This is a test. And like any good test, it lays bare both our strengths and our weaknesses. Here’s how we’re measuring up so far…
This crisis had revealed some real, critical problems with our society. Collapse of the global economic system seems possible, if not likely. Those living with poverty and homelessness are more vulnerable to both the virus itself and the social and economic upheaval that will follow. Employers’ inadequate sick leave and family leave policies mean that some people have choose between going to work sick, potentially infecting others, and putting food on their tables. Furthermore, the recent shift towards precarious work and household debt levels threaten families’ economic stability in a COVID-19 world. School closures have brought to light food insecurity faced by many children and families, which is also threatened by tighter borders and shortages, whether real or perceived. To make matters worse, those in domestic violence or abusive situations could be at greater risk because of close confinement with their abusers.
BUT, before you go bury yourself in a despair-filled hole, there’s some good news. We are doing well, in a lot of ways. We care about our neighbours. We are showing that the strength and resiliency of our communities comes from the people in them. Care-mongering is now a thing, thanks to some ordinary Torontonians. Social media feeds are full of memes and pleas urging everyone to stay home to protect the elderly, the vulnerable, the doctors and nurses, and the health care system. And people are doing it. Our public health officials, doctors, and nurses are going above and beyond to help keep us all safe and healthy. Not just them but workers of all kinds – grocery store clerks, truckers, postal worker, cleaners, delivery drivers. These are the people going out into the suddenly scary world every day to make sure that we have provisions to meet our daily needs. Our dedicated public servants have adapted to a new reality, and are ready to be redeployed to areas of greatest need. Manufacturers, too, are pivoting their operations quickly to meet the demand for supplies such as hand sanitizers and ventilators. Small local businesses are doing their best to protect their employees, keep their businesses afloat, and meet community needs. Technology is helping many of us work and study from home and connect with loved ones near and far. Our leaders (in Canada anyway) are showing that they have our backs, by putting partisanship aside and working together for the common good. And through it all, sheer human ingenuity is carrying the day – from parents entertaining small children in enclosed spaces to doctors rigging up ventilators for use by more than one patient at a time.
So, there is reason to hope. We will get through this. When all is said and done, and we start down the road to economic and social recovery, let’s build on our strengths: neighbours & communities, workers, committed public servants, local businesses, and human ingenuity. And let’s use those strengths as a springboard to shore up our weaknesses – poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and domestic violence. These problems can all be solved, if we work together.
When all is said and done, let’s rebuild our economy in a way that puts people and communities first. And let’s do it together.
When all is said and done, just imagine how resilient we’ll be.
*The opinions expressed in blog posts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of CCEDNet