This afternoon’s Toronto Star has a story about the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs and their farm team, the Toronto Marlies, and how they may have “jumped the line,” already receiving H1N1 vaccinations. This comes on the heels of a similar controversy with Calgary’s NHL team, the Flames. Ontario’s Health Minister Deb Matthews is, apparently, outraged at the situation in Toronto, and deemed it “unacceptable“.
The reason it’s at all an issue is the Ontario government received a limited supply of the vaccination – enough to immunize 2.2 million people – and expects to run out by the end of this week (that’s tomorrow… To The Clinics! Swarm! Swarm!). That said, the province set out strict regulations prioritizing groups to be inoculated with the first wave of medicine: pregnant women, children between six months and less than five years of age, people under the age of 65 with chronic conditions, and those living in remote communities.
My question is this: Is the issue here really NHL players receiving preferential treatment and early vaccinations?
It seems to me this is an opportunity for the Ontario government to distract the media and the public from their own bungling of the vaccinations and “priority groups” by bringing up the age-old argument of wealth and status giving way to said preferential treatment. The public rarely sympathizes with millionaire athletes, and likely even less so in the face of a mass pandemic. Still, athletes have been receiving top-shelf, preferential medical treatment for decades now. Why should it be any different in this case?
The people writing the government’s messaging surely are aware of this, and strategically used it to craft a message positioning the sad-sack Maple Leafs as the bad guys here, while the government strives to deliver vaccinations to the general public. Haven’t the Leafs suffered enough this young season? Now they’re villainous vaccination pirates, stealing life-saving inoculations from the arms of women, children and the elderly? Give me a break.
Ontario, Deb Matthews, City of Toronto, and all your respective communication departments: Concentrate on the real issues affecting your constituents, citizens and stakeholders. Stop creating controversy where there is none and instead focus your efforts on improving the situation.
Now, while the on-ice product may have you fooled, the Toronto Maple Leafs actually have no players in the priority group for vaccination. Just for fun though…
- Colton Orr (because it’s a funny thought)
Children between six months and less than five years of age?
- Luke Schenn (baby Leafer)
People under the age of 65 with chronic conditions?
- Jason Blake (it’s true)
- Phil Kessel (ditto)
- Mike Van Ryn (seriously)
Those living in remote communities?
- Vesa Toskala (nowhere near the Leaf net)