As faithful readers of this blog will know, I have been posting about the lack of trust among people of lower incomes in particular because they have felt abandoned by their government, the political leaders, and political elites. Then just as I thought I was done for now on this subject Manitioba’s premier demonstrated how true this is.
I was shocked to read the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday. The paper reported on our new Conservative Premier as follows:
“As the Omicron variant roars across the province, Manitoba’s premier conceded the public—and not the government—must be responsible for limiting its spread. “This virus is running throughout our community and it’s up to Manitobans to look after ourselves,” Premier Heather Stefanson told reporters on Wednesday.”
I don’t deny that Manitobans must take responsibility for their own health. Failure to do so leads to all kinds of harms, but that does not mean we should be abandoned by our government for that too leads to serious harm, for all of us. This is exactly what Anita Sreedhar and Anand Gopal said in the New York Times:
“Over the past four decades, governments have slashed budgets and privatized basic services. This has two important consequences for public health. First, people are unlikely to trust institutions that do little for them. And second, public health is no longer viewed as a collective endeavor, based on the principle of social solidarity and mutual obligation. People are conditioned to believe they’re on their own and responsible only for themselves. That means an important source of vaccine hesitancy is the erosion of the idea of a common good.”
The Premier of Manitoba made it clear that this is exactly how she feels about Covid-19. We are on our own! It’s no wonder many Manitobans no longer believe in the common good and as a result the trust so necessary in a democracy has been shredded. It appears that this is what our Premier wants. She wants us to go at it alone.
What she is forgetting is that will have consequences for everyone. We all benefit from the public trust when it is robust. Then we are all prepared to do our part. Take vaccines, listen to sound advice from trusted experts, and chip in for the good of all. The Premier is forgetting that we all need to look after each other, particularly in a time of pandemic. We want others to take vaccines not just for their benefit, but our benefit too. They won’t do it if they feel abandoned. Then we when need them it will suck to be us.