By Hazar Alsabagh of Sunday Preach in collaboration with Diverge Media.
Folks, this world is so messed up. The only good thing to come out of this pandemic is how exposed the world’s most corrupt governments are, how more aware and present people worldwide are to this corruption, and how available they are to do something about it. People are no longer afraid to stand up against tyranny, corruption and crimes against humanity. We see this in all parts of the world, and while I would love to chat about the world, I will limit myself to Canada, specifically Ontario, where, unlike the world, people are still hitting the snooze button. HALT THE WHATABOUTISMS! Don’t worry; we have a lot to say, and we will take the time to say what needs to be said.
In my last blog post, I highlighted some of the reasons why Ontarians were upset with the Ontario government, particularly our Premier, Doug Ford. I have to say that Ford has demonstrated the most unsatisfactory leadership of all the Premiers this country has seen since Bob Rae (apparently staunch conservatives shudder at the sound of his name). I bet former Premier Kathleen Wynn sits back during Ford’s podium performance with a glass of wine and popcorn, thinking to herself, “Not my circus, not my monkey.” Let’s recapitulate this current administration’s big booboos, shall we?
- Lockdowns: This government has the world record for locking up, locking down and locking in its residence for over a year with no scientific evidence of the benefits of an intermittent lockdown at lowering COVID cases. They figured if they just told us they were “following the science” without actually showing us the science, we’d take them at their word. More than a year later and the cases are out of control. Logic would dictate, after so many deaths, that a plan B is required. Not for good ol’ Dougie Fordie!
- Human Rights Charter Violations: Let’s not forget the day he lost his marbles and declared that police had the right to stop anyone AT RANDOM, card them and harass them as to why they’ve left their home. Why he didn’t resign after that clown show is beyond me.
- Essential work: His essential workers’ list is so subjective, you can see the inequality and inequity seeping from the corners of the list. I’m talking about economic and social inequalities; the lower class is poorer, the middle class is poor, and the rich are richer at the expense of the lower and middle class’s vulnerability. Guess who made a massive profit off of our backs? That’s right, good ol’ Dougie Fordie! But hey! At least y’all can still fulfil your dreams of becoming alcoholics because the LCBO is still running your tab.
- Rent: Did you lose your job? Are you a business owner who can’t open and keep the roof over your head and feed your family? Your landlord won’t give you a break because they’re a profiteering, heartless, capitalist monster, i.e. a property management corporation or just a plain ol’ a-hole? Yea, Dougie couldn’t give two shits about how you have to dip into a high-interest line of credit or risk being evicted. But hey! At least legally, you can’t get evicted over the wintertime in Canada. Oh, wait, that law changed in 2009 because “there are shelters.”
- Homeless: Speaking of shelters! There aren’t enough to take you all in, let alone the homeless folks. Social distancing? What’s that? Nah, jam them all in there. They brought homelessness upon themselves after all, right Dougie? Such a burden it is to focus on this crisis. Don’t you wish Andrea Horwath would just shut up about it already? Women, am I right? So emotional.
- Sick leave: Are your too ill to work but can’t afford to take it off? Let’s share the blame here and acknowledge this is also your employer’s fault. Like your a-hole landlord, they have no compassion to give you additional time off as some other employers have done for the sake of the health and safety of their employees. On the other hand, Dougie here would rather you starve to death as long as it’s not listed as a COVID death; he’s ok with it. I honestly don’t understand what the problem is? Oh, he wants to balance the budget, you say? LOL! WHAT BUDGET?! That ship has sailed at both the federal and the provincial levels. Hahahaha! Budget. Ah. I have an idea: NATIONALIZE THE TOLL HIGHWAY 407, and it’ll pay for what we need. Grow a pair, Dougie, and do the right thing by your people.
I could keep going. What a joke of a government this administration has been since the time they took office. You can argue, “what about Trudeau?” Ah, yes, another whataboutism. Trudeau is another can of failed worms; however, let’s focus on the topic at hand: how Premier Doug Ford’s failure at minimizing COVID cases exposed dangerous flaws to three of our major social institutions.
Premier Doug Ford has said many dumb things in the last year, but blaming COVID-19 and people not respecting “the rules” for overwhelming the healthcare system is possibly the dumbest thing he’s ever said. Why? Time to paint a picture!
Every societal institution relies on a model that theorizes its performance and productivity. It’s the foundation that builds the institution. In the example of healthcare, the model outlines the systematic and manual processes required for it to function. Simply put, we have a board of directors overseeing medical professionals that include doctors, nurses, administration, medical education, insurance, the free flow of people going through the system for medical assistance, among other processes. The model is developed by placing these stakeholders into a workflow that (should) functions with minimal interruptions.
The models are only theories until they’re put into practice. Like any theory, it’s essential to check in and consider the changes that occur to society over time and space that may hinder the model. The best way to do this is by performing stress tests (typically scenario-based) on the institution. For example, law enforcement agencies perform stress tests through what-if scenarios quarterly, semi-annual and yearly. As we’ve seen, the police establishment is still pretty crappy even with these tests, so imagine what healthcare – and education – look like without, at minimum, a reevaluation of its processes and programs!
