Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 17, 2020
A COVID Christmas can still be a giving time
Christmas is traditionally the biggest time for giving in Canada, but in this pandemic year that almost certainly won’t be the case.
Burdened by COVID-19-related financial stresses, fewer Canadians will be donating to charities this year, and many of those who do will offer less. At the same time, the pandemic has piled new responsibilities on top of the already burdensome workloads of many of the country’s charities that do everything from supporting the homeless to funding hospitals and vital medical research.
We’re not trying to make the year more depressing than it’s already been, but for the country’s charities, these conditions have created the perfect storm. And those fortunate Canadians who are still able to give to others should be aware of this.
They should listen to Bruce MacDonald, chief executive of Imagine Canada which works to support other charities across the land.
“The crisis is of a scale that we’ve not seen before,” he says, and his organization’s research backs his warning. No less than 68 per cent of Canadian charities have reported a drop in donations since the pandemic began. That translates into a massive, 30.6-per-cent decline in overall charitable revenues and possible losses of between $4.2 billion and $6.3 billion heading into a new year.
Hundreds of charities have already closed in 2020, even as 46 per cent of organizations in the sector told Imagine Canada that demands for their services have risen. Without a quick — and as yet unforeseen — turnaround, more charities will be forced to close while others will lay off staff and cut back the services they provide.
The public may not quickly notice some of these changes, even if they eventually prove profound. While there are close to 90,000 registered charities in the country, most are small, with budgets less $500,000 and are mainly run by volunteers. But the public might be surprised by some of the big-name charities have suffered a major hit.
The Globe and Mail recently reported that donations to the Canadian Cancer Society plunged by 70 per cent or $70 million this year while Cystic Fibrosis Canada had to cut 10 of its 69 staff members after what is expected to be a $6-million drop in its revenues.
Givings to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada fell by $13.5 million, just over 20 per cent, while after reducing its own operating costs by 30 per cent, the hard-hit United Way of Calgary is warning the organizations it supports that its funding to them could fall by the same amount.
Yes, the challenge facing the nation’s charities is grim. It’s not about numbers, either; it’s about people and social well-being. But it makes no sense to try to guilt every Canadian into stepping up because so many can’t.
Just 51 per cent of Canadians recently surveyed by Imagine Canada said they intend to make charitable donations this holiday season, a steep drop from the 62 per cent who answered in the affirmative in 2014. Thirty-six per cent of those who do plan to give say they will give less and the reason is often the same — the pandemic’s financial fallout.
So where does that leave Canada in this supposed season of giving? Whatever upheaval this year has brought, millions of Canadians have survived COVID-19 unscathed, their incomes and lifestyles untouched by the coronavirus. That’s also a fact.
To them we would say first: Consider the urgent, diverse and pervasive needs all around you. Then, we would simply add: Please remember your means. (Globe & Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 15, 2020
Seniors, long-term care workers should be first in line for COVID-19 vaccine, committee says
The independent committee charged with deciding who should be the first Canadians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 today released its final directive recommending that long-term care home residents and seniors over the age of 80 get priority access to shots.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said the initial, limited quantity of vaccine doses should be reserved for people who are most at risk of contracting the virus and developing severe symptoms.
While the federal government is procuring the vaccines and consulting with bodies like NACI to help coordinate distribution based on need, it will be up to the individual provinces and territories to decide who gets vaccinated when.
Canada’s long-term care homes have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, with thousands of deaths reported since the onset of this pandemic.
NACI said that since the elderly residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities, retirement homes and chronic care hospitals face “severe outcomes” and a much greater chance of dying from the disease, they should be at the top of the list for the initial batch of roughly six million doses that will be made available in Canada in the first three months of 2021.
Pfizer’s vaccine, which is expected to be the first product approved by regulators for use in Canada, requires two doses — so roughly three million people should be inoculated in this first stage of the rollout.
NACI said it’s not just the residents who should go first — it’s also recommending that provinces and territories prioritize the staff who work at these sites for early vaccination.
After long-term care home residents and staff are immunized, NACI said the next priority group should be all Canadians over the age of 80.
“All adults of advanced age should be prioritized for initial doses of authorized COVID-19 vaccines, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit in 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available,” the final directive reads.
After the 80-plus cohort is vaccinated, front line health care workers should be next in the queue, said NACI.
The committee said that doctors, nurses and other staff at hospitals should get their shots early to maintain staffing levels in the health care system.
“Immunizing health care workers and other workers functioning in a health care capacity (e.g. personal support workers) minimizes the disproportionate burden of those taking on additional risks to protect the public, thereby upholding the ethical principle of reciprocity,” the directive reads.
NACI also expressed concern about Indigenous adults living in communities “where infection can have disproportionate consequences, such as those living in remote or isolated areas.”
Because health care options are limited at the best of times in these remote areas,
Indigenous individuals can face an elevated risk of death and “societal disruption,” NACI said. For that reason, the committee said that some First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities should be in the first cohort to get vaccinated.
These four groups — long-term care residents and staff, the elderly, front line health care workers and some Indigenous adults — are expected to consume all of the six million doses to be delivered in the first three months of 2021.
“As a ballpark, these four groups of people, as things are rolled out, should be covered by the initial doses,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. (CBC News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 16, 2020
More Senate Republicans warily accept Trump’s loss after Electoral College vote.
