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We need to loosen restrictions sooner than later

April 2020

Re: “Feds try to stop provincial plans to come back to life,” (Anthony Furey, Toronto Sun, 25 April):

While any return to a semblance of normality is absolutely going to have to proceed with great caution, I find it a bit rich hearing that Trudeau wants to establish the ground rules. Trudeau is a multi-millionaire and thus, the only suffering he is enduring is from a lack of opportunities for jogging-shirtless and selfie photos. He’s not facing the loss of his job, his home or the small business he spent years building.

Sure, Premier Doug Ford is also independently wealthy, but he has run a business, which gives him more of an insight into how the business world is coping. He understands what it takes financially to run a business and how devastating it is for businesses when cash-flow is limited or non-existent. We already face a devastating forecast of the number of businesses that won’t survive this pandemic.

Trudeau seems happy to just hand out more and more taxpayer money, something that can’t continue indefinitely, building up our already staggering federal debt, all while watching our economy crumble. We need to begin the process of re-opening businesses that can safely operate under sensible restrictions; businesses that need revenue, not loans or handouts.

How does everyone feel about Trudeau’s “modest annual deficits” now?


The original Toronto Sun column:

“Feds try to stop provincial plans to come back to life,” by Anthony Furey

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe released his “Re-Open Saskatchewan” plan, which cautiously brings society back to life starting May 4.

Earlier in the week, Moe had mentioned how it was dangerous to reopen too soon, which is what everyone’s rightly been saying. But then he added something that’s not being said enough: that it’s also dangerous to open too late.

Doctors are already warning about the rise in mental health problems and missed treatments for non-COVID ailments. People are losing their jobs and businesses are shutting down.

We can walk and chew gum at the same time, which is why the provinces should now be engaged in an all hands on deck approach to both offer added supports to the most vulnerable while reopening society as smartly as possible for everyone else.

Moe’s not the only one. Jason Kenney recently unveiled his five-point plan for Alberta and several other provinces are discussing their own specifics. It’s only Ontario and Quebec that are warning things may take a little longer, given how they are the two hardest hit.

Something odd happened on Friday though, the day after Moe had made his announcement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerged from Rideau Cottage to announce that he will be establishing guidelines for a reopening.

“We will be working with the provinces and territories to establish principles and guidelines to start reopening the economy, safely. Over the coming weeks, you will hear more talk about reopening, but you need to know, we’re not out of the woods,” said Trudeau.

He’s a little late to the party. Did Trudeau not hear what Moe, Kenney and the others had already announced? The provinces have been drafting their own guide

lines without the feds.

It’s hard to understand what role Trudeau thinks the feds will have to play at this point. Unless he is just referring to getting feedback from the premiers on when they’d prefer he ease up on federal flight and travel restrictions.

It doesn’t seem that way though. Trudeau also said on Friday: “I want to be clear that getting back to normal will not happen overnight. It’s going to take time. It won’t be as simple or as easy as flipping a switch. It will require a lot of co-ordination at the national level.”

But the feds can’t co-ordinate something that’s already underway without them.

Trudeau had said as recently as April 16 that we were “many weeks away” from even beginning to talk about reopening. Talk about being a downer. Meanwhile, premiers of all political stripes have kept up a can-do attitude about getting things roaring again as soon as it’s safe.

It looks like the feds have only now pivoted to talk of reopening because the provinces are ignoring them and taking the lead. It’s a case of fighting for control and relevance. This is unfortunate. Trudeau needs to back off and fight the urge to make everything revolve around him.

The whole reason behind the broader lockdowns was the fear that cases would flare up so much that it overwhelmed our health-care system and left our hospitals overrun without enough ICU beds and ventilators. That thankfully hasn’t happened. Canada is actually coming in under the number of cases the models predicted.

It’s important to keep in mind that none of the proposed plans the premiers are discussing are full green light reopenings. Nobody wants that. These multi-phase plans all include detailed provisions about reducing large gatherings, maintaining physical distancing and enhancing cleaning protocols.

The feds seem to want to hold the provinces back. Thank heavens they’re making their own calls.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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