Ontario’s healthcare system was designed to support a much smaller population. As the population grew, previous and current government administrations made amendments to the Ontario Public Health Act; however, most of the updates had to do with creating more managerial, board and ministerial positions and less to do with the actual patient traffic flow out of the healthcare system. Picture a lineup of managers on one end of a room, collecting a fat six-figure paycheque as they watch patients cramming through a small turnstile to get in. “It’s free healthcare”, they keep yelling at the patients. As of 2016, the government spends 43 cents for every dollar towards healthcare (Lavison, Mattison, 2016, p.17), which is actually a pretty decent amount of funding. Had the government prioritized the patient’s care with that funding, we’d be having a different discussion right now. The onus is on our government to ensure our healthcare system is elastic enough to support a growing population.
How does one elasticize a system like healthcare?
- Employee forecasting: You develop a strategy to evaluate and consistently grow the headcount for medical professionals first, i.e. prioritize the hands-on roles first to accommodate the forecasted increasing number of patients. As the headcount increases, determine the management-to-medical professional ratio and hire managers AFTER the fact.
- Education: Recognize the many prospects who want to become medical professionals and reevaluate the education program, so you don’t lose talent to places like the Caribbean or the US.
- Income: VALUE YOUR STAFF. I can’t stress this enough; income matters. Stop paying useless managers fat cheques and bonuses and start valuing your doctors and nurses.
Doug Ford knows this. He not only understands this but spat on every Canadian when attempting to slash our healthcare funding. He had an opportunity to be a Premier FOR THE PEOPLE and decided to be a Premier for the highest-paying lobbyists. Now we have a healthcare system that is understaffed, exhausted and stretched beyond its limits. You can’t blame people for getting sick, regardless of whether they followed the rules or not because when you offer “free” healthcare, you should expect to be able to serve everyone without prejudice.
I just can’t. I can’t even, man. I really can’t. This system is so broken; my suggestion is to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. My biggest beef with the government on our Education system is how on earth is the curriculum and programs decided by them? The Minister of Education has barely any experience with the education system and teaching in general and is somehow responsible for assessing and updating the education system. Take MP Stephen Lecce, current Minister of Education, for example. This bobblehead’s qualifications to revamp our kids’ curriculum are a Political Science Bachelor degree and a career politician. How does any of this have to do with kids, teachers and education? Nothing.
So here we are with an unqualified Minister of Education, a global pandemic, a hungry Teachers’ union, and confused and worried teachers, parents and students. Mark my words: the teeter-totter from home-schooling to in-class, and from extended breaks to no breaks until June, is going to – if it hasn’t already – do more harm to our children, teachers and parents’ mental and emotional health than if Lecce had proactively decided to either go full online learning or full in-class and transition LTO teachers to permanent to prepare for increased class numbers (not sizes) with social distance measures in place. Instead, like our managers at healthcare above watching the turnstiles, he wanted to see how many kids he can cram into one class. That was the priority, apparently.
Consequences of these stresses
The third model in trouble today is our economy. Ontario is dying a slow death. The warnings are there, and we still have time to turn things around. But if we ignore the signs, Ontario’s economy will go into free-fall and collapse overnight. This isn’t new. It has happened before 2008. The difference today is that it will be ten times worse than 2008. Today, more people are without jobs and relying on a stimulus cheque that barely makes ends meet. The cherry on top is that people now owe thousands to the Canada Revenue Agency in taxes for collecting these stimulus cheques because the circus show of a federal government we have didn’t remove the taxes beforehand. I’m sorry, do they work in function of tips? Like, did they expect us to voluntarily go, “Oh, thanks for the cheque you owe me because you’ve forbidden me to go to work. Here’s a tip for your troubles.”
The world rewards action. The universe rewards action. When you take action, things start to fall in place for you. Things can’t fall in place when you’re sitting back “planning” or procrastinating.
Rob Dial, Taking Action
The cracks in the institutions I highlighted above – and other programs – will continue to expand until everything starts to crumble unless the government proactively makes significant changes that can support our population. These three – Healthcare, Education and the Economy (jobs and people) – are the oldest and most important. We’re already witnessing the beginnings of a falling empire.
- People are growing impatient with the government, more frustrated, afraid and confused.
- People are watching the rest of the (Western) world go back to normal and wondering how we got to be so backwards.
- Animosity is growing among neighbours; division and the spread of misinformation are increasing at an alarming rate.
- Protests are becoming increasingly common, further increasing the risk of anarchy (I’m not even dramatic about this).
- Poverty is on the rise, and the middle class is disappearing as we speak.
There are many more issues that are adding stress to our province and its people. The only tool Ontarians have to leverage “freely” – for now – is their voice. The rest is up to the government and how it decides to move forward following this current lockdown, scheduled to end on June 1st. Use your voice while you still can, vocalize your anguish, contact your local MP (federal) and MPP (provincial) and express your grave concern. Don’t be a doormat because it’s clear this government is gauging where the line is. Wake up, Ontario. The line was crossed months ago and is now miles away.