At a recent COVID-19 news conference featuring Ontario's premier, Doug Ford, and members of his cabinet CBC reporter Mike Crawley asked a pointed question. Crawley noted that recently Ford has spoken of how his "heart breaks" for small business people who may lose everything if the province moves back into strict lockdown because of the alarming rise in COVID cases. Why wasn't the premier talking about the growing number of people who have died because the virus was spreading? Ford took umbrage at this, saying he regularly phoned families who had experienced losses and was working long hours to address the resurgence of COVID.
Ford didn't really answer the question, still, I commend Crawley for asking it. The number of deaths is on the rise, but this figure is usually tacked on after the statistics about actual cases, and the press conferences certainly don't dwell on these statistics. Yet these are beloved human beings who are dying, and the majority of them are elderly and fragile. They live in institutions which are failing in providing protection in too many instances, and the proposed solutions to this tragedy are years away.
When the first wave of COVID hit, most of us were appalled by the number of deaths in nursing homes and knew that this wasn't acceptable. Have we now decided as a society that a certain number of these losses of people who contributed to society, who love and are loved, is acceptable? Surely mentioning them on a regular basis in a public forum is one way of keeping a human face on what is transpiring.
We know that one of the distinguishing features of the early Christian church which was an important part of its growth was compassion for the vulnerable, including the elderly. This care became a defining aspect of societies where Christianity was at the core, and even though we have become far more secular these values are still part of our ethos. Our hearts should break at the growing number of deaths, whatever the age of those who are lost.
I'm not suggesting that Premier Ford is not a caring person as an individual,and God knows he has a tough job. We should all care about businesses which are struggling to survive. But as Premier of Ontario it is essential that he and his government regularly remind all citizens that the deaths associated with COVID-19 are more than numbers, they are cherished human beings.
It would seem that despite the hope of vaccines we are in this for the long haul, and we must remain steadfast as a society. I'm glad that there are people such as Mike Crawley asking the challenging questions.