Reacting to the latest Ontario government public health measures

Given the devastating situation in intensive care in the province, the dire predictions from the Science Table, and the outcry from nurses, doctors and other health professionals, yesterday the Ontario government announced new measures. Tragically, as often has been the case, the government acted too-little and too-late. Instead of improving the situation, we deepened the pandemic and the suffering. This is catastrophe by design.

Given the collapsing healthcare system, RNAO had earlier called for redefining essential services to only food and medications, closing down all other businesses and protecting workers. It also called for a complete lockdown including curfew. And finally, for vaccinating on-site using all-hands-on-deck, in particular, in hotspot neighborhoods and essential factories that will remain open. Very little of this was implemented in the measures announced yesterday. Here is our press release and here is a tweet (please RT).

Yesterday after the announcements, we tweeted out of desperation: “Shameful, criminal and devastating.” The government’s policies do not match the devastating reality of COVID in Ontario. “Sorry Ontarians, nurses failed to convince Premier Ford” to do the right thing. “Workers left to fend for themselves.”

Nothing of this was a surprise. We have been speaking out for weeks and months, and so many other health professionals have done so. On April 5 RNAO issued a press release denouncing the earlier measures as insufficient. This release followed earlier calls from RNAO cautioning of the impending third wave driven by new variants (see hereherehere and here). RNAO also issued an earlier Action Alert and issued on April 15 another urgent Action Alert. To no avail – this government simply does not want to hear. Please, do continue to sign and ask others to sign, as we can never give up.

Our heart goes to nurses, doctors and other health professionals who must sustain an overwhelmed healthcare system. The prospect of “triaging” in ICU beds is devastating and traumatic. As RNAO member and Pediatric Nursing Interest Group executive RN Chantal Singh says, “I don’t think Premier Ford has any concept of the moral distress, heartache and despair healthcare workers across Ontario are feeling due to the impending onslaught of deaths and difficult decisions no human should ever have to make. He has in fact refused the support we’ve begged for.” She adds that people will pay the price in lives lost, and healthcare workers will remain with lifelong trauma from this preventable scenario. “It’s not about the number of vaccines. It’s about forgetting your pride and your pockets, and putting people -- human lives first”. (Please RT here and here).