Ever since Ontario’s seventh wave began with the rise to dominance of the more-transmissible, immunity-evading BA.5 variant in July 2022, Ontario’s 34 health units have been disturbingly silent, giving little or no advice or guidance on how we should be protecting ourselves and our families. One of the possible explanations which I have heard and personally consider credible is the Ford government’s stated intention of “modernizing” health units by consolidating them down to only 10. The obvious implication is that, when it proceeds, 24 medical officers of health would be let go. From that perspective, speaking out when our all-powerful Premier is on the record as having declared the pandemic “done” would be very risky from a job-security perspective.
Coincidentally or not, our own Health Unit has pared its previously daily COVID statistical reporting down to only once weekly, on Tuesday afternoons with a minimal set of statistics which now excludes such basic indicators as COVID deaths and ICU admissions, which other more independent-minded Public Health Units such as Ottawa’s are continuing to make available through their local media.
Remarkably, thanks to our then proactive, province-leading Health Unit, no Kingstonians died in 2020. We subsequently suffered 22 fatalities in 2021 and 80 in 2022. April and October of 2022 were for Kingston the deadliest months of the entire pandemic.