A photo of Doug Ford during the COVID-19 pandemic


Our Kids Can’t Trust the Government, and That’s a Problem

May 5, 2021

During the Easter long weekend I opened up my 9-year-old’s backpack and braced myself for an onslaught of remote learning materials, but was surprised to see it was empty.

“Pen, why didn’t your teacher send anything home for the long weekend?” I asked.

She answered that her third grade teacher had listened to an earlier announcement delivered by Ontario premier Doug Ford, and schools were set to return on Tuesday. I was shocked, considering the increase in COVID-19 cases and variants, plus the news that ICUs were nearly at capacity. It didn’t seem like the best decision to send kids back to school at the peak of the third wave.

How's your mental health these days? Mother Laura Mullin explains how she's helping her teen with mental health crises in the time of COVID-19. Read that here.

By Monday evening, many parents in my community of Guelph, Ontario learned that Dr. Nicola Mercer, the medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, was planning to order a temporary closure of schools due to an upward spike in COVID numbers within our community. By the next day it was official.

I sat down with my kids and explained the change of plans, and was unsurprised by their tears of frustration and anger.

After over a year of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on every facet of their lives, it’s no wonder they’re exhausted and unhappy with the thought of a third round of remote learning.

"By the end of our discussion, one thing became clear: My kids were starting to distrust the government."

What I wasn’t expecting was the onslaught of questions they asked regarding our government and the many mixed messages they’ve heard, whether it was at school or from snippets of conversations they have overheard in our home.

“You said that the government was letting us go back,” my intuitive seven-year-old said.

I explained that while our provincial government allowed students to return, the medical officer of our community felt it wasn’t safe. Our conversation led to even more questions about our government, and why they weren’t closing schools in the first place. While I was hesitant to engage further in more political discussions with my two elementary-aged kids, I realized that the decisions of our government have a very real impact on their daily lives.

Brianna Bell has plenty to deal with as a parent these days, and that's why jumping into the comments and having internet arguments is taking a back seat. Read that here.

By the end of our discussion, one thing became clear: My kids were starting to distrust the government. While the coronavirus pandemic has been unpredictable, we've found that our government has continuously put out placating messages rather than sharing the truth. And that they've failed to act quickly and decisively, which has only led to mixed messages and the need for follow-up announcements that often say the opposite of what was said or promised only days before. At first I felt empathy for the tough decisions the leaders of our province and country have had to make, but the longer this goes on ... the more I’m seeing how poorly our government response has been. From the terrible vaccine roll-out to the poorly executed and half-hearted lockdowns.

Seeing my young kids become jaded and untrusting towards the very people who say their priority is to protect them has been one more outcome of this pandemic. When I was eight-years-old, my biggest concern was remembering to do my homework after school, but my kids are worried about whether their school is even safe for them, whether their government is protecting them and if they can trust the words coming out of the mouths of our elected officials.

My kids can’t trust the government anymore, and that’s a problem.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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