Fallout from destructive COVID-19 policies still plaguing families

Such harm was detailed by Rebel News' employee Tamara Ugolini, who landed a job with Rebel for her advocacy work on re-opening arbitrarily restricted public outdoor spaces.

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Rebel News' Senior Editor and Journalist Tamara Ugolini recently shared her personal testimony at the National Citizen's Inquiry in Toronto, Ontario. Ugolini has reported on the inquiry itself but spoke in her personal capacity for this particular hearing.

She detailed how COVID-related restrictions affected her family at the onset of the pandemic declaration in March 2020 at the citizen-led, citizen-funded commissioned inquiry.

Ugolini had her first run in with law enforcement a mere few weeks after the declaration of the state of emergency in Ontario when she brought her four children and youngest sibling to a local pebble beach to throw rocks in the water. They ran into some friends, chatted for a few minutes, and the friends carried on, expressing concern over being seen “gathering” outdoors.

Shortly thereafter, an officer approached Ugolini from behind. “She asked me if the children in my care were all mine because we were over the five allotted people outside together,” she explained.

Expanding on a beach incident that would follow a few months later, Ugolini said that “there was a culmination of events that led to my questioning of some of the arbitrary closures that were happening in my local municipality of the Town of Cobourg.. and really lends to why I was engaging in the advocacy work that I was in this particular incident that you’re asking me about.”

She detailed how she and her husband remortgaged their home to execute a five year plan to start a small business in the late fall of 2019, a sole proprietorship where her husband would operate a hydro-vac excavator, which was purchased on a one-year rent-to-own contract.

The couple moved their family into a family member's home and rented out their home temporarily to alleviate the carrying cost of the new business that had a nearly $20,000 monthly overhead.

As is the nature of excavation in cold winter months, December and January were a hard go for the new business. “February was still a little bit tough but March 2020 was his best month worked,” Ugolini said.

Two weeks later, “the Ford government instituted further restrictions on construction and the company that my husband's company was subcontracted to shut down their construction across Ontario for one month,” she explained further. At that point, we only had one month's worth of overhead left.”

The government grants available to small businesses at the time only applied to those who had one full year of tax returns filed – which they did not.

“Even if we were able to [apply for grants], I don’t know how we’d ever repay those grants given the situation that we were in with the rental of this vehicle and not having any consistent work from April onward.”

By June, the couple made the difficult decision to terminate their rent-to-own contract on the heavy equipment, faced with economic uncertainty and no financials to fall back on, which had a ripple affect on the commission based company that the equipment was being leased from.

“No one would have ever foresaw that a mere six months later, we’d be facing unprecedented lockdowns and closures and economic sanctions by our own government,” she shared.

Feeling as though there was “nothing left to lose” – and after months of advocacy and petitioning the local municipality to re-open the beach and other arbitrarily restricted green spaces – Ugolini felt compelled to engage in an act of civil disobedience against what she calls “unlawful restrictions.”

For walking an empty beach shoreline that does not have a definitive property line, Ugolini was threated by bylaw and a handful of responding officers with a trespass fine after fellow citizens complained that people were walking the restricted shoreline.

Stating repeatedly that she was not trespassing on Crown land, Ugolini refused to receive it.

For what the Cobourg police coined as “an obstruction of justice,” Ugolini was handcuffed, detained and held in the local jail after having her mug shots and finger prints taken. She was charged criminally and slapped with a trespass fine, both of which were deemed nil months later.

“For walking my local shore in defiance of arbitrary COVID restrictions when no one could answer whether or not outdoor viral spread is a documented, scientific thing which to this day we know, it is not,” Ugolini detailed while noting that communication with the town asking for justification and the evidence that the closure was necessary repeatedly fell on deaf ears.

Ugolini’s husband would further lose his employment approximately 18 months after the business loss due to a refusal to disclose his private medical information, after the indiscriminate enforcement of workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

He worked primarily outside, and alone.

His employer was unable to ascertain the justification or reasonableness of the policy that did not allow for any accommodations. In communications with one supervisor, they confirmed to the family that the policy was about vaccine uptake, not immunity.

Being on maternity leave with a seven-month old infant at home and working a modest part-time job, Ugolini said that their “loose plan” was for her husband to take the remaining maternity benefits while she pivoted to fulltime work; to buy them a few months to figure out the next steps.

However, due to new federal employment insurance (EI) codes, his termination deemed him as noncompliant with a workplace safety policy and made him ineligible to receive EI benefits.

The family then had to make drastic adjustments on household expenses and pulled their older children from the private Montessori school that they had been committed to for 10 years prior.

Ugolini details that “to this day, we struggle to find consistent, reliable childcare because we lost our space in that school where the younger children would have been grandfathered in.”

“For anyone who says that COVID is over and the worst is behind us, there are still people out there suffering the fall out of these misinformed policies.”

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