I didn't know what to write about this week. I just had "Spring Break", so it was a week without classes but not a week without concerns. The good parts involved sleeping in and playing video games distantly with friends so that meant a break from the usual routine, but it wasn't completely peaceful and restful.
In addition to the usual worries and time-takers (e.g. tackling the large pile of marking, planning for an uncertain amount of time online, wondering how to best support my parents as my dad continues to slowly recover from his surgery), on Friday, the premier of Ontario made an announcement with new rules and restrictions. I thought it was going to be more "smoke and mirrors" changes-that-weren't-changes (such as calling it a "shut down" instead of a "lock down") but I was unfortunately surprised. There were changes, but not beneficial or useful ones - primarily, the police were granted more ability to stop people at random. The official quote is:
amendments to an emergency order (O.Reg 8/21 Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) have been made that will provide police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to support the enforcement of Ontario's Stay-at-Home order.Effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., police officers and other provincial offences officers will have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence. In addition, police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables will have the authority to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual's reasons for leaving their home.
If you want to know the source, it comes from this link (although I'm unsure if it will change or be updated by Monday).
The uproar was quick, and the backpedaling happened quickly thereafter. Sadly, the changes weren't significant ones - the main alteration was that outdoor playgrounds won't close. Police forces claimed that they would not use this authority given to them to card and harass but already there have been reports of individuals being stopped and questioned, especially people who aren't white.
What could have been done instead? These aren't my ideas: I've heard them shared by people much more experienced than I am. I'll limit the suggestions to what I guess might be the two biggest change-makers. Quite simply ...
- arrange for paid sick days, especially for those working in "essential" but dangerous positions (e.g. grocery stores, delivery personnel, warehouses, etc.)
- prioritize vaccinations for those who are at more risk for exposure, rather than age
A reminder that the science is clear: 1) Focus on indoor spaces. 2) Close all but truly essential workplaces. 3) Support people so they can stay at home when sick. 4) Vaccinate those most at risk. 5) Limit contacts and don’t travel. But do exercise/play outdoors masked/distanced.— Kali Barrett (@DrKaliBarrett) April 17, 2021
This week my bill for 10 paid sick days will be debated in the Ontario Legislature.— Michael Coteau (@coteau) April 17, 2021
Retweet if you support 10 paid sick days and send @fordnation a strong message.#onpoli #PaidSickDays #PaidSickDaysSaveLives #PaidSickDaysNow
I'm fortunate. In my profession, I have paid sick days. I'm also lucky enough that, due to several factors, I actually have a vaccination date booked. (It's 3 weeks from now, but that's a lot better than a lot of people.)
Those of us who work for employers who have paid sick days aren’t spoiled. It’s that everyone who doesn’t have paid sick days are exploited. Those of us who have need to continue to fight in solidarity with those who do not. THAT is the labour movement: fighting for ALL workers.— Shannon Salisbury, ABD (for now) (@Miz_Salisbury) April 18, 2021