System Failure

The province’s ‘top doc’, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Doctor Kiernan Moore’s response this morning in quotes at the bottom. Indoor masking ‘strongly recommended’.

Strongly recommended. Deep in the midst of an “extreme surge”, an earlier than usual surge, with a “triple threat” of respiratory viruses, omicron Covid variants, a severe flu strain and RSV, where pediatric wards are beyond capacity, more surgeries being postponed to open up beds for respiratory emergencies, 15-20 people still dying weekly from Covid, etc. & etc., Fade to Bleak.

Strongly recommended. Please, please, pretty please. Finger crossed. Won’t someone think of the kids? Except for the CMOH who informed reporters he had no jurisdiction over school boards.

This healthcare fiasco was predicted back in the summer especially with Covid numbers plateauing instead of dropping as they did in previous cycles. Public officials were warned. They sloughed it off. When the worsening scenario manifest throughout the fall, the trajectory was obvious to anyone paying attention. The same public officials continued to slough it off, only going so far as to recommend indoor mask use.

Bringing us to this point.

Still these public officials blink, shrug their collective shoulders, and upgrade to a ‘strongly’ recommend. No mandate. No way. If not now, no how.

Such intransigence in the face of a recent poll suggesting a majority of Ontarians support a mask mandate and more than 70% who would wear a mask if mandated to do so. Such intransigence in the face of a recent study showing masking in schools helps reduce viral transmission. A continued intransigence that seems increasingly more political than either medical or scientific. From the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Set aside for the moment the discrepancy of the poll numbers, people in favour of masking, their willingness to mask if required to do so, and the fact that right now a very small minority are actually wearing masks inside, in shops and grocery stores, a weird I know I should be wearing a mask, I would wear a mask if I had to but I’m not going to wear a mask if I don’t have to. I don’t know. I don’t understand it either.

But is it too much to expect our governmental officials, both elected and appointed, to account for the public’s whimsical inconsistencies, and to take charge, especially during an unprecedented medical emergency, and, you know, actually lead? Not follow. Not equivocate. To lead. To legislate. To mandate.

That’s what they’re there for, isn’t it?

What lies beneath our government’s inaction on this? Its refusal to do the right thing given all the evidence points overwhelmingly in that direction? Why is the Chief Medical Officer of Health exacerbating rather than working to mitigate an increasingly dangerous, lethal medical emergency?

Just out-and-out negligence and dereliction of duty? Do no harm, what? Take a couple aspirin and don’t even bother calling us in the morning.

That’s more the what but where’s the why?


Under pressure from a government that a) opposes such heavy-handed intrusions into private decision-making; or, b) depends on the support of hardcore anti-mask/anti-vaxx voters; or, c) both a and b, Dr. Moore’s hands are tied. He either quits the post and kicks up a fuss on his way out the door or he accepts being the face of failure, as Premier Ford yesterday at his gas tax cut press conference told reporters any decision to mandate mask wearing was up to Moore. This far into it, cases spiking, hospitals busting at the seams, with even darker days predicted ahead, the moment to take a principled stand for the CMOH has, it seems, passed. Mark it in your calendars. November 14, 2022. Everything for him from here on forward will only be measured in units of self-serving.

The only other explanation I can come up with is ideology-adjacent. Again with pressure from the government, Moore simply does not want to re-energize the fringe fanatics, the denialists, the convoyists, the beta-blockers, the former athlete-turned-pseudo-virologists, gold medal cranks and nothing but noisemakers. The Saturday noontime Queen’s Park gatherers have dwindled to the pocket change dregs. Fear firing up the Combustibles again, creating under-policed chaos and congestion once more throughout the winter. Give them nothing to complain and protest about.

Endeavouring to maintain peace and quiet, fully prepared to accept the casualties to achieve it.

In other words, the aggrieved zealots have won.

They have bullied our elected leaders and bureaucratic functionaries into a sit on your hands compliance. We don’t want any trouble, guys. Nobody’s going to make you do something you don’t want to do. What’s an avalanche of deathly sick children and dying elderly and vulnerable people in the face of Freedom! Democracy! Yay!

If that’s the case, the lesson we need to learn here is to be loud, obstreperous, unbending, unyielding, ignorant in our understanding, bellicosely self-righteous and self-serving, pathologically anti-social.

Or, we could just start masking up again, accept the fact that our Chief Medical of Health is hopelessly compromised, more vested in maintaining whatever image it is Doug Ford’s government is trying to portray than the well-being of the residents of this province. Start leaning on our local medical officers of health to stand up and do the right thing. Be the responsible adults in the room, looking out for the children as best we can. Mask up. Act like there’s an actual medical emergency going on even if those who should be advising us aren’t. Mask up. Mask up like your life depends on it. More importantly, mask up like someone else’s life does.


Leave a Reply