quebec has already beat us to the 1000 cases a day, by the way. Yet it was barely three months ago that Premier Legault was so convinced he’d beat the virus to the ground that he opened up provincial restaurants and bars and invited customers in – Bon Appétit. And now he has had to shut them all down.

Earlier this week on the very day that Ontario hit its highest level of infections ever, 700 cases, casinos in the province were allowed to reopen. And still the Premier thinks he is smarter than the virus – that he can outmaneuver it, surgically control it, micro-mange and fine tune how we live our lives to constrain it – rather than doing what his neighbouring province has had to do.

We are all waiting for a vaccine to save us – something we expect to have by early next year. So one has to ask – why not sit tight and wait? Oh sure we need money to live by – but the feds have the printing presses primed – and most of us are doing better than ever if we consider the amazing growth we’ve seen in personal savings.

COVID is the viral disease making all this fuss, but this is also an economic and social crisis of historical importance.

Provincial gross domestic product (GDP) suffered its greatest loss ever. This is entirely attributable to measures we’ve taken to flatten the curve (of infections). And were it not for the federal government doling out cash we’d be in big trouble. Ontario lost over a million jobs during the June to August period.

restaurant indoor

Restaurants are taking the biggest hit – and there doesn’t appear to b a solution for them in the near term.

While just about every sector had been affected by the epidemic, entertainment, travel and hospitality were the hardest hit. These are the business activities where viral spread is hardest to control. Hospitality and tourism make up about 4% of provincial GDP generating over $22 billion in sales in a normal year. Together with restaurants there are over 11,000 establishments across the province.

Ford - dumb thoughtful

If the virus gets even worse, the Premier knows he’ll have no choice but to lock them down again.

And that is the dilemma facing the Premier. If the virus gets even worse, he knows he’ll have no choice but to lock them down again – when hospitals get overloaded and more seniors start dying he won’t be able to pretend that his surgical blade can do the impossible. He’s already getting flack from health experts demanding more lockdown and that he fire his chief medical officer.

It’s not easy being a man without a plan. And it’s clear the Premier is making it up as he goes along. Every new daily briefing brings some new direction, which may conflict with the one from the previous day. And while he can predict we’ll have a thousand new cases a day by mid-October, he can’t tell you what we’ll be doing about it.

And the mixed messaging is not only causing confusion but also social unrest. There have already been some protests over masking. And we see normal law abiding folks, who mostly observed the earlier restrictions on public and private gatherings choosing to ignore them now. Indeed when Ford himself ignores his own rules as he has done on occasion – why not? He is supposed to set an example, after all.

public interest - enough

The public reaches a point where they don’t want to co-operate.

Civil rights organizations have also taken up the question of the constitutionality of lockdowns, restrictions and bubbles – though the courts so far have weighed on the side of public interest over individual rights. But if protesters can demonstrate that government is not doing a good job at protecting them anyway – that may all change.

And there is a lot of evidence. Accountability for failure to protect the lives of long term care residents, by actions before and after the lockdowns is still on the back burner. Failure to prepare for the safe re-opening of schools. The inconsistency of restrictions. Inability to successfully execute a test and trace program. And of course the decision to re-open the economy when the Premier anticipated increased case loads as a result.

But the premier has to weigh the economic benefits of allowing these sectors to remain open against the potential economic consequences of another major lock down. He has to worry about employment and GDP and the provincial budget deficit which is forecast to hit some $40 billion, but likely will be much higher.

And of course there is scheduled to be a provincial election at the beginning of June 2022.  After all, for a man claiming to be a deficit killer and opposed to tax increases and raising more debt, he is faced with tumbling provincial revenues and hugely increased provincial expenditures. And then there is the matter of the health of the all the people.

vaccine - waiting

The vaccine may not turn out to be the solution – despite the amount being spent.

As we wait for a solution to the epidemic, either a viable vaccine or for the virus to miraculously die off on its own, as SARS did, the Premier has to balance the health and lives of Ontario folks against the economic costs of coping with the economic fallout from the virus.

So the question is whether his surgical talents will successfully constrain the contagion – or whether we are headed for a deja vu.

Rivers in maskRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial matters as well as environmental issues. He has degrees in economics and was the founder of the Sustainability Advisory Committee in Burlington. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Background links:

Mixed Messages –    Ontario Peaks –    Testing

Australia vs Sweden –   Long Term Care –  

More Long Term Care –   Savings Rate –    Ontario Job Loss –   

Confusion –    Ontario Deficit

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5 comments to Premier Doug Ford: A Man Without a Plan

  • Ray Rivers

    Anne and David – Thanks – I should have used 2022 instead of next year. Don’t we all wish this year was over? Thanks for the historical information on JBG.

