Regular readers of this column will no doubt have noticed that I frequently refer to various idioms and quotations. I admit that I have always liked idioms as they cause us to think of the underlying meanings and how we can use this in understanding particular situations and thought patterns. In my job I talk to so many people each day from across the riding. The people of Algoma-Manitoulin have some very unique outlooks with such a broad spectrum of backgrounds. Northern, rural, urban, business, academic, agricultural, resources….you name it. Some perspectives are unique to our region I believe. I especially enjoy idioms and fables from my Indigenous friends who share so many profound philosophies that reference nature, the environment and wildlife and how man interacts with them.
As of late, with the return of members to the Legislature, there have been many questions from the media asking Doug Ford about his intended demeanor as we go forward, working our way through the terrible pandemic. Many have noted and referred to what some see as a softening of the hard, sharp edged behaviour of Ford. He has come right out and said he has seen the light and knows he needs to change his approach to leading the people of Ontario. Well, forgive me, Mr. Ford, but in the words of some of my Indigenous friends, “The wolf may lose his teeth, but never his nature.” It’s basically a Canadian version of “The leopard can’t change his spots.”
There is no doubt that on the surface, Doug Ford has exhibited some effort to tone down the bombastic, aggressive tone that the Conservatives demonstrated in their first year of office. Remember how Ford bulldozed his way though the Toronto municipal election issue, even threatening to use the ‘not withstanding clause’? He now even appears to play nice with Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Just the other day he led praises to former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. His ability to deliver bad news for the average Ontarian by making it appear as a shining generous gift seems to be improving to some degree.
Take for example the growing public support for the government to end for-profit long-term care. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a disaster behind the walls of long-term care homes. Records show that more than 1,900 people died in such facilities, shattering thousands of families. Also deeper analyses have shown that for-profit long-term-care homes were more dangerous during the pandemic than publicly run homes. The truth is that residents who contracted COVID-19 were more likely to die if they lived in a for-profit facility.
Before the COVID-19, the conditions were horrific and when the pandemic hit, things only got worse. And now a second wave is upon us. We need to take action to protect seniors this time, and we have to do it now. This is why Andrea Horwath presented a motion to replace for-profit homes with safer, more effectively run public facilities. Andrea stated, “We can put an end to the days of short-changing our loved ones to pad the profits of private shareholders, and instead put every last dollar into better care, a better quality of life for aging Ontarians, and more peace of mind for families. But we need a government willing to put people before profits when it comes to long-term care.”
Unfortunately the Ford Government decided against taking a step that would clearly lead to improving the safety, health of thousands of Ontario seniors and definitely save many lives, both now and in years to come. Like I said, “The wolf may lose his teeth, but never his nature.”
Also recently Ford announced that his government is introducing the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 saying, “that if passed, [the bill] will provide liability protection for workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19.” He says the act is intended to protect front line workers and volunteers from being sued if someone dies from the COVID-19 virus. But when you think about it, it’s not the acts or decisions of front-line workers and volunteers that would cause the spread of the virus since all they are doing is following the instructions and policies dictated by superiors, using the equipment and supplies they are given. Therefore, in reality the bill tabled by the Government is designed specifically to shield itself and for-profit long-term care corporations from accountability. Ford did not act to protect the lives of the 1900 long-term residents who died – and now he is protecting the very companies from legal action who let these residents die in horrible conditions.
“The wolf may lose his teeth, but never his nature.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. The NDP has launched our plan to overhaul homecare and long-term care in Ontario called Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best. The 8 part plan includes:
- Overhaul home care to help people live at home longer
- Make all long-term care public and not-for-profit
- Build small, modern, family-like homes
- Staff up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers
- Make family caregivers a priority
- Create culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care situations
- Clear the wait list for access to long-term care
- Guarantee new and stronger protections for our seniors
One of the pillars of the 8 part plan, is to make all long-term care public and not-for-profit. This would end greedy profit-making at the expense of quality of care. We are committed to phasing out for-profit operators within eight years, and increasing financial reporting, transparency and accountability during the transition period. For more information on our plan, go online to www.aging_ontarians_deserve_the_best_-_en.pdf.
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 [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.
Michael Mantha MPP/député