Transcript: Should Ontario Let Omicron Rip? | Jan 12, 2022

Steve Paikin sits in his home office, which has the Ontario flag and a framed photograph of Walter Kronkite hanging on white walls behind him.
Steve wears a light blue dress shirt and a red and silver striped tie. He is clean-shaven and has short brown hair.

Text reads, Should Ontario Let Omicron Rip?
@spaikin @theagenda

Steve says, NEARLY TWO YEARS
INTO LIVING WITH COVID-19, THERE
IS A DEFINITE DISAPPOINTMENT AND
FATIGUE IN THE LAND THAT WE
SOMEHOW HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO PUT
THIS DEFINITIVELY BEHIND US YET.
WE HAVE ONE OF THE HIGHEST
VACCINATION RATES IN THE WORLD.
WE HAVE CLOSED SCHOOLS AND
BUSINESSES AND STAYED HOME.
AND YET, COVID PERSISTS, PERHAPS
MORE VIRULENTLY THAN EVER.
IS IT TIME FOR A DIFFERENT
APPROACH?
LET'S ASK OUR GUESTS, AND AS IS
OUR CUSTOM, WE'LL INTRODUCE THEM
FROM FURTHEST AWAY TO CLOSEST TO
OUR STUDIO, STARTING:
IN BOCA RATON, FLORIDA WITH;
PETER SHURMAN, HE'S THE HOST OF
THE PODCAST, SHURMAN UNLIMITED,
AND A FORMER PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF THE
ONTARIO LEGISLATURE.

Peter sits in his bedroom in front of a queen-sized bed covered with a white and grey duvet. A brown and white nightstand matches the bedframe. Peter wears a light blue button-down shirt with the collar open. He wears wire-rimmed glasses and has short white hair.

Steve continues, IN HAMILTON, ONTARIO:
SARA FUNG, A REGISTERED NURSE
AND CO-HOST OF THE GRITTY NURSE
PODCAST.

Sara sits in her bedroom in front of a queen-sized bed covered with a white duvet. The walls of her bedroom are white. Sara has long dark hair and wears a grey and white patterned sweater.

Steve continues, AND BACK HERE IN ONTARIO'S
CAPITAL CITY:
DR. PETER JUNI, SCIENTIFIC
DIRECTOR OF THE ONTARIO COVID-19
SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE AND A
PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND
EPIDEMIOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF TORONTO.

Peter sits in a home office with white walls and doors. A black desk chair sits behind him. Peter has wavy grey hair and a neatly trimmed salt and pepper beard. He wears a black and white gingham-style button-down shirt.

Steve continues, AND JAN DE SILVA, CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE TORONTO
REGION BOARD OF TRADE.

Jan sits in her living room, which has white walls and light wooden flooring. A blue couch and a side table with candles on it sit to her left. Jan has shoulder-length grey hair. She wears a beige blazer with a grey animal print scarf.

Steve continues, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU FOUR ON
TVO TONIGHT FOR A DISCUSSION
THAT I WANT TO START WITH A VERY
OPEN-ENDED QUESTION HERE.
HOWEVER YOU WOULD DESCRIBE WHAT
ONTARIO'S APPROACH HAS BEEN FOR
THE PAST 22 MONTHS, I ASK EACH
OF YOU: IS IT TIME FOR A
DIFFERENT APPROACH TO FIGHTING
COVID-19?
PETER, START US OFF, IF YOU
WOULD?

Text reads, A Different Approach?
Peter Shurman. Shurman Unlimited Podcast.

Dr. Juni says, RADICALLY
DIFFERENT.
IN MY VIEW, LOOKING AT WHAT'S
HAPPENED OVER THE PAST TWO
YEARS, AND IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE
POPULAR VIEW, I HAPPEN TO THINK
THAT ONTARIO'S DONE VERY WELL.
I THINK THAT THE FORD GOVERNMENT
TAKING BABY STEPS AT FIRST AND
BEING MAYBE OVERZEALOUS WITH
LOCKDOWNS HELPED US AN AWFUL LOT
TWO YEARS AGO.
THE DIFFICULTY THAT WE'RE IN NOW
IS THAT OFT-USED EXPRESSION:
WASH, LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT.
IF IT WORKED TWO YEARS AGO, IT
MUST BE OKAY FOR THIS TIME, AND
I DON'T THINK THAT'S TRUE.
AND WE SEE IT, LOOKING AROUND
THE UNITED STATES, PARTICULARLY
WHERE I HAPPEN TO BE FOR THE
PAST MONTH OR FIVE WEEKS, AND I
KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE WITH THIS
ILLNESS AND THE SCOPE OF IT, AND
I DON'T THINK IT WARRANTS WHAT
WE DID.
AND I THINK THE DAMAGE, THE
COLLATERAL DAMAGE, AND I'M
TALKING NOW ABOUT OUR KIDS AND
THE WHOLE ISSUE OF BUSINESSES,
PEOPLE WITH HUGE MORTGAGES ON
THEIR HOUSE TO TRY TO KEEP THE
BUSINESS ALIVE, I THINK THAT
DAMAGE IS GOING TO BE FAR WORSE
THAN OMICRON WOULD HAVE BROUGHT
TO US.

Steve says, JAN DE SILVA, YOUR
VIEW?

Text reads, Jan De Silva. Toronto Board of Trade.

Jan says, I THINK WE
NEED TO STOP ADDRESSING COVID
AS A SHORT-TERM ISSUE.
TWO YEARS IN, CLEARLY THERE'S NO
FINISH LINE IN SIGHT.
AND FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY,
WE NEED TO BE, YES, CONTINUING
TO FOCUS ON VACCINATION, BUT
ALSO PUTTING EVERY ADDITIONAL
LAYER OF PROTECTION IN PLACE TO
KEEP OUR BUSINESSES OPEN, TO
ENABLE US TO CONTINUE TO GATHER
AND MEET.
THIS BOTTOM OF THE 9TH APPROACH
TO THE PANDEMIC IS SIMPLY NOT
HELPING US AND WE'RE LOOKING FOR
THOSE ADDITIONAL PROTECTION
LAYERS.

Steve says, OKAY.
I HAVE -- THERE'S BEEN A METHOD
TO MY MADNESS HERE.
I'VE WANTED TO HEAR FROM THE
QUOTE, UNQUOTE, CIVILIANS,
BEFORE WE GET TO THE MEDICAL
PEOPLE, AND NOW, SARA FUNG,
LET'S HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY
ON THIS.

Text reads, Sara Fung. Registered Nurse.

Sara says, I THINK THE
APPROACH OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS
HAS BEEN HAPHAZARD AT BEST.
THERE IS A LOT OF EVIDENCE OUT
THERE, A LOT THAT CAME OUT OF
SARS IF YOU REMEMBER BACK TO
2002, 2003, AND ONE OF THE THINGS
I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN
LOOKING AT FROM THE BEGINNING AS
A PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.
AT THE BEGINNING, WHEN WE DIDN'T
KNOW A LOT ABOUT COVID AND HOW
IT WAS SPREAD, I THINK WE SHOULD
HAVE TREATED IT AS THOUGH IT WAS
AIRBORNE AND PUT ALL THOSE
PRECAUTIONS INTO PLACE UNTIL WE
LEARNED MORE.
EVEN IN TERMS OF THE RECENT
SHUTDOWNS, I BELIEVE WE'RE ON
OUR FOURTH SHUTDOWN NOW, I HAVE
TWO KIDS THAT ARE IN SCHOOL, AND
IT'S REALLY IMPACTED THEM IN A
NEGATIVE WAY.
AND I THINK AT THIS POINT, THOSE
OF US THAT HAVE DONE EVERYTHING
WE SHOULD BE DOING SHOULD BE
ALLOWED TO HAVE MORE FREEDOM.
AND IN TERMS OF GETTING BACK TO
QUOTE, UNQUOTE, REGULAR
PRE-PANDEMIC LIFE, I THINK
THAT'S SOMETHING WE NEED TO
FOCUS ON.

