The Canadian federal debt is expected to top $1.2 trillion as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the economy. (Stock photo)

EDITORIAL: Counting the costs of a pandemic

As COVID-19 continues, Canada’s debt and deficit are growing while credit rating drops

Forecasts from the federal government predict close to two million Canadians without jobs and a federal deficit of $343.2 billion.

Canada’s debt is also growing and is predicted to top $1.2 trillion by the end of the fiscal year.

And Fitch Ratings recently downgraded Canada’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.

These bleak economic conditions come as a result of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early into the pandemic, the federal government responded quickly with numerous assistance programs for individuals and businesses affected by the shutdowns.

Many have received payments under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Others have received other forms of assistance from the federal government. The payments have made a difference for many who would have otherwise been struggling financially, especially in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Providing little or nothing in the way of assistance might have taken pressure off the federal government, but such a choice would have pushed huge numbers of Canadians into financial stress.

The question to ask now is what happens next.

Under the best-case scenario, if a vaccine or a cure were suddenly developed, it would be possible for the Canadian economy to rebound and for those now receiving the benefits to return to work. But the federal government would still need to address the debt and deficit.

Money woes do not simply vanish on their own. If the pandemic continues for another year or two, or if a second wave were to develop, the effects would be much worse.

With an increased debt load and a downgraded credit rating, it could become difficult for the federal government to acquire the money necessary to cope with the costs of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

At this point, there is no value in pointing fingers or in asking whether the federal government should have taken a different approach in its response to this pandemic.

The more important question is how to respond from here. This is a difficult question since nobody knows how long this pandemic will continue or whether a second wave will result in another massive shutdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many in Canada.

The costs of coping with this pandemic will be felt for many years to come.

CoronavirusEditorialsfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

Opening night lineup for online Roots & Blues festival released

The first night of the festival on Aug. 14 will be stacked with favourites from previous years

Revelstoke’s forestry museum launches podcasts and new website

One of their summer students is working remotely

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 6

Chautauqua, CPR strike and destructive fire

Morning Start: The human body contains trace amounts of gold

Your morning start for Friday, August 7, 2020

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Number of Kelowna-linked COVID-19 cases grows to 159

Interior Health reported four new cases region-wide on Friday, 18 remain active

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Police watchdog deems Kelowna RCMP not responsible for man’s death

The man spoke to police after a car crash before leaving on foot; he was found dead six hours later

Most Read