Topsy Turvy World

There once was a time when roughly speaking, the NDP stood for working people and the Conservatives represented the business classes. The Liberals would carve out the middle, blowing left and right as it suited them.

The Truckers’ Convoy has illustrated a profound shift in those positions. No longer is the NDP the party of the working class. They, along with the Liberals have for some reason decided to vilify the truckers, repeating the lie that they’re a bunch of yahoos, racists and ____phobes (fill in the blank with your choice of prefixes).

The Liberals are currently on the left as well and using the Covid emergency have managed to exercise control over nearly all of Canada’s media outlets. The legacy press has been supported financially through the pandemic with the expectation that the government’s messages would be reflected uncritically. It’s not a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you and with strings attached to the funding, the Liberals have turned almost every media outlet into a state mouthpiece since the money started flowing. If you’re wondering why the Sun and National Post are so pro-government, it might have something to do with the $1.3 million government donation to parent company Postmedia.

Most recently the Liberals have co-opted the press to declare that the truckers have (amongst other atrocities) disrespected the Ottawa War Memorial and the statue of Terry Fox. They have waved swastika and Confederate flags, have openly defecated and urinated in the streets, have stolen from food banks and generally terrorized the people of Ottawa.

Can any of this be true? Yes but in rare and isolated instances and by focusing on isolated unrepresentative occurrences, the government has been able to lie about the true nature of the demonstration in an attempt to sway public opinion. When the same distorted view is reported and repeated by so many outlets the big lie is created.

Is there another side to the story? Going outside the legacy press, there are several bloggers who have reported and even broadcast live from the protests and they tell a different tale. Here’s a sampling of YouTube channels (and a blog) that are presenting a completely different version of the protest. Naturally these people aren’t government funded and that’s why they may be more honest and credible.

Clyde Do Something.
JustinCredibleTV
Jordan Peterson February 5.
Freedom Convoy Manifesto

The Reformed Physicist blog.

It’s essential that news is reported accurately and contrary opinions can be aired. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right – it’s only with the exchange of views that a dialog can exist and opposing sides can come to an understanding.

COVID this week

The third?, fourth?, nth wave of COVID led to a huge number of cases in Weston over the past three weeks. 348 people tested positive—a huge jump from 54 only two weeks ago.

The real number is almost certainly much higher, since testing is strained.

There is good news, however: the drop-in vaccination clinic at the Crossroads reported no lineups a few times this week—and even one “quiet day”.

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COVID-19 in Ontario – a look at some numbers.

I know this isn’t local news but COVID affects us all. If you pay attention to the (I hate to say mainstream) conventional media, it appears that a crisis is imminent with regard to hospital beds in Ontario and in particular, intensive care beds. Unlike conventional media, we at Weston Web are not government funded.

There has been a startling increase in infection recently compared to previous waves ofCOVID.

Source: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data/hospitalizations

Looking at the data from Ontario’s own excellent website the black line shows the number of hospitalizations since April 2020 while the shaded area shows the daily numbers of active cases. The number of people in hospital has not risen in proportion compared to previous waves.

Despite the huge numbers of infections the latest wave, adult ICU beds don’t appear to be at a crisis point at the moment. In fact, despite rising numbers ofCOVID patients in ICU, availability has increased by 43 beds since January 6th.

Click to enlarge. Source: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data/hospitalizations

While the number ofCOVID patients in ICU is rising, so is bed availability. Over the past 30 days, available ICU beds have been as high as 802 on December 26 to a low of 540 on January 6. Indeed, if we look back a few months, we can see that there is flexibility in the system.

Click to enlarge. ICU availability since May 1 2020. Source https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data/hospitalizations

Hospitals have been able to re-assign beds to ICUs in order to meet demand. Between May and July last year there were 2554 ICU beds. The number currently stands at 2343.

The next chart is from the Ontario Science Table – an advisory group to the Government of Ontario. While being fully vaccinated doesn’t fully protect you from gettingCOVID, it vastly lowers your chances of getting severe symptoms. Look at these numbers of hospitalized and ICU patients by vaccine status.

Source: https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/ontario-dashboard/

Considering that almost 90% of Ontario adults have been double vaccinated, the rate of severe disease in the unvaccinated is startling.

Interestingly, while being doubly vaccinated lowers the chances of serious infection, recently, it is less protective against COVID as is shown in this next chart.

