Why we need to know
The life blood of a democracy is unquestionably access to accurate and timely information.
And this is where the Yukon government has fallen short in its communication around COVID-19.
Yes, there is a government website but how easy is it to navigate? And how appealing is it? Will it grab attention like FB, Tik Tok and Twitter.
Or even like the website for the NWT. https://www.gov.nt.ca/covid-19/
Now that’s a work of communication art — colour, visuals and easily read important statistics all on a one-page dashboard.
In this day and age, if people have to dig for information, most will not persist.
A government needs to tell people what they need to know in an attention-grabbing and efficient manner. They need to utilize different methods of communication (words, pictures, videos etc.) to accommodate a wide variety of learning needs. Otherwise the message falls on deaf ears and when that happens, we all lose out.
Accurate and timely information is not enough but it is a start.
When information is specialized, the public needs explanations so they can begin to understand what they hear and see.
Weekly updates on FB live are not enough. Sometimes too much information, especially when it is number-driven, is rarely absorbed in one sitting.
References to easily available sources where we can follow up would be useful.
Repeating a clear message in other arenas might make it through the noise of everyday life.
For example, we are told that Yukon uses modeling to estimate number of potential cases. What kind of modeling? Who does it? Where can those so inclined get further information?
For example, in March 2020 when the Civil Emergency Measures Act was first brought into force, how many people knew that that happened because the modeling at the time predicted 150 people would need to hospitalized by May 15, 2020 if the virus was allowed to run freely.
Yes, this is how fast the original virus moved.
It is no good burying this kind of information in reports that most people don’t read.
And who in the public understood what a dire scenario this was with only 68 hospital beds and four ICUs in the territory?
Consequences of action and inaction need to be spelled out in terms the average Joe (and Jane) can understand.
When Delta arrived in the Yukon on August 18/19, 2021, why did the government wait until Nov. 8 to announce another round of CEMA? Why weren’t we told of the increase in Delta on a daily basis? Why weren’t we warned that a crackdown would happen when the modeling indicated this was necessary?
When it did happen, Yukoners sprang into action. Thankfully, most complied. A vocal few did not.
But how much more powerful it could be if regular citizens really understood the situation because they were given accurate and timely information.
Social media (with all its misinformation) needs a powerful antidote. That could be a well-informed citizenry?
And according to what I understand, the government will need very powerful antidotes to the messages being put out by vaccine refusers.
Apparently, it is just about impossible to shift the world-view of these individuals. As a whole, they are nonconformist and part of their identity is bound up with being recognized as a nonconformist. Many are anti-science and anti-government and find many conspiracy theories believable.
Additionally, they believe they know more than scientists and medical specialists.
There’s not much wiggle room for government but one antidote is to ensure that all pro-vaccine citizens are well informed so we can hang together. The silent majority must not lose our resolve to beat this pandemic with vaccines, masking, physical distancing and other public health measures.
Governments world-wide are already pushing back against the vocal minority. When a government enacts strong measures against people who won’t willingly accept vaccination, they need to be sure that the rest of us understand why these are necessary.
Maybe we need some straight talking like the Germans got this week. Their health minister is reported to have said that the rapid rise in cases means all unvaccinated people in Germany will have caught COVID-19 by the end of the winter and some of those will die.
Memorably, he said, “By the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany … will have been vaccinated, recovered or died.”
But no one can say they weren’t warned.
On staffing in long term care
I’m writing this letter to provide insight on what’s truly happening and the grave mistake the current government is making.
I’ve personally witnessed the shortage of nursing staff first hand in our long term care homes. Residents have been complaining to staff and management consistently about how this affects their wellbeing.
This past week I witnessed a situation that was truly disturbing. A nurse attempted to call in sick, which is exactly what they’re required to do when they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The scheduling office requested they come in regardless of their situation. Once they showed up at the facility they were denied access to the building due to their symptoms. Before leaving, a managing nurse intervened and requested they stay as they were short staffed. She insisted she go home and so did the staff responsible for granting or denying access to the building. Again, the managing nurse asked her to stay. She used guilt tactics to manipulate her and of course, she stayed.
This is only one example of people being forced to work with our vulnerable population. The same vulnerable population we’re suppose to protect by getting vaccinated. Regardless of vaccination status, anyone can carry and transmit this virus.
No matter how short staffed a facility may be, the whole point of this mandate is to prevent the spread.
If these mandates go forward the already diminished staff among the many sectors of the Yukon government will continue to feel the effects of a major shortage.
How is this about the health and safety of Yukoners when people are being forced to work when sick?
How is this about a better Yukon when we’re about to eliminate jobs in an already overworked and understaffed situation?