Rod Phillips always struck me as a dilettante in business and in politics. I guess I thought of him as former Metro Toronto Chair and newspaper mogul, Paul Godfrey’s protégé. He was also always on the good side of the Lastman family. He piloted the late Mel Lastman through a few stormy seas as the first mayor of the newly amalgamated greater Toronto. It was really too bad that he could not give himself the same good advice.
Rod Phillips has always seemed to have an inflated impression of his invulnerability. He considered his holiday trips to Switzerland and the Caribbean in 2020 were of nobody’s business but his. When he went to St. Barts for Christmas, against the advice of the Canadian government, he even had premier Doug Ford lying for him. That fiasco cost him the job of finance minister for Ontario.
You can’t keep a guy like Phillips out of the limelight for long. Ford foisted the most thankless job in Ontario on him. Long-term care homes in Ontario have been going downhill for many years. Former conservative premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, is the poster boy for private long-term care homes and is still chair of Chartwell, the largest private sector long-term care provider in Canada.
If you have never seen a fish out of water, you should have seen Phillips at some of the photo ops prepared for the minister at those long-term care homes. It was though he was afraid to touch anything.
(Let me add a personal note here: As president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and as chair of public education for the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, I have visited long-term care homes across Canada and in many parts of the world. Ontario has nothing to brag about.)
Probably Phillips’ main success in long-term care was to mandate that all staff be vaccinated. And if that was a no-brainer, he also made sure some inspectors were hired so that the province might defend the homes with more knowledge of the situation.
And there he goes, off to his next challenge in the world of business. He left when only half the long-term care homes in Ontario had outbreaks of Covid.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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