Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 18, 2021
Reopening Ontario outdoor recreational sites should focus on equity, access: advocates
Ontario golfers have been pushing the province to reopen courses ordered closed while the province is under stay-at-home orders, but some observers say access to outdoor recreational facilities serving a wider population should be just as high on the agenda.
Doctors and recreational facility administrators say Canadians need access to affordable, inclusive and local ways to get outside and exercise, so long as health care professionals deem it safe.
“Many of the people I care for live in dense apartment buildings, have small indoor spaces and don’t have the luxury of a backyard,” said Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician and health justice activist in Toronto.
“We need to really be thinking about how to keep these people physically and mentally healthy.”
Dr. Dosani and others hope the province will make any reopening of recreational opportunities equitable. As well as golf courses, basketball nets, skate parks and tennis courts have remained out of bounds for months.
Golfers and club operators argue the sport is safe since it’s possible to golf while masked and physically distanced, other provinces are currently allowing the sport and people aren’t travelling to play.
“They are looking to play their local golf course in their home community for the physical and mental health break that the sport provides,” Mike Kelly, the executive director of the Golf Association of Ontario, said in May.
Several doctors have even given golf and many other outdoor forms of exercise the green light because the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is low outside.
However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been unwilling to budge because the province has routinely reported more than 2,000 new, daily COVID-19 and many intensive care units are still overwhelmed.
“I talk to my buddies. I know what happens,” Ford said Thursday.
“They pick up another buddy, two or three. They go out, they go golfing…then after golfing, they go back, they have a few pops. That’s the problem.”
Ford said he hopes to reopen outdoor recreational facilities by June 2, but the golf industry is not relenting and some have even reopened in defiance.
Yet many say reopening plans can’t just focus on a sport that comes with pricey fees, often requires a membership and doesn’t always attract youth.
“Given what we’ve learned about this pandemic and how it has had a disproportionate impact on people experiencing poverty and racialized communities, it’s quite disappointing that there’s been such advocacy around a sport like golf,” said Dr. Dosani.
“It probably speaks to who has the loudest voice at times like this, and who has the resources to advocate.” (CTV)
Letters to the editor, The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday May 22, 2021
I found the Graeme MacKay editorial cartoon (May 18) harsh and unjustified and not up to his usual standard. The hundreds of thousands of golfers in Ontario consist of people of all ethnicities, ages and gender. They consist of doctors, nurses, front-line workers, policemen, firemen, bus drivers, truck drivers, retirees, workers at The Hamilton Spectator, etc. They are husbands, wives, grandparents, aunts and uncles. As with any large random group of people in Ontario they have suffered during the pandemic the loss of loved ones, had surgeries delayed, lost employment, lost businesses, helped their children with schooling, given to charities and hospitals and adhered to the health protocols as a group no different to others.
His illustration of a “typical” golfer is demeaning and reminds me of the comment made by Doug Ford PhD (pontificating harmful despot) this past week about golfers and their penchant for alcohol. Graeme, be careful of the company you keep.
Ed Jenner, Burlington
MacKay cartoon says it all
MacKay’s cartoon of indignant golfers was hilarious and right on point. Golfers complaining they can’t golf is the biggest first-world problem imaginable. If it’s the worst thing they have to worry about, they should consider themselves lucky.
Rosemary Gossich, Hamilton
“Having published this cartoon that seems perfectly clear, his paper received (the above) feedback from an aggrieved reader. Granted, there’s something confirming about drawing a cartoon about whiners and having someone whine about it, but the task remains to try to make your points clear while accepting that they will whooosh over some heads anyway.”