Michael Mantha’s News from the Park for 210122

I’m not one to watch a lot of television and I really don’t have many celebrities that I follow or admire.  But there is one popular fellow, and a Canadian at that, who I do like.  And it is specifically because of what he says and does.  He’s not an actor or sports hero but rather just a common guy who has worked his way up in life just by “doing things right.”  With that small clue you may have figured out I’m talking about Mike Holmes, the central figure of several television spin offs produced by Make it Right Productions.

For the life of me, I find it almost impossible to argue with Holmes philosophy on doing things right.  If you do things right the first time, there is no need to do it all over or fix it later.  In truth, it is actually more cost efficient and effective to do things right the first time.

This week our NDP caucus had a virtual meeting to get updates on the current pandemic situation and discuss various proposals on how we can help Ontarians get through this ordeal healthy and unscathed.  It was after this meeting that it occurred to me that Doug Ford and his government would do well to heed Mike Holmes’ advice.  “Do it right – the first time.”  I say this because after looking at the current trends and direction things are going, it seems clear that all along and even now, Doug Ford chooses half measures.  He has a record of listening to lobbyists, insiders and friends and ignoring the solid advice of health experts which is based on scientifically supported data.

Every Ontarian must do their part to stop the spread of COVID, but our efforts are for naught if the Ford government continues to withhold meaningful supports, and instead only offers a stay-at-home order rife with contradictory loopholes and exemptions.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, Doug Ford must make this lockdown count.  By now, all Ontarians know well what the government is doing – or not doing – to try to stave off this growing pandemic.  There’s no evidence that the latest lockdown order released is any different from weeks previous — it’s a half-measure, under which people decide for themselves what’s essential, and thousands more people get sick every day.

The truth is, however, we are not totally at the mercy of this virus.  There are definite steps that can be taken, provided that the government has the will to step up and do the job — right.

For one thing, we need to provide sick pay for working Ontarians.  For countless essential workers, calling in sick means their family will go to bed hungry.  They just can’t afford to miss shifts.  Doug Ford cut Ontario’s two measly paid sick days and now refuses to give Ontarians any paid sick days during COVID-19, because he doesn’t want to spend more on us, the everyday working people who make this province run.

In a recent COVID-19 modelling update, Dr. Barbara Yaffe and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown could not have been clearer.  These health specialists told Ontarians that without paid sick days and supports for workers, it would not be possible to control the virus.  How much clearer can a message be?

The NDP has laid out many proposals for the government to follow that would be highly effective in getting us all through this situation.  The NDP has proposed plans such as implementing paid sick leave, paying small business owners when they pause operations, opening more self-isolation centres, banning all evictions, restricting non-essential travel between regions, and send more testing and tracing capacity right into workplaces and hot-spot neighbourhoods.  We also firmly believe that we can and must recruit thousands of long-term care workers with higher wages and on-the-job training, like British Columbia and Quebec did.

And what is the government doing to protect those who are there day after day to protect us?  The Ford government must provide paid sick days and presumptive WSIB coverage for frontline workers during the pandemic, after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) revealed that paramedics in some regions are being denied WSIB claims despite being exposed to COVID-19 while on the job.  Some are getting sick because of their job.  They are working on the front line to protect us.  The least we can do is to guarantee they’ll have paid sick days and be covered by WSIB if they are exposed to the virus.  Our paramedics, and every health care worker in this province, should have presumptive coverage and should never be forced to prove they contracted COVID-19 on the job.

This is no time for the government to just sit on their hands as the date for in class education looms.  We should have better, more effective plans in place already.  It’s not enough to just reopen schools.  We can’t repeat the mistakes of the last few months.  Don’t just reopen schools; make them safe to open.  The NDP has proposed having a robust in-school COVID-19 testing program in place before students and staff return.  We need to cap class sizes at 15 and work right now to improve ventilation – not years from now.  And we say give parents paid family-care days to stay home with kids that are sick, so they don’t unintentionally send a child with the virus to school because they can’t afford to stay home with them.

We need to improve vaccine distribution and get it to the most vulnerable Ontarians in long-term care and congregate settings across the province much faster.  Doug Ford can’t just sit back and wait for the vaccine to save us to avoid spending on the help we need now.  That just is not going to work.

Doug Ford is sitting on a nest of money provided by the federal government months ago that should be used now – to “Do it right – the first time.”  It is not only inefficient and costly to save money to spend later knowing that it will cost money down the road to fix things up because the pandemic was prolonged by Ford’s inaction and penny pinching.

Author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, “They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts.  Their measures are half measures and makeshifts merely.”

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters.  You can reach my constituency office by email at mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin

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