Steve says, OKAY.
DR. PETER JUNI, LET'S HEAR WHAT
YOU HAVE TO SAY ON THAT SCORE.

Text reads, Peter Juni. Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table.

Dr. Juni says, I THINK
IT'S INEVITABLE, THINGS ARE
CHANGING.
IT'S CHANGING NOW WITH OMICRON.
OMICRON IS A REALLY BIG
CHALLENGE.
WE NEED TO BE REALLY CAREFUL
THAT OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
DOESN'T GET OVERWHELMED.
WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF THAT WE
DID ACTUALLY TREMENDOUSLY WELL
DURING THE LAST THREE WAVES,
INCLUDING THE DELTA WAVE.
THIS WORKED ABSOLUTELY
FABULOUSLY ACTUALLY IN TERMS OF,
YOU KNOW, BEING SLOW AND STEADY.
THIS APPROACH WORKED.
AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER
OMICRON IS NEARLY EVERYBODY WILL
HAVE HAD SOME IMMUNITY.
QUITE A FEW PEOPLE UNFORTUNATELY
THROUGH INFECTION ONLY, BUT
QUITE A LOT OF US THROUGH A
COMBINATION OF INFECTION AND
VACCINATION OR JUST VACCINATION,
AND THIS WILL CHANGE THE FACE OF
THE PANDEMIC AND WE WILL NOT
HAVE THE SAME CHALLENGES TO FACE
ANYMORE THAN WHAT WE ARE HAVING
RIGHT NOW.
RIGHT NOW, IT'S A FEW MORE WEEKS,
BUT IT'S NOT FOR LONG.

Steve says, ALL RIGHT.
LET ME DO ANOTHER ROUND WITH THE
FOUR OF YOU BECAUSE I'M HEARING
VARIOUS DEGREES OF RELATIVE
UNHAPPINESS WITH THE WAY THE
CURRENT ONTARIO GOVERNMENT HAS
APPROACHED THIS, AND I GUESS,
PETER, IF I WERE TO ASK YOU,
TELL ME ONE THING ABOUT THE
CURRENT ONTARIO GOVERNMENT'S
APPROACH THAT YOU THINK NEEDS TO
BE CHANGED RIGHT AWAY, WHAT'S
THAT ONE THING?

Text reads, Peter Shurman. Former PC MPP.

Dr. Juni says, OPEN
EVERYTHING UP.
THE BUSINESS ASPECTS AND THE
SCHOOL ASPECTS.
NOW, I KNOW SCHOOL IS GOING BACK
INTO SESSION NEXT WEEK.
THAT'S GREAT FOR THE KIDS.
BUT BUSINESS HAS TO OPERATE AS
WELL, AND I'D LIKE TO SEE IT GO
FORWARD THAT WAY.

Steve says, JAN DE SILVA, ONE
THING THE GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO
CHANGE TODAY?

Jan says, LOOK, WE'VE
GOT A HEALTH CRISIS THAT'S BEING
ENABLED BY A DATA CRISIS.
THE FRUSTRATIONS THAT OUR
BUSINESSES HAVE IS THAT THERE'S
NO PROOF POINTS THAT THE GYM OR
THE RESTAURANT OR THE SMALL
RETAILER WAS THE CAUSE OF THE
OUTBREAK.
SO, EXPANDING THE VERIFY ONTARIO
APP TO HAVE MORE ROBUST CONTACT
TRACING AND EXPOSURE
NOTIFICATION WOULD GIVE US
MUCH-NEEDED DATA TO BETTER PUT
STEPS IN PLACE AND TO HELP
BUSINESSES UNDERSTAND WHY
MEASURES THAT ARE BEING PUT IN
PLACE ARE REQUIRED.

Steve says, SARA FUNG, ONE THING
THEY SHOULD CHANGE TODAY?

Sara says, THE GOVERNMENT
NEEDS TO FIRST AND FOREMOST
REPEAL BILL 124 WHICH AS YOU
KNOW CAPS THE WAGES OF NURSES
AND OTHER PUBLIC SERVANTS AT
LESS THAN 1% OVER THE NEXT THREE
YEARS.
SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAS
BEEN HUGELY DISEMPOWERING TO
NURSES AT A TIME WHERE WE WERE
BEING HAILED AS HEALTH CARE
HEROES.
WE HAVEN'T REALLY SEEN ANY
TANGIBLE STEPS TOWARDS IMPROVING
OUR SITUATION.
NURSES ARE LEAVING IN
UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS, AND THIS
HAS REALLY AFFECTED THE HEALTH
CARE SYSTEM.
YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF ENTIRE
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS CLOSING
FOR WEEKS AT A TIME.
SO, THIS IS ALREADY IMPACTING
HEALTH CARE.
AND WHEN THE GOVERNMENT IS
TALKING ABOUT INCREASING BED
SPACES, THAT'S GREAT.
BUT IS THERE A NURSE?
IS THERE A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
AT THE END OF THE DAY TO LOOK
AFTER THESE PATIENTS THAT ARE
SICKER AND COMING IN WITH ISSUES
RELATED TO OMICRON?

Steve says, LET ME DO A FAST
FOLLOW-UP ON THAT, SARA.
I WANT TO UNDERSTAND.
ARE YOU SAYING THAT IF BILL 124
WERE REPEALED AND THAT THIS
INSISTENCE ON BRINGING IN PUBLIC
SECTOR CONTRACTS NO MORE THAN 1%
SETTLEMENTS, IF, FOR EXAMPLE,
NURSES COULD GET 3 OR 4 OR 5%
INCREASES IN THEIR CONTRACTS,
ARE YOU PRETTY MUCH GUARANTEEING
US THAT WE WOULDN'T BE SEEING
THE EXODUS FROM THE PROFESSION
THAT WE ARE RIGHT NOW?

Sara says, I THINK YOU'D
SEE A VAST IMPROVEMENT.
SO WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE
CAP ON WAGES, WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT A CAP AT A TIME WHERE
INFLATION IS INCREASING RAPIDLY.
SO, IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY.
BUT FIRST AND FOREMOST, I THINK
IT'S MORE ABOUT THE RESPECT THAT
NURSES ARE OWED.
AND PART OF THAT IS ALLOWING US
TO BE ABLE TO BARGAIN FREELY, AND
FOR ALL OF THE WORK THAT WE DO
EVERY SINGLE DAY, WE'RE TAKING A
RISK ON THE JOB.
WE'RE DEALING WITH INCREASED
INCIDENCES OF VERBAL AND
PHYSICAL ABUSE.
AND I THINK THIS IS
[INDISCERNIBLE] THAT THIS
LEGISLATION HAS BEEN IMPOSED ON
US.
SO I THINK IT WOULD GREATLY HELP
THE SITUATION.

Steve says, OKAY.
NOW, PETER JUNI -- HOW DO I PUT
THIS?
I APPRECIATE THE FACT, I DON'T
WANT TO PUT YOU IN A STICKY
SITUATION HERE BECAUSE YOU ARE
AT ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
TABLES THAT ADVISES THE CURRENT
PREMIER AND HIS CABINET ON WHAT
TO DO, AND SO I'M NOT ASKING
YOU TO VIOLATE ANY CONFIDENCES
ABOUT THE ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE,
BUT I STILL WOULD BE CURIOUS TO
GET YOUR TAKE ON WHETHER YOU
THINK THERE'S ONE THING IN
PARTICULAR WE OUGHT TO BE DOING
DIFFERENTLY NOW FROM WHAT WE'VE
BEEN DOING OVER THE LAST 22
MONTHS?

