As the first big outdoor concert approaches (Guerrilla Gigs featuring Shred Kelly on July 24) and the border is scheduled to be reopened, I am excited for things to go back to normal.
But at the same time, I don’t want everything to go back to how it was before COVID-19.
The pandemic brought to light many systemic issues. For example, how many people don’t have access to paid sick leave.
That shouldn’t be ushered back into the shadows as we recover.
In May 2020, the federal government committed to introduce legislation giving 10 days of paid sick leave for everyone. However there has been no concrete action taken to permanently adopt this (though there was a sick-leave benefit available during the pandemic).
With the ongoing threat of climate change, it is possible another pandemic could happen in our lifetimes. According to Dr. Aaron Bernstein, director of Harvard’s centre for climate, health and the global environment, many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics.
“Deforestation, which occurs mostly for agricultural purposes, is the largest cause of habitat loss worldwide,” Bernstein said.
“Loss of habitat forces animals to migrate and potentially contact other animals or people and share germs. Large livestock farms can also serve as a source for spillover of infections from animals to people.”
I hope that this whole ‘stay home when you’re sick’ mentality sticks around (spreading influenza or a cold isn’t great, either), and if we want that to be the case, we need paid sick days.
The pandemic also showed cracks in our childcare system as parents were forced to stay home with their children when daycares and schools closed.
Still others had no choice but to work, with little or no access to savings due to low-income jobs –people such as grocery store clerks had to choose between possibly being exposed to the virus at work or not pay rent at the end of the month.
Demand tripled at the food bank.
Overdose deaths continued.
Mental health services were overwhelmed.
However, just enough people were ‘doing okay’ that all of these things we learned could very well be forgotten. I was reading an article from The Wall Street Journal about the economic recovery and how it is “unlike anything we have ever seen.”
It goes on about how some of the people who didn’t lose their jobs were able to pay down debt and increase their savings during the COVID shutdowns because they couldn’t spend money how they normally would (eating out, shopping, travelling etc.).
And, as the world seems to revolve around financial impacts rather than other things, I can see a whole lot of people saying “Well, I was okay, so why do we need to change anything?”
But, I hope that is not the case.
We should remember history so that we don’t let it repeat itself.
COVID is still happening, but the same idea applies – let’s hope we learned our lesson and do everything in our power to not let it repeat itself.