By Joe Grogan/Retired Member
As we all try to deal with the terrible results of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should not let a troubling trend go unnoticed, banks and governments pushing us in a direction not everyone wants to go.
Let’s start with banks. As a result of the health crisis, they are now trying to get all account holders to do their banking virtually. This may be of value to some but not to folks like me who are still going to a branch to do my banking with a staff member. This helps me and the bank employee. Why? I have better records of my banking and the staffer has job security. The banks are trying to encourage everyone not to do their banking in person using health and safety of bank employees as the reason. Really? In my opinion, the true agenda is the increase in corporate profits this electronic approach produces.
Another example of corporate rule is the tragedy we see with the deaths of our elderly in private nursing homes and retirement facilities. As of today, more than 70 per cent of fatalities from COVID-19 are seniors. Meanwhile the same places retain their excess profits gained through the warehousing of our elderly in such institutions; the operating approach is out of sight, out of mind.
And what about our levels of government? How does the pandemic increase their power? Well, we have Prime Minister Trudeau making daily public announcements as to what programs are being promoted to put the economy back together. The public does not see the negotiations that have gone on behind the scenes where opposition parties have tried to protect workers and increase real improvements. The other parties are invisible in such a situation because there is little public debate to hold the government to account. The message from the Prime Minister and his cabinet is entirely controlled and sanitized.
The same thing applies to Premier Ford. There has been no possibility to hold him and his government to account for the under-funding of seniors’ care and health care. Meanwhile, residents in long-term care facilities continue to die. No explanation of the neglect to build a supply of needed protective equipment until well into the crisis, ignoring key lessons from SARS over 10 years ago.
Local municipalities such as in Caledon have gone entirely to virtual town meetings with only the mayor and three bureaucrats from the town, while the councillors only have access in a virtual reality. There is a phone hook up for the public to “participate” but few do. Meeting minutes have been described as “fluff” with no details on actual discussions explaining decisions. How does such a situation promote accountability and transparency, never mind democracy? This is a very dangerous approach.
So, what is to be done? Continue to raise questions, Demand services from the corporations. Complain. Use the union’s resources to mobilize and educate members. Stay in touch with members of opposition parties. We don’t need more control over our lives in the name of promoting health and safety of employees and the public. If this was a real commitment, why only now?