TORONTO - Traditionally, Fridays have been the “communications dump” of the week for any jurisdiction – government, business or institutional. It is the ideal time for releasing information. People are generally focused on the weekend and/or are too exhausted from the week’s stressful events to pay too much attention. If they do react, they usually cannot do much. Is there an “office” on a weekday schedule that is equipped for new intake after 1:00pm on Friday?
Nonetheless, the federal government thought it would be a good tactic to announce that its “latest initiative” against the deadly virus – the allocation of $14 billion in “additional expenditures”. The purpose? To kick start a plan designed to transition to normal commercial exercise, to make up for lost economic activity, and, to ensure that “the system” would be ready in the event Covid-19 should return this Fall.
The few details that emerged suggested that all expenditures would be “tied” to specific measurable activities whose results and ecacies could be logged and evaluated. One could ask “in addition to which sums”, but $14 billion is still an impressive, enticing, sum. In fact, it is roughly the equivalent of 5.1% of the planned Federal expenditures for the last fiscal year.
In a follow-up press conference later in the afternoon, Ontario’s Premier, said, not so fast, Ontario needs its fair share. Like all “Ontario-firsters” who inhabit this beautiful province, we might agree. So, what sum would fit that description?
Ontario is home to 36% of Canada’s population and generates an estimated 42% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). A reasonable argument could be made for, say, 40% - $5.6 billion – of that total.
No … the Premier argued, summoning up all of his seriousness, Covid-19 has already cost Ontario $23 billion; therefore, speaking for the province, the $14 billion is merely a starting point in the discussion. And, by the way, “the Province alone will decide how to spend the amount”.
As part of his strategy to negotiate in public, he reminded those present - physically and virtually – that Ontario “sends to Ottawa” $13 billion, annually, more than it gets back. It is a standard argument of all “Exiters”. Only the numbers and how they are calculated change.
Premier Ford did his best to “sound moderate”. Moderation or not, the race against Covid-19 has now shifted from a cautious gear dominated by fear into an accelerated one where the public will be treated to a partisan blame game: which jurisdiction waffled, dithered, or blundered more. Senior public health officials around the country (yes, including Dr. Theresa Tam) now seem to agree that 82% of all Covid-19 related deaths occurred in Long Term Care Homes.
These, like virtually all health-related issues (except pharmaceutical patents and licensing new drugs - vaccines), are governed by Provincial Legislation and Regulations. Who should be held accountable, and required, to pay for that tragedy?
The answer is found in a refrain often repeated in crime dramas “Show/give me the money”.