COVID and campaigning: How important is the issue in Ontario?

May 24, 2022 | COVID-19, News

Even though two Ontario political party leaders have been sidelined with COVID-19, experts are divided on how much the pandemic is a factor in the current election campaign.

Last week, with just two weeks before the provincial elections, two prominent party leaders, Andrea Horwath and Mike Schreiner tested positive for COVID-19 which sidelined them from the race to win the seats.

Horwath tested negative Tuesday morning and said she will return to in person campaigning on Wednesday. Schreiner is also planning to return to in-person campaigning on Wednesday.

Dr. Mark Berber, a psychiatrist at Markham Stouffville Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University said COVID should not be a main focus right now.

“People have moved forward from COVID-19. It shouldn’t be the main focus,” Berber said.

The price of living, gas, vegetables, and buying a new home should be an area of concern, said Berber, a COVID specialist.

“COVID-19 was never a problem but the responses such as lockdown and government policies to control it were the major issues which resulted in mass inflation,” Berber said.

In the election, the Ontario party leaders’ main focus should be how we are going to handle the terrible inflation caused by the lockdowns, he said.

Dr. James Tiessen, an associate professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, repeated what Berber said.

“We’re starting to treat it as almost normal,” said Tiessen, who is the director of the Master of Health Administration program.

“Now as most people are vaccinated, it’s not as dangerous as it was. So I believe that we’re just now getting used to it.”

None of the parties election are concerned about the COVID-19 rising cases because we are prepared for the new variant, Tiessen said.

The main parties have issued various news releases regarding their future plans, but none of them included COVID-19 investment plans.

Ronald Buliung, an expert in the COVID-19 study and a professor at the University of Toronto, expressed some concern that no leader in the province is focusing on COVID-19 plans.

We are vaccinated but that doesn’t mean we can sideline this issue,” Buliung said, “COVID-19 is still the biggest concern we should think about this election.”

“I don’t see any article or prospect plan coming out for COVID-19 by any party till now,” Buliung said.