Right in the centre - We need hope and fairness


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

The seemingly never-ending battle against COVID-19 is grinding everyone down. Now, the C-19 battle is nowhere as bad a the 1918 Flu, at least not so far. The C-19 battle pales in comparison to the desperation and losses in the Battle of Britain or the Siege of Stalingrad. We all get that, or at least, I hope we do.

The problems with C-19 are numerous, but the main one seems to be a lack of fairness and hope. Politicians and some civil servants will say we are “all in the same boat.” That is an outright lie! We may all be in the same storm, but we are certainly not all in the same boat. The politicians, civil servants and many others are still drawing a paycheque. They may have to work from home or work under less than ideal conditions, but they are all still getting a paycheque. As I have said in this space before, most of the people who insist on shutting down the economy are still going to get paid. It’s the businesses, and especially the declared“non-essential” businesses, that are suffering.

The government made a big mistake by not applying uniform rules to all businesses and by declaring certain retail goods as non-essential. A “hope and fairness” policy would have allowed all businesses to stay at 30 to 50 per cent capacity. It is quite amazing how quickly the plexiglass shields went up and the masks went on. The social distancing took place pretty quickly. We need hope and fairness and, in my view, such a policy would not change the infection rate in Manitoba.

The government’s biggest fear is that the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) will simply run out of space and staffing and that is a genuine concern. There is a genuine concern that staff at all levels of health care will wear out. But looking back over the past several months and the C-19 deaths, have we not learned something here? For example, way more care homes and hospitals have not had C-19 than have had outbreaks. It would seem that staff did something right at those places and maybe there is something to be learned from that.

Have we not learned that if a care home runs short of staff that they should immediately call in extra help, be it military, Red Cross or the ambulance service? A few years ago, we lived next door to a large housing complex in Winnipeg and while it wasn’t a care home, as such, there was certainly a high level of care required within its walls. The ambulances were there just about every night. It only makes sense that when the care homes get overwhelmed, and they all do at some point, then call in help. There is no shame in that, it only makes sense. Surely, we have learned that lesson.

C-19 isn’t exclusively lethal to old people, but certainly a high percentage of the severe cases and deaths have been in the elderly age group. Is it possible that seniors home policies have made the lethal effects worse? Here’s a second hand story that may be helpful. A qualified health professional inquired about their mother’s health and was advised that she was being “monitored” and upon further inquiry, determined that the effects of dehydration were taking its toll. Upon asking why the mother was not getting IV treatment, the answer was, “We don’t do that here.” The family called an ambulance and after five days in hospital with appropriate treatment, mother was back up and around.

How many old people have died because they didn’t get the right care at the right time? I don’t know, but there is an answer out here somewhere.

How many people who died, would have died anyway? I don’t know that either, but there is an answer out there somewhere. I beg government to do more and please, please tell us what is being done. Generally speaking, the Province of Manitoba communications department really sucks.

Easier to understand rules and better communications would go a long way towards giving Manitobans a sense of hope and fairness. That is all I ask.