Stay the Blazes Home

Stay the Blazes Home

Stay home. Unless you’re going to a big box store. Or gathering with up to five friends outside somewhere, for something or other. Confused? Well just stay the blazes home.

If this week’s new provincial regulations were merely confusing, that would be easier to deal with. But this jumble of contradictory half measures will almost certainly be deadly.

The numbers are just too high and rising much too fast to roll the dice, in the vague hope that some lucky break will somehow prevail over scientific evidence …

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What’s old, and new in COVID

What’s old, and new in COVID

Much has happened in the three weeks since my last newsletter.

Let’s start with what’s new that looks frighteningly similar to what’s old: far too many of us – many more than the politicians who jetted off to sunny climes while urging everyone else to stay home – haven’t followed Public Health advice. As a result, we’ve seen an even more dangerous spike in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths.

This week, Toronto recorded 5600 new cases – up from the already alarming 4072 four weeks ago and …

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Reducing COVID – If Only in My Dreams

Reducing COVID – If Only in My Dreams

Whatever we’re doing or have stopped doing, it’s not good enough.

This week, Toronto’s new COVID case count didn’t just climb, it soared. The weekly case total was 4824, up from 4072 last week. The higher the case count the more likely you are to encounter the virus. By that measure, you are about 12 times more likely to catch it than you were three months ago, back when the weekly case total was 385 for the week ending September 11.

There is so much COVID out …

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The Vaccine in 600 Words

The Vaccine in 600 Words

On Wednesday, we became the third country in the world with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, behind only Britain and – for future trivia contests – Bahrain.

After receiving Health Canada approval in record time, the vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech was on a plane from Belgium today and will be in the arms of a small number of Canadians by Tuesday. Ontario has two of the initial 14 distribution centres, one of them in Toronto at UHN.

A second vaccine by Moderna, using the same technology as Pfizer and …

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Dangerous Doubling

Dangerous Doubling

Your choice: a one-time payment of one million dollars or a penny that doubles every day for a month. The mathematics of doubling causes the penny is worth more than $1 million by day 28 and more than $5 million by day 30.

Thankfully, COVID cases double at longer intervals, but the principle is the same.

At the beginning of September, when the alarm about rising numbers started being sounded, Toronto’s weekly new case total was 265. A month later it was 2001, and two months after …

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Entering The Future

Entering The Future

Entering The Future

While going through some old North York papers last week, I stumbled upon a document labelled “Vision 2020”, written 25 years ago, about the need to plan ahead for the year we’re now in. I couldn’t remember anything coming of it, so I searched Google.  Not even a mention.

That year, when opportunity came knocking, nobody was home. But next month at Council, we have a rare chance to shape Willowdale’s future in a way that will improve the lives of those who will …

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The Shutdown Has Landed

The Shutdown Has Landed

This day has been dawning for many weeks: a shutdown, which became increasingly inevitable when other measures weren’t taken early enough and large segments of the population continued to act as if it were still August, a month in which Toronto saw one day in which there was only a single new COVID case.

Starting Monday, non-essential businesses in Toronto and Peel are closed except for curbside pickup and delivery. Outdoor dining is no longer permitted. Personal services such as hair salons are closed. So are …

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Help Local Restaurants Survive

Help Local Restaurants Survive

Due to this week’s scary COVID numbers and even more frightening forecasts, indoor dining in restaurants is closed until we get the situation under control – which could be a while. Meanwhile, many of our local restaurants are experiencing extreme hardship, and more than a few are in danger of closing forever.

These are mostly small, independent, or family-run places. For them, going out of business means much more than losing a job. In many cases, they also lose something they love, their life savings, and …

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Changing the Future

Changing the Future

In Canada, those protecting our health almost always act in unison, which makes it all the more startling that Toronto had to go it alone this week, pointing to a dangerous and confusing rift between the Provincial priority to keep business open and the City emphasis on reducing sickness and death.

For months, it has been obvious that a second wave is growing so quickly that it threatens to overwhelm us. As regularly chronicled in this space, Toronto’s weekly new case total was 115 on August …

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A Turning Point Meets a Wrong Turn

A Turning Point Meets a Wrong Turn

Amid continued evidence that COVID levels remain dangerously high, the Province has created new regulations likely to make them higher.

First the numbers: Toronto’s weekly case total stands at 2445, very close to last week’s all- time high and up significantly from1900 weekly cases when the Province deemed it necessary to close bars, gyms and indoor dining. COVID hospitalizations in Toronto are up 63% over that period.

Until this week, rising numbers have meant more restrictions until the situation is under control and it is safe to …

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America the Beautiful, the Bad and the Ugly

America the Beautiful, the Bad and the Ugly

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, I took a road trip into the musical heart of America: Blues in Mississippi; R&B in Memphis; Country in Nashville; Bluegrass in rural Virginia. All served with southern BBQ, partisan chatter and, every day, something new and startling: the “Music and Firearms” store on a small town main street; the owner of Weasel’s Pawn Shop, who noticed our Canadian plates and demanded to know why we voted for socialists; a business advising shoppers that loaded handguns were welcome – …

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Numbers that Tell the Truth

Numbers that Tell the Truth

Given a choice, I’ll pick facts over political posturing every time. A case in point:

Last year, the Province abruptly slashed the amount developers pay the city to provide facilities to serve new residents. They presented it as if this was somehow a good thing for anybody other than the only ones to benefit: developers.

When I called out the Ford government on this, it offered assurances that the final version of the legislation would be “revenue neutral.” Local MPP Stan Cho went further, claiming Willowdale residents …

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