Lately, I’ve heard or read the idiom Flying by the seat of his pants” quite a lot. This idiom was born in 1938 when an adventurous pilot’s flight plan to cross the Atlantic in his plane of dubious mechanical repute was rejected. So, he resubmitted one to fly from New York to California instead. But on July 19, 1938, he feigned that his compass wasn’t working, and he ended up flying east across the Atlantic from New York and landed in Dublin, Ireland.
One must understand that back in the 1930s, planes did not have today’s radios, GPS guidance and other sophisticated instrumentation. Instead, pilots had to rely upon a standard compass, perception of environmental conditions, their own instincts, and an intimate connection to their aircraft capabilities that, it is said, they could sense right through their posterior.
As a result of this daring adventure, on the following day, the headline in the Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper read, ‘Corrigan Flies By The Seat Of His Pants,” referring to his tale that he had to count on the vibes received by his posterior emanating from his plane. Hence the idiom, ‘flying by the seat of his pants’ was born.
To me, this story describes to a tee Doug Ford’s approach to navigating the pandemic, which has now seen its second anniversary. Time and time again, New Democrats have called upon the government to get out in front of problems on the horizon so that the situation does not become a full-blown crisis. We have called upon the government to develop plans in advance. But unfortunately, Doug Ford chose to sit on his hands until the province was overwhelmed in almost every case.
Think back to last May when Ontario had to close its schools to help limit spreading the virus. Day after day after day, the NDP called upon the government to use the time they had in the spring and summer. Here are just a few of the NDPs releases calling on the Ford government to begin planning in earnest:
- May 27, 2021 “Doug Ford has had many months to build a plan to make schools safe to re-open. Instead, he chose to do nothing for months.”
- June 9, 2021, “Now, Doug Ford is so resistant to spending the money on our children and their schools, the list of necessary repairs going ignored is stacking up at an incredible rate.”
- July 6, 2021, “Schools re-open in eight weeks. Experts agree: the hybrid learning fiasco must end, and students must be back in schools safely. Yet Stephen Lecce appears to be avoiding investment in our children, again.”
- August 4, 2021, NDP calls for a Safe Schools plan robust enough to prevent disruptions to in-person learning.
- September 7, 2021, NDP calls for comprehensive rapid testing for all Ontario schools
- December 17, 2021, “Ontario NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said Doug Ford must urgently implement measures to prevent further shutdowns of Ontario schools amid rising COVID cases and the alarming transmissibility of Omicron.”
- December 30, 2021, Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Education critic Marit Stiles are proposing new measures to help students and staff go back to school safely — and urging the Ford government to stop making parents and educators wait until the last minute for information.
- January 18, 2022, “The goal now is to keep schools open right through to June, says Official Opposition… Ford still hasn’t implemented the safety measures experts, parents, teachers and education workers have asked for — like smaller class sizes, air quality testing and vaccine mandates.”
And the delays in planning are not limited to back to school. Doug Ford has consistently been flying by the seat of his pants, implementing plans to address shortages in doctors, nurses and PSWs.
Just days ago, Andrea Horwath joined with the Ontario Nurses Association to call on the Ford government to develop and implement urgently needed plans to resolve a province-wide nursing crisis. Ontario right now finds itself in desperate need of more than 22,000 nurses. Andrea said, “Nurses are run off their feet, working double shifts day after day, and caring for too many patients at once, all the time. They’re wiped out, and they can’t keep going like this, no matter how often they get called heroes. We have to do better for them and for patients.”
The NDP is also calling Doug Ford to clear a pathway to address the nursing shortage by removing the roadblock that stands in the way of retired nurses who are prepared to help vaccinate Ontarians against COVID-19 as the province battles Omicron. The NDP has also been trying to convince the government to reintroduce a previously enacted emergency order that would reduce the processing time for processing the applications from retired nurses who want to help. As it stands today, it takes many weeks for such applications to be processed.
Hospital funding freezes caused 1,600 nurse layoffs during the last Liberal government, leaving Ontario with the worst Registered Nurse-to-population ratio in all of Canada. Even before the pandemic began, Ontario nurses were at a disadvantage. Years of cuts and funding freezes meant nurses were already overwhelmed on every shift. But instead of fixing that, Doug Ford brought in his wage-suppression law, Bill 124, which drove thousands of our members to walk away. Not having paid sick days or mental health supports drove out even more. Not having consistent access to N95 masks is causing more of them to get sick.
Ontarians are sick of living under a reactive government that flies by the seat of its pants. Ontario deserves to thrive under leadership that cares about people rather than political patronage and profits. We need a government with a steady hand on the wheel that lays out and implements proactively engineered plans to achieve necessary goals.
Many people in Ontario are unhappy with the current cabin crew piloting our plane. June 2, 2022, provides us with an opportunity to replace the current seat of the pants government that has struggled to find its way for the last four years.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.