Text reads, Peter Juni. University of Toronto.

Dr. Juni says, OH, LOOK,
ONE OF THE ASPECTS THAT IS
IMPORTANT NOW IS THAT SCHOOLS
REOPEN NEXT WEEK.
AND THAT'S IMPORTANT, YOU KNOW,
THAT WE KNOW IT WILL DO TWO
THINGS: WE GET STUDENTS BACK TO
SCHOOL.
THIS WILL BE A BUMPY ROAD BUT
IT'S POSSIBLE WE HOPEFULLY
CONTINUE WITH VACCINATING ALSO A
LOT OF THE KIDS, 5 TO 11 YEAR
OLDS.
AND THE OTHER PART WE NEED TO
STABILIZE HOSPITAL OCCUPANCY AND
ICU OCCUPANCY, AND THAT'S THE
NEXT TASK AT HAND.
AND OBVIOUSLY BETTER STAFFING
WOULD HELP THERE.
BUT THE POINT IS NOT TO USE
SCHOOLS ANYMORE AS A LEVER TO
CONTROL THE PANDEMIC, AND THAT'S
ABOUT TO HAPPEN NOW.

Steve says, LET ME DO A QUICK
FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU HERE AS WELL
BECAUSE WE -- I THINK WE'VE
HEARD THAT WE'VE VACCINATED
ALMOST 80% OF ONTARIANS, WHICH
IS A PRETTY GOOD NUMBER,
RELATIVELY SPEAKING, AND THAT
SHOULD DRAMATICALLY REDUCE, IF
NOT THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WHO
GET INFECTED, THEN CERTAINLY THE
SEVERITY OF THE DISEASE IN HOW
THEY EXPERIENCE IT, AND
CERTAINLY, THE NUMBER OF DEATHS
AS WELL.
SO MY QUESTION IS: GIVEN THAT WE
DON'T HAVE A VERY LARGE PART OF
THE POPULATION THAT IS STILL
UNVACCINATED, SHOULD WE OPEN UP
SOCIETY A LOT MORE -- YOU'LL
FORGIVE THE EXPRESSION -- JUST
LET HER RIP AND LET PEOPLE GET
THEIR IMMUNITY HOWEVER THEY GET
IT?

Dr. Juni says, IT IS NOT
POSSIBLE.
WHAT PETER WAS SAYING IS NOT
REALISTIC FOR ONTARIO.
IF WE LET IT RIP, OUR HOSPITAL
OCCUPANCY WOULD INCREASE FAR TOO
MUCH.
IF SOMEBODY LIKE PETER THEN IS
HAVING A HEART ATTACK, GOD
FORBID, THEN THEY WON'T GET THE
CARE ANYMORE THAT THEY ACTUALLY
WOULD NEED TO -- RIGHT NOW WE
JUST NEED TO STABILIZE NUMBERS.
WE NEED TO RIDE OUT THIS WAVE,
THAT'S FOR SURE THE CASE, AND AT
THE END OF THE WAVE, NEARLY
EVERYBODY WILL HAVE HAD SOME
IMMUNITY.
BUT RIGHT NOW, THE NUMBERS OF
UNVACCINATED, EVEN THOUGH WE
WERE TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL,
YOU KNOW, DESPITE STRUCTURAL
DISADVANTAGES, WITH A LOT OF,
YOU KNOW, ETHNIC DIVERSITY,
ET CETERA, WHICH MAKES IT MORE
DIFFICULT TO GET TO A HIGH
VACCINE COVERAGE, WE DID
TREMENDOUSLY WELL.
WE STILL NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT
ALL THOSE WHO ARE NOT IMMUNE ARE
MOVED INTO IMMUNITY NOW WITHOUT
OVERWHELMING THE HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM.
IT NEEDS A LITTLE BIT LONGER,
BUT NOT THAT MUCH.

Steve says, WELL, NOT TO BE TOO
GLIB ABOUT THIS BUT I'VE KNOWN
PETER FOR A LONG TIME AND HE
TENDS TO GIVE HEART ATTACKS AS
OPPOSED TO GET THEM.
MAYBE, PETER, I COULD GET YOU TO
RESPOND TO THOSE COMMENTS FROM
DR. JUNI, WHO SAYS IF WE DO WHAT
YOU SAY, OUR HOSPITALS AND ICUS
WILL BE OVERWHELMED AND THAT
WILL BE A BIGGER PROBLEM.

Dr. Juni says, WELL, I
RESPECT DR. JUNI.
I'VE SPOKEN TO HIM A NUMBER OF
TIMES.
HE'S THE RIGHT GUY AT THE RIGHT
TIME AT THE RIGHT TABLE.
SO I DON'T WANT TO GET INTO A
HEAD-TO-HEAD ON THE ONE HAND.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I'VE
INTERVIEWED A COUPLE OF PEOPLE
IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS WHO ARE
SERIOUS PHYSICIANS IN OTHER
PLACES, ONE WHO HAS A MASTER'S
IN PUBLIC HEALTH AS WELL AS
BEING A MICROBIOLOGIST, AN
EPIDEMIOLOGIST, HAS A COUPLE OF
PHDS, AND IS LOOKING AT AN AREA
OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA THAT HAS
BEEN MASSIVELY AFFECTED AND HE
SAYS THERE'S NOT MUCH YOU'RE
GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS.
EVERYBODY IS GOING TO GET THIS
THING.
SOONER OR LATER, EVERYBODY IS.
MYSELF, SITTING HERE IN FLORIDA,
OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST
WEEKEND WE SAW 70,000 CASES.
AND I KNOW NOBODY WANTS TO TALK
ABOUT CASES ANYMORE, DR. JUNI,
THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT
HOSPITALIZATIONS, AS DO YOU, AND
I UNDERSTAND THAT.
I'M LOOKING AT THE HEADROOM, IN
OTHER WORDS THE NUMBER OF ICU
BEDS, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT REMAIN
AVAILABLE AT THE PRESENT TIME,
AND I THINK IN ONTARIO, IF I'M
NOT MISTAKEN, IT'S AROUND 500.
I ALSO LOOKED AT STATISTICS FROM
DELTA GOING BACK INTO
SEPTEMBER-AUGUST AREA, AND I
LOOKED AT THEM IN FLORIDA, WHICH
IS A STATE OF 22 MILLION.
THEY HAD 17,000 HOSPITALIZATIONS
AT ONE POINT.
RIGHT NOW IT'S IN THE AREA OF
10,000 OR 11,000.
AND I'M ALSO TOLD BY A NUMBER OF
EXPERTS, AND YOU JUST MENTIONED
IT YOURSELF, ALLUDED TO IT
ANYWAY, THAT WE'RE PROBABLY
BETWEEN TWO AND FOUR WEEKS AWAY
FROM SEEING THIS THING TAKE A
CURVE THAT JUST SLIDES RIGHT
DOWN.
SO, WE'RE NOT DEALING WITH A
DISEASE, THOUGH IT'S CALLED
COVID-19, THAT IS ANYTHING LIKE
WHAT DELTA WAS, MUCH LESS THE
ORIGINAL COVID THAT CAME OUR
WAY TWO YEARS AGO.

Steve says, LET ME GET DR. JUNI
TO RESPOND AND THEN I'LL GET THE
OTHERS IN AS WELL.