Source: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

As of December 23, it appears that fully vaccinated people are more at risk of getting COVID. One can speculate on the reason for this but it’s quite surprising.

Lastly, if there was any doubt remaining; according to the Ontario Science Table, in the last month, Omicron has taken over from Delta as the dominant strain in Ontario.

Source: https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/ontario-dashboard/

LOFT hosts meeting

About 75 people turned out to a virtual meeting about the supportive housing LOFT has planned for Church Street. The discussion was spirited.

LOFT has renovated five homes owned by the Humber River Hospital, and will be using them as transitional housing for 15 people recovering from mental illness. Residents will receive programming and will stay for about six months.

I think it is safe to say LOFT’s roll-out was poor: neighbours were given short notice to attend an outdoors information session (not consultation). Feedback was not solicited online, and they said at the time that “no further in-person meetings [were] planned”.

LOFT certainly heard about their poor community consultation last night. Several attendees said in direct terms that LOFT had done a bad job.

I think there were five other themes to the other comments:

  • The community should (or does) support this
  • The density of supportive housing is too high
  • More needed to be done about security
  • The zoning is unclear
  • That more needed to be done about ongoing community feedback

Personally, I was pleased to see that LOFT did host a second meeting. They appear to be willing to make some changes, and, indeed, announced some, including more staffing and a leisure space for residents.

I was, however, surprised that some of the suggestions hadn’t already been considered. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that LOFT should have:

  • Ongoing evaluation of the effects, if any, on the community and a willingness to change plans if the effects are deleterious
  • Regular community liaising with neighbours and the neighbourhood.
  • An outreach program explaining the work they do and the benefits they will bring

These efforts should be public and transparent.

In the to-and-fro of an online meeting, it’s hard to find out whether these efforts are in place, but I don’t think they are.

A complicated story

I’m going to ask you to do something a bit hard: to recognize that in an argument, both parties can be wrong.

This week, some community members started organizing against the supportive housing LOFT announced on Church Street. They put flyers on street posts and in mailboxes (including my own).

The flyers said that “crime, drugs, theft, property damage, low income, [and] prostitution” are problems in the community—and that “the former Humber River Regional hospital is turning 5 houses on Church St. into rooming/halfway houses for profit”.

As far as I can tell, little of that is accurate. They’re not going to be “rooming” (for profit) or “halfway houses” (for former criminals). They are “supportive housing for outgoing patients facing mental health challenges”, according to Debora Jesus, from LOFT.

Nor are they likely for profit. They are owned by the hospital, and LOFT is a charity, not a business. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems impossible. (And I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Weston has a large problem with petty crime. I don’t think so.)

But LOFT and the HRH don’t come out of this blameless.

I don’t think they did enough consultation, or sought opinions from far enough around the community.

I’m far from a good barometer, but I do try to keep attuned to what’s going on in Weston. I didn’t hear about LOFT’s “information session” (notably, not a consultation) until after it had passed.

I wasn’t the only one. Several members of the Weston Village Neighbours group didn’t know about it, and MPP Faisal Hassan wrote a letter to the CEO of LOFT saying he would have hoped to have been included. He wasn’t.

He also wrote “I … urge you to have broad community consultations and to involve local residents and elected officials such as myself.”

LOFT, for their part, says that they met with the WVRA and Frances Nunziata, and circulated flyers in a 3-block radius.

They also say, however, that “there are no further in-person meetings planned”.

This sort of stuff isn’t rocket science. I’m in favour of supportive housing, but LOFT should have known—or been told—that Weston gets quite enough “information” and not enough consultation from developers, Metrolinx, and, yes, the Humber River Regional Hospital. (Which announced years ago that they would be selling the property until, whoops, community members told them that they legally couldn’t.)

All Westonians will be eligible for a vaccine

It looks like all Westonians and Mount Denizens will be prioritized for vaccination. The details and timeline are not yet clear, but the province has said that mobile vaccination teams and pop-up clinics will come to “highly impacted neighbourhoods” and will give vaccinations “to individuals aged 18 and over.”

The mobile vaccination teams will visit “congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers”. It appears that the clinics will serve the rest of the community at faith-based locations and community centres.

Image via TVO

Those 50+ will also be able to get vaccinated at the city’s clinics starting on Friday; until now they’d only been vaccinated locally.

Image via TVO