Support for President Trump’s attempt to overturn his election loss began to collapse in the Senate on Monday after the Electoral College certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, with many of the chamber’s top Republicans saying the time had come to recognize results that have been evident for weeks.
While they insisted that Mr. Trump could still challenge the results in court should he wish, the senators said the certification should be considered the effective conclusion of an election that has fiercely divided the country. And after weeks of silence as Mr. Trump and others in their party sought to overturn the results in increasingly extreme ways, they urged their colleagues to move on.
“I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election, but in the end, at some point, you have to face the music,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, Republicans’ No. 2, told reporters in the Capitol. “And I think once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on.”
Even Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who initially fanned Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud in key battleground states, said he now saw only “a very, very narrow path for the president” and had spoken with Mr. Biden and some of his likely cabinet nominees.
“I don’t see how it gets there from here, given what the Supreme Court did,” he added, referring to the justices’ decision on Friday to reject a long-shot suit by Texas seeking to overturn the results in a handful of states Mr. Biden won.
The comments amounted to a notable and swift sea change in a body that for weeks has essentially refused to acknowledge the inevitable, although the shift was far from unanimous.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, stayed conspicuously silent on Monday, declining to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory. He dedicated his only public remarks to stimulus negotiations and ignored a question about the Electoral College proceeding shouted by a reporter in the Capitol.
It was unclear on Monday if those who relented were a harbinger of a larger shift by elected Republicans to accept Mr. Trump’s defeat, or a sign of a growing rift within the party between those willing to accept reality and those — a loyal core in the Senate and the vast majority in the House — who appear ready to follow him wherever he leads.
Mr. McConnell’s allies said that he would honor the election outcome come January, but did not want to pick a fight with Mr. Trump now, for fear of damaging Republicans’ chances in a pair of January Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will decide control of the chamber.
He is also concerned, they said, that doing so could jeopardize a string of year-end legislative priorities that will require the president’s signature, including a catchall spending measure and the stimulus package to address the continuing toll of the pandemic. (New York Times)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 12, 2020
Trump largely mum on toll of coronavirus as he continues to fight election results
U.S. President Donald Trump has been highlighting lots of really big numbers this week: New highs for the stock market. The 100-plus House members backing a lawsuit challenging his election loss. The nearly 75 million people who voted for him.
All the while, he’s looked past other staggering and more consequential figures: The record numbers of coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations and new cases among the citizens of the nation he leads.
On Friday, Trump’s team blasted out a text with this strong, high-minded presidential message: “We will not bend. We will not break. We will never give in. We will never give up.”
But it was not a rallying cry to help shore up Americans sagging under the toll of a pandemic that on Wednesday alone killed more Americans than on D-Day or 9-11. It was part of a fundraising pitch tied to Senate races in Georgia and to Trump’s unsupported claims that Democrats are trying to “steal” the presidential election he lost.
Of Trump’s tweets over the past week, 82 per cent have been focused on the election and just 7 per cent on the virus — almost all of those related to forthcoming vaccines — according to Factba.se, a data analytics company. Nearly a third of the president’s tweets on the election were flagged by Twitter for misinformation.
As he talks and tweets at length about the election he is futilely trying to subvert, the president is leaving Americans without a central figure to help them deal with their grief over loved-ones’ deaths and the day-to-day danger of the pandemic that still rages. His strategy is to focus totally on the shiny object coming soon — the prospect of a vaccine.
Friday night, the the Food and Drug Administration gave the final go-ahead to a vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic. But Trump’s three-minute internet address hailing the vaccine made no mention of the toll the virus has taken.
Calvin Jillson, a presidential historian at Southern Methodist University, said Trump has proven himself unable or unwilling to muster the “normal and natural, falling-off-a-log simple presidential approach” that is called for in any moment of national grief or crisis.
“He simply doesn’t seem to have the emotional depth, the emotional reserves to feel what’s happening in the country and to respond to it in the way that any other president — even those who’ve been fairly emotionally crippled — would do,” Jillson said.
Trump did convene a summit this week to highlight his administration’s successful efforts to help hasten the development of coronavirus vaccines and prepare for their speedy distribution. And he spent part of Friday pressing federal authorities to authorize use of the first-up vaccine candidate from Pfizer.
At his summit, the president put heavy emphasis on the faster-than-expected development of the vaccines, calling it “an incredible success,” “a monumental national achievement,” “really amazing” and “somewhat of a miracle.” He’s also claimed credit, though Pfizer developed its vaccine outside the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed.”
In a passing nod to the pandemic’s toll, Trump promised the coming vaccines would “quickly and dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations,” adding that “we want to get back to normal.” But it will be months before most Americans have access to a vaccine.
Asked what message he had for Americans suffering great hardship as the holidays approach and the virus only gets worse, Trump’s answer had an almost clinical tone.
“Yeah, well, CDC puts out their guidelines, and they’re very important guidelines,” he said, “but I think this: I think that the vaccine was our goal.”
To focus otherwise would undercut Trump’s goal of minimizing the national pain of the virus’ toll and his claims that the danger will soon vanish.
Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, on Friday answered that approach with a promise for greater presidential leadership. Of the virus, he said: “We can wish this away, but we need to face it.”
Jeff Shesol, a presidential historian and former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, said Trump’s failure to express empathy was a “personal pathology manifesting itself as political strategy.” (Global News)