March 17, 2020 was around the time when all the provinces started shutting down in response to COVID-19’s first wave. A year and change later, we’re back here again. 

British Columbia announced several meagre restrictions in a trenchcoat pretending to be a “circuit breaker.” Ontario turned their restriction announcement into Canada’s worst TV show that they seemed to be still making up three hours beforehand. And Quebec announced Wednesday that two COVID-19 hotspot regions had to lockdown, seemingly with little warning.

Saskatchewan used “faith in the people of this province” to excuse enacting stricter regulations. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney once again highlighted the importance of personal responsibility rather than actually enacting stricter regulations on the province. (Sound familiar?) Same message, different week. 

B.C. and Ontario enacted new provincial restrictions this week. Both provinces have opted for a partial closure that leaves non-essential retail, schools and businesses open. 

B.C. Premier John Horgan began the Monday announcement by telling young people, “Don’t blow this for the rest of us.” Unfortunately, young people make up the bulk of retail and food service workers. 

As Thomas O’Donnell explains at The Tyee, keeping dangerous workplaces open — forcing workers to keep taking public transit to work, engaging face-to-face with anti-maskers, potentially spreading infections to roommates and losing out on income or employment if they have to self-isolate — is disproportionately going to impact young people. But anything to keep the government from having to deal with the systemic inequality that’s driving workplace transmission, right?

Meanwhile, more than 150 intensive care doctors in Ontario have written an open letter to the government, published in Ricochet, begging for more restrictions. Hospitals are seeing younger and sicker patients. Healthcare workers are struggling. Letting so many people get so sick isn’t just bad governance, they argue, it’s downright unethical. Medicine’s first principle is still, 2,500 years after Hippocrates, “do no harm.” Maybe that should be Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s guiding principle, too.

At least the territories and the Atlantic bubble — the areas that went hard, fast and long on their anti-COVID measures — are doing pretty alright

This Week from Passage

Brian Lilley Isn’t The Only Queen’s Park Journalist That Failed Us

Brian Lilley, a political columnist at the Toronto Sun, has been living with Ford’s director of media relations since 2019. The Sun did not tell their readers of this conflict of interest, nor did other journalists on the same beat report it. What other stories might we be missing out on due to corporate media’s innate desire to protect their own?

Alberta Needs Leadership, But Jason Kenney Is Busy Fighting Bigfoot

What does Kenney need to do right now to run Alberta? If your answer is “complain about a Belgian animated movie for children that stars Bigfoot,” you should probably consider a job in his press office.

The Supreme Court’s Carbon Tax Ruling Is Hardly a Climate Victory

Liberals immediately heralded the Supreme Court’s ruling that Ottawa can impose a federal carbon tax. But, like so many of Canada’s climate policies, it comes nowhere near the kind of radical change we actually need to enact. “The carbon tax has constrained our collective imagination of what real climate action could look and feel like,” writes climate justice organizer Emma Jackson.

For-Profit Long Term Care Must Be Abolished

Elder care is health care. Letting private corporates run long term care homes the same way they run prisons — cutting costs and raising mortality rates in search of profit — is profoundly wrong. 

Doug Ford Has Turned the Pandemic into a Game Show We All Lose

Did you stay tuned forFord’s announcement about provincial COVID-19 restrictions? How about his “famous” cherry cheesecake recipe? Or his jack-o-lantern carving? Ford has no concept of gravity — he uses the same language to talk about a deadly virus as he does to hype up his folksy, fatuitous publicity stunts. 

British Columbia’s Pseudo Lockdown Is Destined To Fail

B.C. is fighting surging COVID-19 and deadly variant cases with a “circuit breaker” that seems more designed to break our sanity. Indoor dining and worship are closed; retail, personal services and schools remain open; the public remain in doubt as to whether anyone understands exponential growth. 

Elsewhere in Canada

Yukon Trans Health-Care Coverage Now The Most Comprehensive In Canada.” Fae Johnstone, Xtra.

March 31 was Trans Day of Visibility, which dovetailed nicely with Yukon’s new trans health coverage coming into place on April 1. The territory will now cover the cost (and travel expenses) for a whole host of trans affirming medical procedures, including voice coaching, hair removal and body contouring procedures. Here’s hoping other provinces and territories follow suit in making gender affirmative healthcare more affordable. 

Homeless People Also Have A Right To The City.” Kharoll-Ann Souffrant, Ricochet.

Canada isn’t doing enough to combat homelessness. Souffrant’s analysis looks at how Montreal has been further stigmatizing and marginalizing houseless people during the pandemic, but her broader points speak to how the country at large is failing its most vulnerable. 

Parkdale Residents Rally Against Goliath Corporate Landlords.” Shannon Carranco, The Hoser.

The Hoser is a new local, independent outlet covering stories in the GTA — and we’re suckers for fellow independent media. Their first article is about predatory landlords in one of Toronto’s most affordable areas, and how locals are fighting back. 

Around the World

In Brazil, We Thought We Had Been Through The Worst. Somehow The Worst Is Yet To Come.” Isabela Dias, Mother Jones.

“Look at what we did eradicating polio and rubella and protecting millions against the swine flu in a few months, or what we do every year with a nationwide influenza vaccination program. Brazil should have been looked up to as a model, not looked down upon as a global threat,” writes Isabela Dias. Instead, President Jair Bolsonaro’s strongman posturing has led Brazil to fully embrace necropolitics, with thousands dying every day from an entirely preventable cause.

The Indonesian Left Is Stuck In An Anti-Communist Hangover.” Eduard Lazarus, Jacobin.

Since Indonesia banned the Communist Party in 1966, the left hasn’t had any official power in electoral politics. Recent protests show there’s plenty of anti-capitalist sentiment, but they’re struggling to coalesce into a united progressive movement.

Ideas & Culture

Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine Based On BMI Is Exciting And Complicated At The Same Time.” Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue. 

Some places — including New York state and the United Kingdom — consider fatness a health condition, and thus are offering people with high BMIs earlier COVID-19 vaccines. Russo talks to a number of dieticians and fat folks to unpick the good, the bad, and the racist of size-based vaccine priority.

The Boat Stuck In The Suez Canal Shut Down Global Commerce. So Could Organized Workers.” Benjamin L. McKean, Jacobin. 

The Ever Given getting wedged in the Suez Canal was a personal highlight of March. It also disrupted 12 per cent of global trade, proving how fragile these huge supply chains really are — and how much commerce relies on workers.

And one last thing… 

APTN has started a new podcast, APTN News Brief hosted by Rick Harp, to deliver daily Indigenous news. Add it to your daily listen list to stay up to date on important, undercovered stories.

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