Dr. Juni says, REMEMBER,
IT'S A NUMBERS AGAIN.
ONE THING THAT DISTINGUISHES US
LUCKILY FROM FLORIDA OR
CALIFORNIA IS THAT OUR IMMUNITY
THROUGH INFECTION IS LOWER,
MEANING ALSO WE HAD A LOT LESS
DEATHS.
AND THE POINT RIGHT NOW IS YOU
NEED TO BE AWARE OF THAT.
A LOT OF WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR
ICUS AND JUST IN OUR ACUTE
CARE WARDS IS NOT DOMINATED BY
COVID, LUCKILY SO, BUT A LOT OF
OUR BEDS ARE OCCUPIED BY PEOPLE
WHO NEED TO BE THERE, WHO NEED
TO RECEIVE THEIR CARE, AND THIS
NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO HAPPEN
RIGHT NOW.
AND THE POINT REALLY IS, WE NEED
TO RIDE OUT THIS WAVE, BUT WE
CAN'T HAVE A HIGH VERY SHORT
WAVE.
OTHERWISE, WE'RE IN TROUBLE.
WE NEED TO PROLONG ALL OF THIS A
BIT SO THAT OUR HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM IS REALLY JUST ABOUT TO
BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH IT.
AND WE'RE JUST AT THE EXTRA
STEP.

Steve says, JAN DE SILVA, YOU'VE
HEARD THE ARGUMENTS.
DO YOU THINK BUSINESS IS
CAPABLE, GIVEN THE PLANS THAT
ARE IN PLACE RIGHT NOW, TO RIDE
OUT WHAT MIGHT BE ANOTHER TWO OR
THREE WEEKS OF STATUS QUO?
CAN BUSINESS HANDLE THAT?

Text reads, The Problem with Shutdowns.

Jan says, LOOK, CLEARLY
WE NEED TO.
THAT'S WHAT'S REQUIRED AT THIS
POINT IN TIME.
BUT WHERE WE KEEP COMING BACK
TO, STEPPING AWAY FROM TREATING
THIS AS A SHORT-TERM SITUATION,
AND PUTTING MORE LAYERS OF
PROTECTION IN PLACE.
THE REALITY IN OUR REGIONAL
ECONOMY IS THAT 51% OF OUR
WORKERS NEED TO BE PHYSICALLY ON
SITE.
SO IT'S SIMPLY NOT SUFFICIENT TO
SAY, OKAY, FOR A COUPLE OF
WEEKS, LET'S JUST WORK FROM HOME
TO KIND OF REDUCE CONTACT.
WE NEED TO PUT LAYERS OF
PROTECTION IN PLACE.
RESTAURANTS.
LET'S UNDERSTAND IF THERE'S
VENTILATION OR AIRBORNE RELATED
ISSUES THAT WE CAN PUT
MITIGATIONS IN PLACE.
OUR HOSPITALS, OUR POLICE
SERVICES, OUR LOGISTICS
PROVIDERS -- WE ALL NEED TO BE
LOOKING AT HOW DO WE KEEP THOSE
WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENTS AS SAFE
AS POSSIBLE TO AVOID ABSENTEEISM
AND TO TRY TO KEEP THE ECONOMY
FUNCTIONING.

Steve says, WELL, THAT'S THE
KEY, JAN.
I WONDER, HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU
THAT BUSINESSES COULD OPEN UP
AGAIN, TAKE ALL THE RESTRICTIONS
OFF SMALL BUSINESS IN
PARTICULAR, WHICH ARE SUFFERING
A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF THE
DAMAGE COMPARED TO BIGGER
BUSINESSES, BIG BOX STORES IN
PARTICULAR, HOW CONFIDENT ARE
YOU THAT WE COULD DO THAT AND
NOT OVERRUN OUR HOSPITALS OR
ICUS?

Jan says, NO, WITH ALL
DEFERENCE TO DR. JUNI, FULLY
AGREE.
WE'VE GOT A CHALLENGE WITH OUR
HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THIS
PROVINCE AND IN OTHER PROVINCES
IN CANADA.
IT'S SIMPLY NOT ELASTIC.
IT'S FIXED.
WE'VE GOT FIXED CAPACITY.
AND AT POINTS LIKE THIS WHERE
WE'RE SEEING AN OVERFLOODING OF
UTILIZATION OF THE HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM, WE DO NEED TO TAKE THESE
STEPS.
BUT WHAT I WOULD GO BACK TO,
LET'S TALK, STEVE, ABOUT THE
SMALL BUSINESSES YOU'RE
REFERRING TO.
A BIG CHALLENGE WE HAVE IS WE'VE
HAD INCONSISTENCIES OF APPROACH.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS SAID
FEDERALLY REGULATED BUSINESSES
NEED TO REQUIRE VACCINE MANDATES
FOR ON-THE-JOB WORKERS.
THE PROVINCES SIMPLY SAID, FOR
THOSE BUSINESSES THAT DON'T FALL
UNDER FEDERAL REGULATIONS, YOU
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
AND EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS ARE
SAYING, WELL, YOU'VE GOT RISKS,
ONTARIO BUSINESSES, IF YOU'RE
TRYING TO PUT PROTOCOLS IN PLACE
FOR YOUR ON-THE-JOB WORKERS.
SO, WE'VE GOT A CHALLENGE RIGHT
NOW WHERE WE NEED TO HAVE
HARMONIZATION OF MITIGATION TO
HELP BUSINESSES REMAIN OPEN.
WE CAN'T HAVE A MISH-MASH OF
RULES AND APPROACHES BECAUSE
IT'S SIMPLY NOT HELPFUL, AS
DR. JUNI AND THE SCIENTIFIC
ADVISORY TABLE ARE TRYING TO
ADVISE THE PROVINCE AND AS SARA
AND OUR HEALTH CARE
PROFESSIONALS ARE TRYING TO
TREAT THE ILLNESS.

Steve says, WELL, LET ME ASK
SARA ABOUT A DEVELOPMENT THAT
HAPPENED IN HER SECTOR
YESTERDAY, WHICH WAS THE
ANNOUNCEMENT BY ONTARIO'S HEALTH
MINISTER, I THINK THE NUMBER WAS
ABOUT 15,000 NURSES THAT ARE
TRAINED ELSEWHERE IN OTHER
JURISDICTIONS BUT WHO VERY MUCH
WANT TO BE PART OF THIS HEALTH
CARE SOLUTION HERE IN ONTARIO
RIGHT NOW AND THEY HAVE BEEN
WAITING FOR THEIR ACCREDITATION,
THEIR LICENSING, IN ORDER TO BE
ABLE TO PARTICIPATE AS NURSES IN
OUR SYSTEM, AND UNTIL NOW HAVE
NOT BEEN ABLE TO.
OKAY.
IF THAT DOOR OPENS AND WE CAN
ACTUALLY DEPLOY THOSE NURSES,
HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE DO YOU
THINK IT WILL MAKE?

Sara says, I'M GLAD YOU
BROUGHT THAT UP BECAUSE THAT'S
SOMETHING THAT I'VE BEEN PUSHING
FOR FOR A LONG TIME.
A LOT OF INTERNATIONALLY TRAINED
NURSES SPEND YEARS AND THOUSANDS
OF DOLLARS TRYING TO GET
LICENSED IN ONTARIO FOR JOBS
THEY MAY HAVE DONE FOR 15 OR 20
YEARS IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY AND
MANY OF THEM GIVE UP AND END UP WORKING AS
PSWS OR WORKING IN MINIMUM WAGE
JOBS.
SO THIS WOULD BE HUGELY
IMPORTANT.
IT WOULD BE A STEP IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION.
WHEN WE'RE LOOKING IN TERMS OF
NUMBERS, 15,000 INTERNATIONALLY
EDUCATED NURSES, THERE ARE
ABOUT, YOU KNOW, 400,000 NURSES
ACROSS CANADA.
SO, IT IS GOING TO HELP.
I DO FEEL LIKE, AGAIN, THIS IS A
SHORT-TERM SOLUTION TO A LARGER
PROBLEM.
BUT I HOPE THAT WE CAN USE
INTERNATIONALLY TRAINED HEALTH
CARE PROFESSIONALS MORE
EFFECTIVELY IN THE FUTURE.
SO, IF WE CAN TRAIN THESE NURSES
UP TO START WORKING IN HOSPITALS
QUICKLY, THAT WILL BE A GREAT
STEP.
HOWEVER, I DID LOOK AT THE
REPORT AND IT DOES SAY THAT
THESE NURSES STILL NEED TO WORK
UNDER SUPERVISION OF A
PRECEPTOR, AND WITH THE CURRENT
SHORTAGE WE HAVE NOW, IS THAT
POSSIBLE?
ARE THERE GOING TO BE ENOUGH
NURSES ON THE UNIT THAT CAN
ACTUALLY GET THESE
INTERNATIONALLY TRAINED NURSES
UP TO SPEED AND THAT IS TO BE
DETERMINED, I THINK.

