It’s been a lovely week for rising COVID-19 rates and stalling vaccine progress. Canada’s currently ranked 38th in the New York Times’ world vaccine tracker. Yes, we’ve distributed 19 doses for every 100 people living in Canada on a mostly age-priority basis. But who have those vaccines been going to?
Analysis published by research group ICES found that Toronto’s hardest-hit neighbourhoods have also been getting the fewest vaccines. The M4T postal code has one of the lowest rates of hospitals and deaths, but with 22.4 per cent of the population vaccinated, while the M3N neighbourhood — which has the second worst rate of hospitals and deaths, and the highest rates of COVID infections in the city — has only 5.5 per cent of its population vaccinated.
As The Local summarized, “The Torontonians least at-risk are being vaccinated. Those most at risk are not.”
The places where there’s more vaccines happening are, on average, richer and whiter. The places with fewer vaccines are less white, and less well-off. They’re areas with more immigrants working jobs that can’t be done from home, living in smaller places with more people, taking public transit to their essential workplaces.
While science suggests that prioritizing essential workers prevents more cases and deaths than a purely age-based approach, governments never let a little thing like data impact their policy. This is just a snapshot of Toronto, of course, but other cities and provinces don’t report data with this kind of granularity, so we can’t see how COVID and vaccine rates compare by postal code in other places.
As if systemic healthcare inequalities on social, racial and economic lines weren’t enough, there’s also a healthy dose of ableism thrown in. People deemed clinically vulnerable are, by and large, getting earlier vaccine access across the country. But the priority lists aren’t including dozens of conditions that can lead to higher fatality rates — like spinal cord injuries or developmental disabilities.
Advocacy group Dignity Denied put out a statement challenging the current vaccine policy, writing, “No one who might be denied a vent[ilator] under triage protocols should be denied early access to vaccine.”
This Week From Passage
“These Shutdowns Will Remain Useless Until They Protect Workers.” Robert Hiltz
Provincial governments across Canada are locking down, once again. But each lockdown is laxer than the last — and industrial parts of the economy are routinely left alone. Warehouses and meatpacking plants continue despite outbreaks. Non-essential shops remain open. This lets businesses make money, so long as we don’t mind sacrificing workers. Telling the poorest in society their health is less important than the profits of the richest is definitely a choice.
“A movement with both overt and quiet connections to fascists that advocates the spread of a virus that has disproportionately harmed Black, Indigenous and racialized people, must be first and foremost called a white supremacist movement,” Passae columnist Nora Loreto writes. Anti-vaxxers are dangerous, and the media continues to cover them with minimal scrutiny — negligence that masquerades as “objectivity.”
Elsewhere In Canada
“The Federal NDP Needs A Culture Shift At The Top.” Jessa McLean, Ricochet.
This weekend is the NDP convention, so you know there’s a whole wealth of think pieces on what the party needs right now. The NDP is a strange beast: it’s the most obvious political home for left-wing Canadians that seems to hate the very grassroot activists who do the most for them. Jessa McLean lays out how the current top brass in the party need to change course. Stop ignoring organizers, and listen to them instead.
“Jordan Peterson Is Shocked To Discover His Resemblance To Nazi Supervillain The Red Skull.” Matthew Dessem, Slate.
The National Post this week decided to dedicate a whole frontpage story to how Jordan Peterson felt sad that a comic book villain spouted parodies of his ideas. I, personally, appreciated this weird story in the face of all the current terrible news we’re dealing with, because it’s always fun to dunk on a man who eats only beef and salt. This write-up has extra information on the comics, if you’re looking for some light reading.
Around the World
“How Total Violence Has Become The Myanmar Military’s Chosen Route To Power.” Francis Wade, New Statesman.
I don’t love the New Statesman (as I’ve written elsewhere, they arguably helped catapult anti-trans “feminism” into the British mainstream) but they sometimes put out good international content. This piece looks at the Myanmar military’s systemic use of violence, and how soldiers are indoctrinated into seeing aggression as a necessary form of defence.
“In The Caucasus, There Is a Peace Agreement But Not Peace.” Georgi Derluguian speaking to Loren Balhorn, Jacobin.
There’s been little international coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh war since a ceasefire was signed last November. This in-depth interview covers the region’s past, its future and how various other international actors are using the conflict to further their own aims.
Ideas & Culture
“Politics Are Momentarily Weird Enough To Take On Global Capitalism.” Hamilton Nolan, In These Times.
United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wants to set a 21 per cent minimum tax rate in more than 100 countries to try and prevent corporate tax havens. Hamilton Nolan explores how even the American right might be willing to enact business tax policies due to growing disdain for business getting too big for its boots.
“The High Cost Of A Cheap Break In The Sun.” Ximena Gonzalez, The Tyee.
The global north tendency for rich retirees to flow to warmer, cheaper countries over winter is long established. Ximena Gonzalez lays out how it’s problematic for the countries that are getting gentrified. While it’s focused on Canadian snowbirds, these same dynamics play out in other countries too.
One Last Thing
Killer Cops Canada is a blog dedicated to tracking the number of people killed by police. There have already been four deaths so far in April, including a sixteen year old. Police investigations into these deaths are pointless when they routinely excuse officers for murder.
Quick question: do you think the article you just read would be published elsewhere?
Odds are that it would never run in Canada's corporate media. That's why we're asking you to be a part of building a real, left alternative to corporate media — so that more people are exposed to viewpoints and ideas like this one.
But without your support, it's an impossible task. We depend 100% on readers like you becoming members to pay writers and fund our operations. We don't take money from wealthy backers and we don't run ads.Become a member