Ontario may soon be entering Phase 3 of reopening, and even though the threat of coronavirus is still alive, the rate of increase has slowed to the point where we can assess the Provincial government’s track record more clearly. Premier Doug Ford has been praised for his response to the pandemic. The facts however, show, that many large numbers of deaths could’ve been avoided if Ford had taken a different route. Here are a few of the ways Doug Ford dropped the ball managing Ontario’s coronavirus response.

1. Telling people to go away for March Break

At the heels of March spring break, when China and Iran were knee deep in the crisis and the threat of COVID turning into a blown out pandemic had emerged, Ford told people not to cancel their March break and go enjoy themselves. A week later, however, the Prime Minister made it clear that people should not leave the country and all citizens should return to Canada. By encouraging people to travel, Ford may have exacerbated the spread of coronavirus in Canada.

2. Allowing COVID-positive migrant workers to continue working

Recently, Ford, once again, said that asymptomatic farmworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19 can be allowed back to work while maintaining social distance from workers who have been tested negative. This move, however, has proved detrimental for Southern Ontario, where cases have risen sharply over the last few days. At a farm in the Windsor-Essex region, 191 people have been tested positive, leading to the farm’s closure. Four farms in the region are currently experiencing a massive outbreak. Temporary foreign workers have also avoided being tested, in case they are not paid or sent back to their home country if tested positive. 

3. Healthcare cuts immediately before the pandemic

The Ford government’s cuts to public healthcare spending left the province more vulnerable to a pandemic. Ontario’s healthcare system, in particular, was not prepared to handle a pandemic all due to recent cuts in funding. In April 2019, Ford announced a cut of $1 billion from public health over 10 years. In 2020 alone, $4.5 million was cut from public health. Despite witnessing how the pandemic took a toll on the healthcare system and frontline workers, on March 12 2020, Ford’s government maintained they are committed to cuts in the public health sector.  

4. Cuts to long-term care home inspections and funding

Similar cuts to long-term care homes have resulted in 11,173 residents and staff contracting Covid-19 and 1,860 deaths. Many long-term care homes were under-funded and under-staffed in normal times, let alone during a pandemic which disproportionately harms seniors. Some of the Ford government’s austerity measures that have hurt staff and residents include a cut of $34 million in long-term care funding, and scaling back the number of in-person inspections of facilities — in 2019 only 6 of 626 homes in Ontario were inspected. 

5. Cancelling paid sick days

This pandemic has been particularly hard on the average worker. The nature of coronavirus has forced us to social distance for any chance at flattening the curve. Unfortunately, Ford’s decision to repeal the two guaranteed paid sick days for workers may have contributed to the spread of the virus in early stages of the pandemic. Without paid sick days, workers may have gone to work even though they were infected and experiencing symptoms, unknowingly spreading the virus. 

While Doug Ford has been praised for his performancing during the pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind that he has repeatedly failed to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario and help those who have been impacted by it. As Canada continues working to prevent a second wave of infections, now whether the Ford government is willing to learn from their mistakes is the question.

Demand a public inquiry into Ontario long-term care