Steve says, DR. JUNI, MAYBE YOU
CAN GIVE US SOME INSIGHT INTO
THIS, BECAUSE GIVEN YOUR
RESPONSIBILITIES YOU HAVE SEEN
HOW EITHER QUICKLY OR SLOWLY
GOVERNMENT REACTS TO PROBLEMS.
THIS SEEMS TO BE A SOLUTION THAT
SO MANY VOICES HAVE BEEN CALLING
FOR FOR A LONG TIME, AND HERE WE
ARE 22 MONTHS INTO THIS PANDEMIC
AND IT IS ONLY NOW HAPPENING.
HOW COME?

Dr. Juni says, TO BE
HONEST WITH YOU FOR ME IT WAS
ALWAYS -- YOU KNOW, AS YOU KNOW,
I'M SWISS, NO?
AND FOR ME, WHEN WE ARRIVED
HERE, IT WAS ALWAYS VERY
DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND HOW
PROTECTIONISTIC THE CANADIAN
SYSTEM IS IN GENERAL WITH
MEDICALLY QUALIFIED PERSONNEL,
AS AN EXAMPLE.
AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE
POLITICS BEHIND THERE, BUT I
WOULD BELIEVE, YOU KNOW, THAT WE
HAVE A LOT OF MEDICALLY
QUALIFIED STAFF OUT THERE WHO
WOULD ACTUALLY BE MUCH BETTER
POSITIONED, YOU KNOW, AS PART OF
RESOLVING THE ISSUES THAT WE'RE
HAVING WITH STAFFING RIGHT NOW,
AND THIS OF COURSE INCLUDES
NURSES AND I THINK THIS NEEDS A
CERTAIN EXTENT OF PRAGMATISM.
I WOULD HOPE THINGS ARE CHANGING
AND CANADA IS LEARNING FROM THE
SITUATION RIGHT NOW.
THERE'S ALWAYS THIS ISSUE COMING
UP OF, OF YOU KNOW, VARIATION IN
QUALITY.
BUT THIS CAN BE ADDRESSED
RELATIVELY -- IN A RELATIVELY
UNCOMPLICATED MANNER.
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, AND THAT'S
VERY LIMITED, THIS HASN'T BEEN
ALWAYS THE CASE.
I'VE BEEN HERE FOR SIX YEARS AND
I'VE SEEN A LOT OF LOOPHOLES
OPENING AND A LOT OF ROADBLOCKS,
ET CETERA, WHICH PERHAPS COULD
BE RESOLVED MUCH MORE EASILY.

Steve says, OKAY.
LET ME RAISE THE ISSUE OF OUR
SCHOOLS BECAUSE A LOT OF PARENTS
OBVIOUSLY WERE QUITE PLEASED TO
HEAR AT THE BEGINNING OF THE
YEAR THAT THE SCHOOLS WERE
SUPPOSED TO OPEN ON THE FIRST
WEDNESDAY IN THE FIRST WEEK OF
JANUARY, AND THEN OF COURSE WE
GOT THIS ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY
WOULDN'T BE OPENING FOR A COUPLE
OF WEEKS AND, WELL, I KNOW A LOT
OF PARENTS WERE VERY FRUSTRATED
AND DISTURBED TO HEAR ABOUT
THAT.
SO THE SCHOOLS ARE SUPPOSED TO
REOPEN ON MONDAY, BUT THEY'VE
BEEN CLOSED SINCE THE BEGINNING
OF THE YEAR AND, PETER SHURMAN,
I WANT YOU TO SORT OF HELP US
GET OUR HEAD AROUND THE QUESTION
OF WHY IT MADE SENSE TO CLOSE
SCHOOLS BUT KEEP MALLS OPEN
WHERE ALL THE KIDS WHO ARE
LOCKED OUT OF SCHOOL ARE
PROBABLY GOING TO BE
CONGREGATING.

Peter says, THE SHORT
ANSWER IS IT ISN'T, AT LEAST TO
ME.
IT'S BEEN -- WHAT? -- EIGHT
YEARS SINCE I LEFT QUEEN'S PARK
AND THE PROBLEMS THAT YOU JUST
DISCUSSED, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH
DR. JUNI, REMAIN THE SAME.
PERSONNEL COULD BE TAKEN FROM
OTHER DISCIPLINES OR MORE
CORRECTLY OTHER SPACES, PEOPLE
WHO ARE HERE AND THE OLD
CARICATURE OF THE DOCTOR DRIVING
A CAB AND TALKING TO YOU BECAUSE
WE DON'T CREATE THE RESIDENCY
SPACES.
THIS IS ALL ABOUT MONEY.
IT'S NOT ABOUT SCHOOLS AND IT'S
NOT ABOUT BUSINESSES.
WE COULD ADDRESS IT ALL WITH
MONEY.
WE HAVEN'T OPENED THE CANADA
HEALTH ACT IN 50 YEARS FOR A
MAJOR OVERHAUL IN TERMS OF HOW
WE TRANSFER FUNDS SO THAT
PROVINCES CAN DO THE THINGS THAT
THEY HAVE TO DO.
IF YOU HAVE THE APPROPRIATE
NUMBER OF MEDICAL PEOPLE, SO AS
SARA MENTIONED, YOU COULD BRING
15,000 NURSES IN.
IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE BILL 124,
PARTICULARLY BEING BROUGHT IN AT
THIS TIME WHERE I UNDERSTAND
THAT THE INFLATION RATE IN THE
LAST MONTH IS RUNNING AT ABOUT
7%, IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS, IF YOU HAD THE
LATITUDE FOR THE PROVINCE TO
MODIFY THE MEDICAL DELIVERY
SYSTEM SO THAT WE HAD DOCTORS
WHO ARE FOREIGN-TRAINED COMING
INTO THE SYSTEM QUICKER, IF WE
HAD MORE BEDS, WHICH I KNOW
THEY'RE TRYING TO CREATE AT THE
ONTARIO LEVEL BUT WE'RE NOT
DOING IT ON A NATIONAL LEVEL
WITH NATIONAL DOLLARS, A LOT OF
THINGS WOULD CHANGE.
SO, TO BRING IT BACK TO YOUR
QUESTION ABOUT SCHOOLS,
SCHOOLS -- TO ME IT'S ABOUT THE
MENTAL HEALTH OF PARENTS BUT
IT'S EVEN MORE ABOUT THE MENTAL
HEALTH OF KIDS.
YOU DO A LITTLE BACK OF THE
NAPKIN MATH AND YOU SAY A KID
WHO WAS BORN THREE YEARS AGO WAS
ONE WHEN COVID STARTED.
SO THE LAST TWO YEARS OF HIS OR
HER LIFE HAVE BEEN SPENT IN A
SITUATION THAT IS COMPLETELY
ABNORMAL.
SO YOU HAVE A 3-YEAR-OLD RUNNING
AROUND OR A 4-YEAR-OLD HAS NO
IDEA WHAT THE WORLD IS REALLY
LIKE, BEING WITH OTHER KIDS,
BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T SPENT
ENOUGH TIME WITH THEM.
AND I THINK WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING
AT WHAT OUTWEIGHS -- WHAT ONE
THING OUTWEIGHS ANOTHER THING,
THE MENTAL HEALTH OF KIDS, AND
THAT IS STIMULATED BY HAVING
THEM IN A NORMAL OR AS NORMAL AS
POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENT IN SCHOOLS
IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, I
THINK IT'S PARAMOUNT.
THAT, COUPLED WITH BUSINESS, IS
THE WHOLE, I GUESS, MOVING PART
ASSEMBLY OF THIS MACHINE, AND
WE'RE NOT DOING WHAT WE SHOULD
BE DOING AT THIS TIME.

