Updated: Dec 31, 2020
By: Gabriella Maddalena
With Covid-19 cases on the rise, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has initiated a province-wide lockdown starting December 26th. The province has seen over 2000 cases a day and numbers have been on a constant rise since the start of the second wave. However, Ford’s approach to handling the pandemic has been everything short of fantastic.
Ford was reluctant to say he would lock down the entire province again, prioritizing the economy over his people. Instead, he first initiated a “zone to zone” lockdown approach, modeled after the Quebec approach to the lockdown.
However, when meeting with the Quebec Premier Francois Legault, he told Ford that this system did not work as Quebec had already entered a province-wide lockdown. Despite being told it was ineffective, Ford decides to use this system anyway to avoid having to shut down the entire province. Hot spot areas like Toronto were in lockdown where malls, restaurants, and indoor visitors to other households were prohibited. Yet, Ford left schools open in these lockdown areas.
Schools have been a source of spreading this virus at a high rate. 7000 cases across the provinces have been reported from schools, and that’s only accounting for the actual students who contracted the virus. Each of those 7000 students have come into contact with their household, and the spreading cycle continues when their families leave their homes. Keeping schools open in a lockdown zone is irresponsible and ineffective.
Another flaw Ontarians saw with the zone to zone lockdowns, was that there was no stopping people in lockdown zones from traveling to other surrounding areas that were open. The city of Hamilton’s cases spiked due to Torontonians driving 45 minutes for shopping purposes, dates, or anything they couldn’t do within their city. There was no way to stop people from leaving their lockdown zone, and no fines were enforced for breaking lockdown.
This pattern followed for so long, CF Limeridge Mall in Hamilton extended their holiday hours to accommodate the shoppers traveling the locked down Toronto area. Despite being in lockdown, Toronto consistently reports over 600 covid cases per day. The city alone is responsible for 55,949 cases. Having no repercussions for breaking lockdown from the provincial government shows a lack of accountability from this government.
Since the zone to zone was ineffective, the Ford government has issued a strict province-wide lockdown for 28 days starting December 26th. This new lockdown puts the entire province into the “grey” zone on the Covid-19 restriction scale, and all non-essential services are closed. Most essential businesses, aside from pharmacies and grocery stores have all moved to curbside pick-up only, the government issued a “work from home” mandate to companies across the province to slow the number of people working indoors at offices. Child Care once again remains open, but many students will be off an extra week once Winter Break is over. Indoor events and gatherings are prohibited under this lockdown, and restaurants have been restricted to take-out only.
Parts of Ontario, such as Ottawa, claim to be blindsided by these new lockdown restrictions. As I stated before, Ford was hesitant to enforce a lockdown, and the parts of Ontario where Covid cases aren’t bad feel like the restrictions are unfair. One thing Ford has done well is to create modified restrictions for the cities that have done a good job of containing the spread of the virus. Ottawa however, despite that its numbers have decreased drastically, will face a strict lockdown much like the rest of Southern Ontario to combat any Quebec residents from traveling across the border to Ottawa. This is exactly what he lacked doing in other aspects of the province, which could have prevented the drastic numbers of Ontario cases.
One thing on the minds of Ontarians will be how well this lockdown is enforced. Based on the lack of repercussions from the initial zone to zone lockdowns, and the lack of accountability, how tough will the government be during this lockdown? Will they be upping the fines? Will they enforce these fines? It’s hard to say with this government since they didn’t do so during the initial lockdown back in March.
It took Doug Ford 3 months to finally enforce a province-wide lockdown, after hospitals being in trouble dealing with outbreaks all across the province, schools being infected, and the total number of cases skyrocketed. This province-wide lockdown should have happened as soon as cases got high. Ford’s lack of action throughout this pandemic has only put Ontario in a worse position. The province was already struggling due to healthcare funding cuts from this same government, so maybe Ontarians should’ve excepted this conservative government to continue to value the economy over the wellbeing of the people.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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