“Post COVID-19, let us regenerate the economy with the consciousness [that] all lives are equal, that we are part of the Earth, we are ecological, biological beings, working is our right and is at the heart of being human, and care for the Earth and each other is the most important work. There are no disposable or useless people.
We are One Humanity on One Planet. Autonomy, meaning, dignity, work, freedom, democracy are our birthright.”
— Vandana Shiva
We mourn the loss of so many of our fellow citizens, so many members of the human family. At this moment, nearly 400,000 people have died around the world; nearly 8,000 Canadians. We know that the death toll will keep growing as the world seeks a vaccine. Each life lost is a tragedy.
We are at a hinge moment in history. They come along rarely. These moments in time – Kairos moments – change everything.
This is an end to incrementalism. It is time to sweep away the remnants of an unjust, unsustainable world.
It is too soon to speak of COVID-19 in the past tense. The virus is invisible and among us. We must not lose sight of the imperative of observing public health advice. That advice involves keeping physical distance.
We know that one of Canada’s huge strengths compared to other nations is our social cohesion. We have a collective sense of well-being. That is why we celebrate our single universal public payer health-care system. Social cohesion makes for community resilience.
Even before the pandemic, we could see the huge advantage of communities that hold together. Just contrast Fort McMurray in the major fires as residents moved calmly through flames, first responders there to guide them, with New Orleans in Katrina where chaos ensued after hundreds of police officers fled the city before the levees gave way.
In this time of physical distance, we need to strengthen our social connections. They are life savers. We must ensure that the isolation of the pandemic does not take a toll on our mental health. All this and more we can do – together.
What we learned:
It is too early to use the past tense to describe the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not too soon to begin learning from it. The unprecedented events of the past months have reminded us that we value one another and that we are stronger, united. They have also taught us that:
- In an emergency, governments can move – fast!
- In an emergency, we can put aside our differences and work together.
- In an emergency, our heroes are front-line workers, people who have been earning too little for too long.
- Women, in particular, perform vital tasks and have been underpaid and undervalued for too long.
- The globalization of everything allowed the virus to spread.
- The globalization of supply chains made it harder to access what we need.
- What we thought was normal and acceptable is no longer acceptable – a world of deep inequality and unacceptable levels of pollution.
- Billions of people around the world can all respond to share a collective responsibility.
- Governments around the world can decide that life is more important than money.
These are the big lessons, but in every country and every sector within each country lessons are different.
For Greens, much of what we have been calling for years is now becoming mainstream:
- The need for a Guaranteed Livable Income
- More local economic activity
- Local food security
- More teleworking and less commuting
- More universality in health care and universal pharmacare
- A huge shift to renewable energy
As our society reopens there is a strong call not to “bounce back” but to bounce forward. We can start by identifying things that, in spite of the tragedy and horror of this pandemic, suggest a new way ahead.
These are the things to hang onto:
- Clearer skies and purer air
- Cleaner waterways
- Less congested roads
- City streets turned over to people and bicycles
- Respect for seniors by providing care that suits their needs.