What Kind of Canada Do We Want?

By: Laura Steiner/ Editor

Happy Canada Day! It doesn’t feel like normal does it? This COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult this year, there’s no way to sugar coat it.

We have reveled in a sense of unity brought on by a collective goal in trying to beat the pandemic. Businesses have changed manufacturing methods to make ventilators, or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Canadians have organized themselves into community groups to support those less fortunate, organized food drives, and made masks. We’ve added the expression “physical distancing” to our vocabulary, and for the most part, have complied with it.

Residents have gathered in the streets to cheer for First responders, have decorated their homes, and businesses to show support for each other, and the community. The natural environment has benefitted from the rest as well. Emissions could decline approximately 7% in 2020.

The pandemic has also done its more sinister work. It’s exposed weaknesses in the Long-Term Care system across the country forcing us to ask tough questions of how and why. Large parts of the LTC system here in Ontario have been privatized; do we return them to the government fold? Are we willing to pay the taxes it would take? What about the weaknesses in the mental health system?

It’s exposed economic disparity. Minimum wage workers at grocery stores were given a temporary raise. Some stores like Loblaw, and Sobeys are clawing it back now the worst appears to be over. Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are under an order not to work at more than one home at a time. How do we help these people to make ends meet with the limitations placed on them?

COVID-19 has even conspired with other events to force us to take a good long look in the mirror. We’ve started to see the flaws in this country; systemic racism. Police violence in the incidents of Regis Korchinsky-Paquet, and Ejaz Ahmad Chaudry. The pandemic has even given us the opportunity to listen, hear, and learn from each other in a way we might not have otherwise have done so.

Canada, at the ripe old age of 153, stands at a crossroads. We can either move back to the hustle-and-bustle of “normal”. Or we can go down a harder path. It might be more expensive, but it might also help us realize the more just society. It all depends on what kind of Canada we want.