Editorial: The pandemic has highlighted flaws in our health system

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When mining for silver linings in any catastrophe one often has to dig deep. So it is with the Ontario response to the pandemic which, despite numerous missteps and stumbles both out of the gate and in the home stretch, seems to be flattening the curve on the fourth wave—although with Thanksgiving Weekend family gatherings close in the rear view mirror and steadily loosening restrictions on gatherings, it will be a couple of weeks yet before the jury returns on that assessment.

One of the silver linings may be that the pandemic has shown a glaring bright light on the shortcomings of all areas of Ontario’s health care system. Of course that lining will only prove out to not be dross if during the next several months the Ford government takes steps to correct what that illumination has revealed.

The latest Ontario budget and those few policy revelations that have come about since the pandemic has hit do not inspire any great confidence. Instead of bold new vision, the Progressive Conservatives seem to be falling into form by gazing lovingly into their own rear view mirror, taking the opportunity of the latest Speech from the Throne as an opportunity to extol the accomplishments of what they like to style as “the people’s government” and polishing their hustings cred with self-aggrandizing hyperbole.

The situation reported by former Expositor editor Diane Sims  within this edition stands very much as a case in point illustrating those shortcomings, but one only has to look to the extreme shortages of personal support workers currently bedeviling the system, the lack of nurses and other health professionals and the hodgepodge mishmash that is Ontario health policies to dig up any number of other nuggets.

The horror stories coming out of, largely for profit, long-term care facilities, is a butcher’s bill to rival many of this country’s major overseas conflicts still being tallied on the scoreboard of this province’s shortcomings being largely ignored by the ruling Tories who seem intent on doubling down on that fiasco. It is challenging to not credit the large number of prominent former Tory luminaries sitting on private long-term care facilities’ boards for that direction.

It is long past time to bring some coherence to our health care system, and the lessons from the pandemic should sound clarion alarms against increasing for-profit players in that system. Long past time because, truth be told, not all the blame lies at the foot of the Tory altar of self-worship that guides the current hands at the helm of Queen’s Park. Liberal predecessors and yes, even that long-ago but short-live moment of orange flavoured bliss that was the Rae NDP government, did little to fill the cracks that were even evident back then.

If the Ford government is looking for a legacy that could ensure a return to the 40 years of glory days hallmarked by the Big Blue Machine, they would better look to building coherence into the many facets of our health system than trying to find “efficiencies” within the health care system by cutting needed government services our increasingly aging public depends on.

Unfortunately, the latest pronouncements from this government seem more bent on blowing smoke into the mirrors than guiding our province through the winding road ahead.