Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence is being dug up again; this time it’s electrical work to upgrade power for the upcoming electrification of GO train service.

According to Toronto Hydro, “Please be advised that Toronto Hydro is planning to rebuild and relocate the overhead and underground electrical system in the community in preparation for the GO Expansion Electrification program.” The timeline is a vague June-July 2020.

Thanks to Covid-19, the restriction to one lane of traffic along both routes isn’t causing major upheavals.

I wonder if workers have discovered any artifacts at this (for Toronto) relatively ancient intersection.

Weston Pool getting ready to go but will it open?

City staff are preparing Weston’s open air pool for opening once again this year but before welcoming guests for summer 2020, its opening will need the blessing of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health along with the MOH for Ontario.

Will the pool open this year or will the Covid-19 virus end a 61-year tradition?

The pool getting prepped for 2020.

The MOHs will decide whether chlorinated water and fresh air will diminish the Covid virus sufficiently to warrant opening once school’s out er, would have been out for the summer. They will be pondering whether swimmers and paddling pool tots can be kept a safe distance apart.

The pool could be a great place for kids to use up some of that quarantine energy that’s been building for the past few weeks.

Incidentally, I peeked into the empty pool and there is an impressive deep end edging up to the tennis courts. When the pool was built in 1959, there must have been at least one board or platform so that this wing of the pool was reserved for diving.

An impressive deep end.

Sadly, the platform(s) disappeared years ago to be replaced by a lifeguard chair in our safety-conscious times.

I think I answered my own question.

Weston is a hotspot for COVID

Weston, Mount Dennis, and Humber Heights are hotspots for the COVID virus, with some of the highest rates of infection in the city. Excluding healthcare transmissions, Weston is the second-most infected neighbourhood.

The city released data yesterday that showed the geographic distribution of COVID sufferers.

 

  • Humber Heights, just across the river, has the highest rate in the city, with 1525 cases per 100,000 residents. 
  • Weston has the second-highest rate in the city: 1022 per 100,000.
  • Mount Dennis is fifth, with 904 cases per 100,000.

This is, of course, terrible and tragic, but it may be explainable by a higher concentration of nursing homes, which have been responsible for many transmissions.

In part, this is the case: excluding institutional cases, Mount Dennis and Humber Heights fall to a more typical number of cases. Weston, however, does not.

If we don’t count the number of cases in nursing homes and elder care, Weston has 705 cases per 100,000 residents—15 times the number in the beaches, and 6 times the number in the Junction.

Only nearby Maple Leaf has more cases. Weston has the second-highest infection rate in the city, and therefore among the highest infection rates in Ontario, since COVID cases are concentrated in the GTA.

 

Long Term Care Homes

A few years ago my father-in-law was a resident in a local, well known long-term care home. This was when homes were better funded and unlike today (thank you Mike Harris), the home was non-profit. He was recovering from a series of minor strokes, had Parkinson’s disease, was incontinent and while he could walk around, had been reduced to a child-like state.

My elderly and disabled mother-in-law visited him daily and it was soon obvious that there was a disquieting and sinister undercurrent running through the place. Many of the residents were physically disabled – victims of strokes or accidents and they and their relatives lived in fear of retaliation by staff if they spoke out about conditions in the home. My MIL discovered that at mealtimes, residents would be served and the meal would often be untouched after 30 minutes when it would be removed. Like several others, she ended up hiring an attendant to feed her husband so that he wouldn’t die of starvation.

At the home, staff had somehow persuaded management that uniforms were authoritarian and intimidating, so they wandered around indistinguishable from visitors. Residents would be left in soiled diapers for hours and changed grudgingly as if it was a great favour. Many residents were tied to their chairs so they wouldn’t be a nuisance between mealtimes. I was drafted to write letters, put on a suit and do battle with management (several times) and things slowly improved for my FIL. Sadly, few others had relatives who could or would do this. In those days, the only alternative, home care, was even less adequate than it is today.

Fast forward to the pandemic of 2020 and behold the sight of Premier Ford blinking  with emotion and surprise that the Canadian Armed Forces had reported squalid conditions and seemingly criminal neglect in the care homes where they had been assigned.

Long Term Care Minister Dr. Merrilee Fullerton seems equally bemused but that’s better than admitting that the reason might be that the Ford government reduced funding and inspections (an average home can now expect a full inspection once every 100 years). Add to that years of neglect by governments of all parties and long term care residents were sitting targets. Upwards of 80% of Ontario Covid-19 deaths have been in care homes. The highest rates have been in homes that were for profit. This was largely due to a lack of direction from Minister Fullerton and the systemic exploitation of low-paid agency workers, forced  to work in several locations in order to make a living.

Health Minister (and former Long Term Health Care Minister) Christine Elliott claims to know nothing about long term care home conditions but she may have a short memory.

The Feds no doubt are secretly pleased that the Army embarrassed Ford but they’ve got skin in the game.

There’s no shortage of blame to go round. Read about the Armed Forces report here and the actual document here.

Ford will resist holding an inquiry or changing the legislation. He’ll hope that the heat will die down and the public will be satisfied with a few dramatic band-aid gestures.

That won’t cut it.

If we’re stuck with private companies running long term care homes for a profit, there should be strong legislation to safeguard residents including standards of care, staffing levels, supervisory community involvement and rigorous, frequent, meaningful inspections.

Let’s see if Premier Ford’s tears are real or theatrical.