Steve says, SARA, IN YOUR VIEW,
SHOULD THE SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN
CLOSED AS LONG AS THEY HAVE
BEEN?

Text reads, Sara Fung. The Gritty Nurse Podcast.

Sara says, ABSOLUTELY NOT.
IT'S BEEN HUGELY STRESSFUL
PERSONALLY FOR ME.
I HAVE A 4-YEAR-OLD AND A
6-YEAR-OLD.
TO HAVE SCHOOLS OPEN AND SHUT SO
MANY TIMES, I'VE HAD TO SCRAMBLE
TO FIGURE OUT CHILD CARE, I'VE
HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK
WITH TWO KIDS IN ONLINE SCHOOL.
IT'S BEEN HUGELY IMPACTFUL TO
THEIR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
BECAUSE THEY'RE SITTING IN FRONT
OF SCREENS ALL DAY.
SO WHERE ARE THEY GETTING THEIR
PHYSICAL EXERCISE?
I THINK THAT WE SHOULD BE USING
THIS OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE SCHOOLS
SAFER.
SO, TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE ARE
HEPA FILTERS IN EVERY CLASSROOM,
TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE ARE
ENOUGH N-95 MASKS FOR TEACHERS
AND FOR STUDENTS, TO MAKE RAPID
TESTING EQUITABLE AND ACCESSIBLE
IS HUGE.
BECAUSE AT THIS POINT IN TIME A
LOT OF PARENTS AND STUDENTS HAVE
DONE EVERYTHING RIGHT.
IF THEY HAD MORE ACCESS TO RAPID
TESTS, THEY COULD USE THEIR
PERSONAL JUDGMENT TO MAKE A RISK
ASSESSMENT AS TO WHETHER THEY
WANT TO PUT THEIR KIDS BACK IN
SCHOOL OR NOT.
AND I THINK THAT MY KIDS, THEY
DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A REGULAR
SCHOOL YEAR IS, AND I THINK
THAT'S REALLY SAD.
I'VE EVEN HAD TO MAKE THE
DECISION TO NOT PUT MY DAUGHTER
WHO IS IN JK INTO ONLINE SCHOOL
BECAUSE I PHYSICALLY CAN'T
HANDLE THEM.
I DON'T THINK THAT IS A CHOICE I
SHOULD HAVE HAD TO MAKE.

Steve says, I DON'T WANT TO
INVADE YOUR PRIVACY HERE, BUT
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT
WHETHER OR NOT YOUR KIDS WILL BE
ABLE TO CATCH UP ON WHATEVER
EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES THEY'VE
MISSED, BOTH IN TERMS OF
SOCIALIZATION OR THE CURRICULUM?

Sara says, I AM CONCERNED.
THIS IS VERY CONCERNING.
LIKE, MY KIDS HAVE HAD
ASSESSMENTS IN THE FALL AND
THEY'RE BOTH BEHIND.
I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WOULD HAVE
HAPPENED IF SCHOOLS HADN'T BEEN
SHUT DOWN.
SO, THIS IS -- HONESTLY, IT'S
SHAMEFUL AND IT'S EMBARRASSING
TO ME AS A PARENT THAT MY KIDS
ARE BEHIND NOW AND I DON'T KNOW
IF THERE'S ANYTHING ELSE THAT
COULD HAVE BEEN DONE.

Steve says, JAN, I WONDER IF YOU
COULD SPEAK TO THIS ISSUE LESS
IN TERMS OF THE EFFECTS ON KIDS,
WHICH WE KNOW IS SIGNIFICANT,
BUT OBVIOUSLY IF PARENTS WHO ARE
RUNNING BUSINESSES CAN'T TAKE
THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL, WHAT
HAPPENS TO THAT PART OF OUR
ECONOMY?

Jan says, LOOK, CLEARLY
IT'S PUT A LOT OF STRESS ON OUR
WORKFORCES, WITHOUT A DOUBT.
AND I THINK IT COMES BACK TO,
STEVE, WHAT I WAS SAYING OFF THE
TOP.
THE ROOT CAUSE CHALLENGE HERE IS
WE KEEP CONTINUING TO APPROACH
THE PANDEMIC AS A SHORT-TERM
ISSUE.
TWO YEARS IN, THERE ARE
MITIGATIONS THAT WE COULD BE
PUTTING IN PLACE, JUST AS WE'RE
CALLING FOR FOR BUSINESSES, THE
SAME COULD APPLY FOR SCHOOLS.
SARA POINTED TO RAPID TESTING,
LOOKING AT THE VENTILATION
SYSTEMS WITHIN THE SCHOOLS.
ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO PUT
PROTECTIVE LAYERS IN PLACE SO WE
CAN KEEP THE SCHOOLS OPEN IS
CRITICAL, FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH
AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND
EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR
KIDS BUT ALSO FOR THE --
REDUCING THE STRESS ON OUR
WORKFORCES.

Steve says, DR. JUNI, BEFORE I
GET YOU TO COMMENT, I GUESS ONE
OF THE THINGS I WANT TO PUT ON
THE RECORD HERE IS THAT EVEN IN
CHICAGO, WHERE THE MAYOR OF
CHICAGO GOT ELECTED IN LARGE
MEASURE BECAUSE OF THE
SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT SHE GOT FROM
TEACHER UNIONS, SHE HAD THIS TO
SAY THE OTHER DAY BECAUSE SHE
AND THE TEACHER UNIONS THAT ARE
ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THIS
ISSUE.
THIS IS LAURIE LIGHTFOOT, THE
MAYOR OF CHICAGO:

A graphic appears titled, One American Approach.

Steve continues, “I WILL NOT ALLOW (THE CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION)
TO TAKE OUR CHILDREN HOSTAGE,” SHE SAID AT A NEWS CONFERENCE
WEDNESDAY. “I WILL NOT ALLOW THEM TO COMPROMISE
THE FUTURE OF THIS GENERATION
OF CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS. THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.”
SHE ALSO DISMISSED THE DEMAND FOR MORE TESTING.
“WE ARE NOT GOING TO ROB PARENTS OF THEIR RIGHT
AND THEIR OBLIGATION TO TELL US
IF THEY WANT TESTING OR NOT ON THEIR CHILDREN,” SHE SAID.
IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. IT’S MORALLY WRONG.”

Steve says, I THINK, DR. JUNI, ALMOST EVERY
OTHER JURISDICTION OF
SIGNIFICANCE, IF YOU WANT TO
COMPARE IT TO A BIG CITY LIKE
TORONTO OR OTTAWA, IN AMERICAN
STATES, THEY HAVE ALL TRIED TO
KEEP THEIR SCHOOLS OPEN.
I SEE BOSTON YESTERDAY CLOSED
THEIR SCHOOLS, BUT THAT'S
BECAUSE OF COLD, NOT BECAUSE OF
COVID.
OUR GOVERNMENTS HAVE MADE THE
DECISIONS TO KEEP OUR SCHOOLS
CLOSED LONGER THAN ANY OTHER
JURISDICTION IN NORTH AMERICA.
WAS THAT A WISE DECISION IN YOUR
VIEW?

