Rowan Check-Morris was one of the people described by Premier Doug Ford as a “yahoo” after he turned up to a protest at Queen’s Park last Saturday.
Check-Morris, a contractor who works in regulatory compliance for a big bank, says he wasn’t there to protest but to rally — at a safe social distance — to support the economy.
And he holds no malice towards Ford, who he thinks is doing a “very difficult job” — especially since the federal government has dropped the ball.
Check-Morris told me Wednesday he has a secure job and is doing okay but his “heart is really hurting” for those less fortunate than him.
During his walks in his Greektown neighbourhood, he’s noticed an increased number of homeless people with all their belongings on the street or in the local parks.
He said he’s also seen an increased number of For Lease signs where restaurants once were, suggesting to him “people are pulling the plug” on their businesses.
Check-Morris says while he’s a huge proponent of protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19, he believes we need a “strong economy” to support our health-care system.
He feels the prevailing narrative should be switched from essential and non-essential businesses to safe and unsafe businesses.
He says if a big-box store such as Walmart — which sells much more than food — is allowed to be open with social distancing rules, a small mom-and-pop shop selling clothing or other goods should be permitted to do so as well.
“I don’t see the distinction,” Check-Morris said.
He thinks the wearing of masks should be “mandatory” as a “gradual, phased reopening” of stores and other services is staged, provided that these services and stores adopt safe social distancing strategies.
Check-Morris isn’t alone in his beliefs.
Despite being immunocompromised, Mona Lum is adamant that the world’s economy not be permitted to collapse to protect people like her.
Lum said a friend committed suicide last week because he lost everything. She said she has not been able to access massage and other therapies she requires for her fibromyalgia. As a result, she has been forced to double up on her painkillers.
“I feel like I’ve gone to sleep and woken up in an alternate universe,” Lum said Wednesday.
She says the vulnerable in long-term care homes and people in similar situations as her should continue to isolate but feels there needs to be “common sense” at this point.
For those who do go out, she agrees, masks should be mandatory.
Lori Leckie, a small businesswoman who is not working at the moment, agrees about the need to wear masks.
“It’s a hard custom to acclimatize to, but other countries are mandating this and so should Canada,” she said.
Lum, a single mom who came to Canada from Egypt, wants the barber shops and hairdressers to open not because she needs her hair done, but so they can pay rent and feed their families.
She wants cataract and other surgeries to restart and all doctors to start working again.
She says, however, that for now, parades, concerts and sporting events should be a no-go.
If things don’t start to move, she says, the “side effects of the shutdown will have long-term ramifications.”
Leckie, Check-Morris and Lum all agree that, with the warm weather predicted for the weekend, people should be permitted to get some fresh air in parks and on our trails — as long as they social distance — without worrying about being outed by social media bullies and police in parks.
Leckie also believes golf courses could open, as long as it’s done safely.
“As the weather warms up, there’s definitely going to be a lot of backlash to the overreach on parks,” says Check-Morris. “Snitch hotlines are absolutely terrible.”