More than 1800 Ontario doctors have signed an open letter to the public and government calling for immediate changes in the current COVID response. At a news conference Friday morning Doctors said the hospital system is on the verge of collapse unless changes are made. The letter urges the public to contact their MPP, the Minister of Health and the Premier to call for changes in the way the system is responding to the third wave of the pandemic,
Among the changes are:
- enable companies to use more COVID testing across their factories, warehouses, grocery stores and construction sites.
- create an equitable and transparent process to take vaccines right into the workplaces that are most at risk.
- mandate that companies give workers paid ‘COVID recovery days’ so they can stay at home if they are sick and can quarantine for two weeks without worrying about losing their jobs if they’ve had a confirmed close contact with someone with COVID. Premier Ford has already said he will not do that, but will fill in the gaps in the federal program to make it easier for workers to stay home when sick or when isolating. The doctors pointed out that it costs us $3,592 for every day someone spends in the ICU and $114 a day to pay for a minimum wage worker to stay home when sick.
- ensure that only people who absolutely have to be at work in person to do their jobs are allowed to be there. Create benefits or fines so businesses will want to support everyone who can work from home to do so, and enforce these with unannounced visits from the Ministry of Labour.
- require all workers to wear masks in all work spaces, the entire time they are at work, just as your children have to do when they are at school, only removing their masks to eat in a socially distanced manner.
prioritize vaccination for the people at the highest risk of catching, spreading and getting sick from COVID.
Send many more of the available doses to the hotspots identified by the Ontario Science Advisory Table. This has begun in some areas around the GTA.
Ensure that the plan for vaccine distribution is transparent to members of the public and that appointments are easy to access
- Provide the public with clear, consistent information:
- Improve public messaging about the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine and about the relatively low risk of blood clots compared to the vaccine’s very large personal and community benefits.
- Remind the public that it is still risky to go into stores and other indoor settings for longer than absolutely necessary.
- Encourage people to continue masking, to stay home as much as possible and to stay away from people outside their households.
- Provide clear, practical, current and reliable guidance for all Ontarians, whether they have been vaccinated once, twice or not at all. Tell them what is safe to do and not to do right now, and acknowledge that this will change as the virus changes, as scientists learn more and as more people are vaccinated.
The full text is available here.