Dr, Juni says, NO, AS YOU
PROBABLY KNOW, THE SCIENCE TABLE
WAS QUITE VOCAL ABOUT THE ISSUE
OF SCHOOLS, THAT WE SHOULDN'T
USE SCHOOLS AS A LEVER TO
CONTROL THE PANDEMIC, AND WE
INDEED ARE AN OUTLIER IN NORTH
AMERICA AND I’M GLAD TO SEE THAT THIS
WON'T HAPPEN ANYMORE.
SO, IF THE LAST TWO WEEKS -- THIS
WAS A REALLY DIFFICULT DECISION
FOR PEOPLE.
IF THE LAST TWO WEEKS OR THE
CURRENT TWO WEEKS ACTUALLY ARE
USED TO MAKE SCHOOLS SAFER, AS
POINTED OUT BY SARA, THAT'S WHAT
IS OKAY.
AND THEN WE JUST MOVE ON AND
JUST OPEN THEM AGAIN.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS TO REALIZE
THIS TIME WE REALLY HAVE THE
HIGHER RISK THINGS ALL CLOSED,
LIKE RESTAURANTS, FOR EXAMPLE,
WHEREAS THE LOWER RISKS THINGS
SUCH AS RETAIL ARE STILL OPEN
AND I THINK IT WAS JUSTIFIABLE
PROVIDED THAT IT WAS JUST A
SHORT TIME FRAME AND IT WAS USED
TO BRING HEPA FILTERS INTO
CLASSROOMS, MASKS TO TEACHERS
AND STUDENTS, ET CETERA.
BUT NOW IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO
OPEN BECAUSE OF THE DAMAGE THAT
IT'S DONE.
ONE COMMENT REGARDING RAPID
TESTS.
UNFORTUNATELY, RAPID TESTS DON'T
WORK AS WELL ANYMORE AS BEFORE
AND WE NEED NEW APPROACHES.
PERHAPS ALSO FOR RAPID TESTS,
WE'RE CURRENTLY LOOKING INTO
THAT, FAR TOO LOW SENSITIVITY
NOW TO DETECT INFECTIOUS CASES
WITH OMICRON.
THEREFORE, WHAT WORKED BEFORE
WITH DELTA AND WITH OTHER
VARIANTS DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE,
UNFORTUNATELY.

Steve says, ALL RIGHT.
LET ME DO THIS FOLLOW-UP WITH
YOU AND, AGAIN, I PREFACE THE
QUESTION BY SAYING WE UNDERSTAND
THAT YOU'RE AN ADVISOR, NOT THE
DECIDER.
YOU ADVISE AND THE PREMIER AND
THE GOVERNMENT DECIDE.
OKAY.
IF I'M HEARING YOU CORRECTLY,
THERE IS CONCERN THAT IF WE JUST
LET HER RIP, OUR HOSPITALS AND
OUR INTENSIVE CARE UNITS WILL BE
OVERRUN WITH PATIENTS AND WE
DON'T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO DEAL
WITH THAT RIGHT NOW.
SO MY QUESTION IS: WE'VE HAD 22
MONTHS AT THIS.
WE'VE HAD 22 MONTHS IN WHICH TO
IMPROVE CAPACITY THAT WE HAVE
KNOWN HAS BEEN A PROBLEM FOR A
LONG TIME.
WHY HAVEN'T WE DONE ANYTHING
ABOUT THAT?

Text reads, Hospitals and ICUs.

Dr. Juni says, THAT'S VERY
SIMPLE.
WHEN YOU ASK THIS QUESTION, YOU
JUST POINT TOWARDS THE FACT THAT
YOU HAVEN'T UNDERSTOOD
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH.
SO EVEN IF MY HOME COUNTRY,
SWITZERLAND, COMPLETELY
PRIVILEGED, MUCH MORE HEALTH
CARE AROUND, MANY MORE BEDS AND
ICUS, ET CETERA.
THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM WILL BE
OVERWHELMED ONCE YOU'RE IN
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH.
OUR CASE COUNTS OF OMICRON
DOUBLED, YOU KNOW.
NOW WE CAN'T MEASURE IT EVEN
ANYMORE.
DOUBLED EVERY FIVE TO SEVEN
DAYS, MEANING YOU JUST NEED TO
WAIT ANOTHER SEVEN DAYS AND THEN
CASE COUNTS ARE HIGH ENOUGH THAT
YOUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM GETS
OVERWHELMED AGAIN.
IF YOU'RE IN A WAVE LIKE THAT,
YOU NEED TO BLUNT IT AND THEN
RIDE IT OUT, THAT YOU ARE AT THE
LEVEL THAT THE HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM STILL CAN DEAL WITH IT.
OF COURSE WE NEED TO DEAL WITH
THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM LONGER
TERM, YOU KNOW.
IN CITIES, STATISTICS CANADA IS
ALWAYS AT THE TAIL END OF
DISTRIBUTION OF WESTERN
COUNTRIES.
SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT
THAT.
IT WON'T BE FIXABLE IN A MOMENT.
EVEN IF WE HAD TWICE AS MANY
BEDS, WE COULDN'T LET IT RIP.
THAT'S THE CONCLUSION.

Steve says, ALL RIGHT.
PETER SHURMAN, YOUR VIEW ON
WHETHER OR NOT -- I UNDERSTAND
WHAT DR. JUNI HAD TO SAY THERE.
BUT ON THE ISSUE OF CAPACITY,
HAVE WE MADE, IN YOUR JUDGMENT,
THE DECISIONS THAT NEEDED TO BE
MADE THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THOSE
NUMBERS WE COULD HAVE IMPROVED
CAPACITY AT THE VERY LEAST?

Peter says, WELL, I
THINK, NUMBER ONE, WE SHOULD
HAVE BEEN WORKING STEADILY TO
IMPROVE CAPACITY, CONSIDERING
PEOPLE, INCLUDING DR. JUNI,
TELLING INTERVIEWERS LIKE MYSELF
THAT THIS WASN'T GOING TO GO
AWAY ANY TIME SOON AND THAT ONE
DAY -- HOPEFULLY IT'S A SOON
DAY -- IT WOULD BECOME ENDEMIC.
WELL, IF WE'D HAD THE TWO YEARS
AND WE'VE HAD THOSE KINDS OF
WARNINGS, WHY HAVEN'T WE -- I
WON'T USE THE TERM
"EXPONENTIALLY," I'LL LEAVE THAT
FOR THE MEDICAL PROFESSION TO
TALK ABOUT IN TERMS OF CASES --
BUT WHY HAVEN'T WE IN SOME
MULTIPLE IMPROVED THE CAPACITY
OF OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEM?
WHEN IT WAS SUMMERTIME, A COUPLE
OF TENTS, I GUESS, FIELD
HOSPITALS, YOU COULD CALL THEM,
WERE ERECTED AT GTA HOSPITALS IN
PARKING LOTS WHERE WE COULD
EXPAND CAPACITY.
I THINK THEY WERE TAKEN AWAY.
NOW WE'VE GOT A SITUATION WHERE
THE CONCERN EXPRESSED BY
DR. JUNI ON BEHALF OF THE
SCIENCE TABLE, AS YOU KNOW IF
THIS GOES EXPONENTIAL, WE'RE IN
REAL TROUBLE.
I UNDERSTAND THAT.
THAT'S ON ONE HAND.
ON THE OTHER HAND, MY PERSONAL
EXPERIENCE SITTING DOWN HERE IN
FLORIDA, AND I RECOGNIZE THAT
THIS IS A HIGH-TEMPERATURE,
SUMMER-LIKE CLIMATE ALL THE TIME
VERSUS A WINTER-LIKE CLIMATE, I
DON'T KNOW IF THAT MAKES ANY
DIFFERENCE.
I'LL TELL YOU THIS.
THEY HAVE NOT HAD ANY CONTROL
WHATSOEVER.
THIS IS THE WIDE-OPEN OMICRON
AND IT WAS WIDE-OPEN DELTA, WIDE
OPEN ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
THEY'VE NEVER LOCKED ANYBODY
DOWN.
THEY HAVE A GOVERNOR THAT
DOESN'T BELIEVE IN THAT.
SO, HIS TAKE ON THE WHOLE THING
IS PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
YOU WATCH YOURSELF.
SO FRANKLY, THAT'S WHAT I DO.
IT'S WHAT MY WIFE DOES.
WE HAVEN'T BEEN TOUCHED BY
COVID.
ON THE OTHER HAND, WE HAVE
PERSONAL FAMILY MEMBERS, ONE OF
THEM RIGHT NOW, TWO OF THEM LAST
WEEK, ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE THAT
WE KNOW, AT LEAST A DOZEN, WHO
HAVE EITHER GONE THROUGH THIS OR
ARE GOING THROUGH IT NOW.
NOBODY HAS GONE TO THE HOSPITAL.
AND THE HOSPITAL PEAK IN JULY IS
150% OF WHAT IT IS NOW HERE IN
FLORIDA.
I ASK MYSELF: IF THOSE NUMBERS
ARE CAPABLE OF BEING TRANSPOSED
TO ONTARIO, HAVE WE TAKEN THE
RIGHT TACK?
AND I'M QUESTIONING IT TO A
GREAT EXTENT.

