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Opinion, Dave Dale: Ontario lost in COVID maze, failed its RAT test

It’s almost unfortunate we’re having a provincial election in six months, the Progressive Conservative government will deem such calls for probes as nothing more than political witch hunts. And I’m sure the Liberals and New Democrats, for starters, will turn it into a Gong Show laced with rhetoric and platitudes.
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Inquiring minds will want to know exactly what the Ontario government did and didn't do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s natural to be repulsed at the notion of spending money and precious time ruminating over past errors and omissions. There’s an understandable reflex to snort and chuckle at the first mention of striking a naval-gazing panel. Pundits will point to the many results of previous inquiries buried under thick layers of dust.

An inquiry about the effectiveness of commissions, with a focus on the actual return-on-investment for such creations, would probably go unread as well.

Too often, politicians have used them to divert attention, buy time and keep the activist-minded busy while they focus on keeping or obtaining power.

The theory, however, is to figure out how to do things better, smarter, and more efficiently. And boy oh boy, it’s obvious we need to learn a few lessons and we need to be quick about it.

With this in mind, I believe Ontario needs its COVID-19 pandemic actions and inactions put under the microscope. There are too many indications the province failed miserably at almost every key step. And there are some serious accusations about wilful inaction that require serious study – specifically how pandemic funding was allocated or not.

Personally, I’m interested in delving further into the education file and tracking exactly what was promised and delivered, specifically more information about federal funds provided for rapid access tests and their relationship with the private sector.

I’d also suggest keying in on what was done and not done to adapt our health care system and shore up its foundations of nursing personnel and testing capacity.

It’s almost unfortunate we’re having a provincial election in six months, the Progressive Conservative government will deem such calls for probes as nothing more than political witch hunts. And I’m sure the Liberals and New Democrats, for starters, will turn it into a Gong Show laced with rhetoric and platitudes. There's also the small matter of not being out of the woods yet, although there is small hope the Omicron variant and a muted fourth wave might let us fluke our way into better days ahead.

I have no love or respect for Premier Doug Ford, based purely on his performance, and this iteration of Tories has proven amateurish in a time of fluid and complex crises. It also doesn’t look well on Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, who chairs cabinet after two aborted bids at the PC party leadership. He’s going to wear some of the egg, there’s no doubt about it. But I’d really like to hear his version of events about how decisions were made and who led the winning debate — if there was any.

Call me naive, I just want to believe he'd have done a better job and wouldn't have allowed things to get this silly.

The elephant in the room, though, is how we’re going to fix a system that gives so much power to people who are supported by a minority of the population.

And in a time of calamity, we need real-time oversight involving all elected representatives and experts in the fields involved.

We can’t wait for after-the-fact commissions and election cycles to deal with such issues in the future.

We really need to stop putting trust in people and parties and start building better institutional frameworks that we depend upon to be responsible, accountable, and transparent.

Check out www.fairvote.ca and, while it’s a bit lefty for some to stomach, there are good points made. I’d like to see an independent panel look at changing our electoral system.

We can’t trust any one party to do it — those who have power have too much to lose.

Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses meant as Letters to the Editor can be sent to editor@baytoday.ca. To contact the writer directly, email: davedale@backinthebay.ca or check out his website www.smalltowntimes.ca 

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