    • No problem Ray – we all do it – and yes we would all like to see the end of this pandemic. However, good can come out of every bad situation and it was well past the time our handling of infectious disease and seniors/vulnerable care was properly scrutinized. Since posting the historical information on JBH and directing people to the ALERTS PAGE on our website our site has become inaccesible to us. Apologies for anyone trying to reach it as we work with our web site experts (which we are not) to get it back up as soon as possible. Stay safe.

  • Ray, correct us if we are wrong but it was our understanding that the next Ontario election is June 2022 and not as indicated in this Burlington Gazette article, 2021. “And of course there is scheduled to be a provincial election at the beginning of June next year.“ Perhaps you are looking through red tinted glasses that distort your views. If Doug Ford had not had a plan, and a good one at that, the following would not be in place:

    Every LTC has a two months’ supply of PPE

    Family caregiver LTC (which may well become congregant care home) teams have been put in place that stay in place during outbreaks. These family caregiver teams are the eyes and ears of the community and have been put in place to prevent isolation and the inevitable feelings of abandonment that can cause more damage than the coronavirus.

    Ontario businesses have retooled at Ford’s urging to ensure Ontario and Canada are not dependent on China for either supplies or the quality of such supplies.

    At a time when federal politics could not get any worse Ford has encouraged all across Canada to pull together to ensure the feds step up to the plate and take responsibility for disgraceful standards of care across Canada for our seniors and those with disabilities .Not perfect yet by a long shot but Ford had no more training in dealing with pandemics in the health care mess most of us know he inherited than you Ray; but thank God, he is our Premier not you or us.

    He has also ensured he left municipalities with the powers to do things their way when they wished to as some are better at this than others but was willing to say when he disagreed with what they were doing.

    To name just a few parts of his plan.

    Your reference to SARS miraculously dying out on its own as if it was in any way a comparator to COVID-19 tells it as it is. There is no comparison in terms of number of deaths in Ontario – SARS after being dismissed as over by the provincial government, when it wasn’t, ended up killing 44 Ontarians in 2002 and 2003.

    That being said a statistics check today reveals we have had 25 deaths in Halton during the pandemic thus far. However, the record for deaths from health care facility infectious disease outbreaks in Ontario since 2006 has been held by Burlington. 91+ average age 70 died after contracting C-Difficile beginning in Spring of 2006 and ending December 31, 2007. It is highly unlikely that any of these patients (except those coming from LTCs) would have contracted C-Difficile if they had not sought help for their unrelated health care issues from Joseph Brant. Until late January 2007 not one patient was alerted to the fact that a killer disease was running rampant at the hospital that could take their lives. There are those who went in for a shoulder injury or a knee replacement who came out in a body bag. It is the law in Canada that informed consent must be obtained for any treatment in or out of hospital. Up until January, 2007 there was no informed consent for treatment at JBH in terms of the C-Difficile risk no matter what the treatment was.

    Premier McGuinty refused to hold the investigation those like Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, John Tory, Elizabeth Witmer, MPP Joyce Savoline, the media and multiple local families and health care advocates were calling for. The Office of the Chief Coroner, the Board of Governors of JBH that included Mayor McIsaac (now CEO at a huge Hamilton hospital) looked the other way when the evidence of the outbreak was right in front of their faces that there was a deathly outbreak running its course and threw their doors open to patients looking for care without any suggestion that those who entered were risking their lives. A multi-death investigation for JBH victims of the far too frequent episodes of diarrhoea associated with C-Diff that is known to kill the frail/elderly was opened and immediately buried by the OCCO, where it still remains. We are hopeful that Premier Ford will when he has time to think about it when he has a break from putting out burning pandemic fires will ensure the lessons to be learnt and the accountability that must occur for these well evidenced Burlington homicides, happens. When this eventually occurs, as it must, Ontarians will be shocked at what the Ontario, Burlington and Halton governments et al have knowingly ensured remains buried even today. For more information on the buried death investigation, see ALERTS page.

  • Rob n

    Not only confusion at the provincial level, but also at the regional and city level.

    For example, there are restrictions on the number of people allowed in to the massive conservation areas. However, there are no restrictions on the number of people allowed at the Comparatively small Spencer Smith Park. Why the discrepancy?

    When I see my friends, Who are from all layers of the economic spectrum, balking at the mixed messaging, the people making the decisions better think them through and ensure they are aligned. Otherwise all this effort over the past six months will have been For naught.

    Granted, this is a ‘different’ environment for the Vast majority of people. New learnings about the disease are being made on a daily basis. But the playbook on building consensus and ensuring everybody is on board has been around for a long time.

    Doug Ford was doing very well in the initial stages. He seems to be slipping now. Restaurants still open, but only six people per table? Down from 10 people per table. Where is the logic in that?

    Burlington and Halton councillors would do well to ensure their messaging is aligned.

    Tough position to be in. Be guided by science, not economics.

  • Excellent and balanced. But pardon me, aren’t casinos places where people go to gamble? Betting the house payment or the child’s college education pales in comparison to the thrill of betting one’s life.