More harm than good

By Mike Baker

I have to admit, I let my emotions get the better of me last week when Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced yet another extension to this seemingly never ending third provincial lockdown.

It wasn’t upset, confusion or frustration – more pure, unadulterated anger.

I’m not really sure why it happened. This two-week continuation wasn’t exactly a surprise. Back when this latest lockdown was first announced on April 3, there was a feeling amongst most people I interact with that it was going to stretch on longer than initially anticipated. When it was extended on April 16 for a further month, there was a general acceptance that it was probably the right thing to do.

As the days ticked by, and reports outlined that new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario were dropping, I fooled myself into thinking we were coming out on the other side. Surely now, with numbers finally coming down, there’s no reason why things can’t open up, on schedule, on May 20, right?

Clearly I was wrong.

I’ve listened to the comments made by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, expressing why it’s so important that we remain in lockdown. I’ve had to endure Ford calling me and every other Ontarian ‘friend’ while hearing him regurgitate the same speech he’s been giving for over a year now. I’m just… tired of it.

If Dr. Williams had his way, Ontario would have been in a continuous state of lockdown since the pandemic began last year. Health professionals across the globe have been fairly consistent with their messaging in this regard. The problem is that we need to balance the obvious health and safety risks with everything else – the economy, people’s mental health.

Granted, the federal government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs have been supported throughout the pandemic. The provincial government has invested millions of dollars in various mental health supports and initiatives. But, from where I’m standing, that hasn’t gone far enough.

We’ve already seen evidence of that here in Haliburton. Sharon Rowden, no doubt a familiar name to many readers, said the COVID-19 pandemic and enforced closures she had to abide by were the primary reason she closed Touch of Class Day Spa, following more than 30 years of operating in the community. Head Lake Grill was another casualty of the pandemic.

In a recent interview with the Echo, Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce President Andrea Strano said many businesses were “at the breaking point,” and that was before this latest lockdown was extended to include the May long weekend – a pretty significant holiday for businesses in the Highlands.

I don’t know that this lockdown is necessarily saving lives anymore, not when you consider those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 have received at least their first vaccination shot. It is, however, killing livelihoods. It’s sending people off the deep end mentally.

I think we’re getting dangerously close to the point where these all-encompassing lockdowns are doing more harm than good.