Steve says, DR. JUNI HAS GOT
THIS LOOK ON HIS FACE WHICH
SUGGESTS, YES, THE WEATHER MAKES
A BIG DIFFERENCE.
GO AHEAD, DR. JUNI.
COME ON IN.

Dr. Juni says, FIRST OF
ALL, THE WEATHER MAKES A BIG
DIFFERENCE, INDEED.
I DON'T HAVE TO TALK TO PETER
ABOUT THAT.
WE AGREE ON THAT.
IF YOU'RE INDOORS, YOU'RE IN
TROUBLE.
IF YOU LOOK AT FLORIDA AND THE
NUMBERS, THE EXCESS MORTALITY,
ET CETERA, FLORIDA IS A
DISASTER.
IT'S CLEAR THAT A LOT OF THAT
WAS PREVENTABLE BEFORE.
WE WENT DOWN A DIFFERENT ROAD
AND WE NOW JUST NEED TO GO TO
THE END OF THIS ROAD, IT MEANS
WE JUST NEED TO GET EVERYBODY
WHO HAS BEEN NOT INFECTED YET
AND NOT VACCINATED AND GET THEM
INTO THE STATE OF IMMUNITY, AND
THIS MEANS RIGHT NOW WE JUST
NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL THAN
FLORIDA ALSO WITH OUR HEALTH
CARE RESOURCES FOR A FEW MORE
WEEKS.
IT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
TRAJECTORY, AND THIS MEANS OUR
DEATHS WERE LOWER, THE BURDEN OF
DISEASE WAS LOWER, ET CETERA,
AND WE DID A LOT BETTER THAN
FLORIDA, EVEN THOUGH FLORIDA WAS
PRIVILEGED WHEN IT COMES TO THE
WEATHER.
THEY DIDN'T MAKE MUCH OF IT.

Steve says, ALL RIGHT.
WE HAVE JUST A FEW MINUTES LEFT
HERE AND AGAIN CONSISTENT WITH
THE THEME THAT WE'RE EXPLORING
HERE, SHOULD WE HAVE DONE THINGS
DIFFERENTLY, SARA, LET ME ASK
YOU ABOUT THIS.
YOU KNOW IN THE LONG-TERM SECTOR
IN PARTICULAR BUT ALSO SOME
HOSPITALS AROUND ONTARIO, THEY
HAVE BEEN SAYING TO THEIR
EMPLOYEES, "IF YOU DON'T GET
VACCINATED, SORRY, YOU'RE GONE.
YOU CAN'T COME TO WORK."
THERE'S AN INDEPENDENT MEMBER OF
THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE, ROMAN
BABER, WHO HAS SAID THINGS ARE
SO DIFFICULT RIGHT NOW WITH
ABSENTEEISM, WITH SICK LEAVE AND
SO ON, WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE
TO BITE THE BULLET AND INVITE
THOSE TERMINATED HOSPITAL
WORKERS OR LONG-TERM CARE
WORKERS BACK INTO THE SYSTEM
BECAUSE WE NEED THEM, EVEN IF
THEY'RE NOT VACCINATED.
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

Sara says, I AM COMPLETELY
FOR MANDATORY VACCINATIONS.
I THINK PEOPLE TAKE THIS OUT OF
CONTEXT SOMETIMES BECAUSE THE
TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS, THE
NUMBER OR PERCENTAGE OF HEALTH
CARE WORKERS WHO HAVE CHOSEN NOT
TO BE VACCINATED IS PROBABLY 1
TO 2%.
SO WE'RE NOT LOOKING AT A HUGE
NUMBER HERE.
AND TO GIVE THEM SO MUCH
ATTENTION THAT I DON'T THINK IS
REALLY FRANKLY SOMETHING THAT --
I FEEL LIKE IF THEY CHOOSE NOT
TO BE VACCINATED DESPITE ALL OF
THE EVIDENCE THAT'S PROVING
OTHERWISE, THAT'S A PERSONAL
CHOICE THEY CAN MAKE, THEY'RE
CERTAINLY WELCOME TO WORK AWAY
FROM THE BEDSIDE OR IN ANOTHER
INDUSTRY.
SO I THINK IT WOULD BE
IRRESPONSIBLE TO CALL THESE
WORKERS BACK KNOWING THAT THEY
COULD BE TRANSMITTING, YOU
KNOW, COVID AT ANY GIVEN
MOMENT AND EVEN PUTTING
THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES AT
RISK.
IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT I FEEL
IS A RESPONSIBLE DECISION.
SO I COMPLETELY SUPPORT THE
MANDATORY VACCINATION.
AND I DON'T ALSO FEEL IT SHOULD
BE UP TO INDIVIDUAL
ORGANIZATIONS TO POLICE THIS.
IT SHOULD BE A MANDATORY
STATEMENT COMING FROM THE
GOVERNMENT TO SAY THAT IN
CERTAIN INDUSTRIES THAT ARE VERY
HIGH RISK, SUCH AS HEALTH CARE
AND ESPECIALLY LONG-TERM CARE,
WE NEED OUR WORKERS TO BE
VACCINATED.

Text reads, Produced by: Steve Paikin @spaikin
Produced by Carla Lucchetta @carrletta

Steve says, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR
ALL OF YOU ON THAT BUT ALAS WE
HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME.
BUT I'M GRATEFUL TO ALL OF YOU
FOR JOINING US HERE ON TVO
TONIGHT: PETER SHURMAN, SARA
FUNG, DR. PETER JUNI, AND JAN
DE SILVA.
IT'S GOOD OF YOU TO SPEND SO
MUCH TIME WITH US HERE AND HELP
US OUT WITH THIS PROGRAM
TONIGHT.
BE WELL, EVERYBODY, AND LET'S
HOPE WE'RE ALMOST CLOSE TO THE
END OF THIS LATEST WAVE.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Dr. Juni says, THANKS A
LOT.

Sara says, THANK YOU.

Watch: Should Ontario Let Omicron Rip?