What’s Actually Our Biggest Problem?
As the pandemic has progressed, other problems have begun to reverberate across our great country. Fixing them will require us to show the same resolve we’ve shown in the face of COVID-19
By Wayne Prins, Executive Director
Years ago, I had a car that I loved. It was a great car, but it was a bit old, and, if I’m honest with myself, its primary operator wasn’t always so gentle on it.
For years, it got me to where I wanted to go with relative comfort and reliability. Then one day it developed a vibration that got progressively worse to the point that I knew something was seriously wrong.
It was this vibration that caused me to bring it to the mechanic. But once the mechanic got to work, it quickly became clear the vibration was the least of my worries. Much greater problems that I previously wasn’t aware of or paid little attention to were found. Turned out the car was barely road worthy, and my best option was to bite the bullet and buy a new one.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but doesn’t this feel a bit like our current state of affairs in Canada? Rewind six months and I think there was generally a collective awareness that while things weren’t perfect, we were still cruising along.
Then this major vibration called COVID-19 emerged, and we had to park the entire country at the mechanic shop. While under repair (and this isn’t a quick fix—the replacement parts are still being developed . . .), a range of other previously ignored or neglected issues have come to the surface. Economic inequality, racial discrimination, inadequate care for our elders, corruption in our governments, unmanageable debt. The list goes on.
Is this country even road worthy? I’ll park the analogy there and turn more seriously to the issues at hand.
Clearly, the pandemic remains the most urgent challenge on our hands. This is true here in Canada, and it’s even truer throughout much of the world where infection rates and death rates are exponentially worse than ours.
I am incredibly proud and grateful for the resilience and work of our membership and staff through this time. Tired front-line workers continue to care for the sick and vulnerable with courage and determination. Other essential workers continue to maintain supply chains and move the economy forward the best they can under the circumstances.
Meanwhile, CLAC staff continue to serve you, our members, to our high standards of service. Some of our member centres in western Canada have reopened thanks to extensive efforts to equip our spaces with the necessary precautions and modifications to keep you, guests, and staff healthy and safe. We remain committed to opening the rest of our member centres as soon as we are permitted and can safely do so.
These are all good things, and, as has been said over and over, we will get through this together.
But to my earlier point, the long list of other challenges remains. And even before we are finished our fight against COVID-19, these other challenges warrant our time and attention.
• What will we do to address economic inequality and racial discrimination in our country?
• How will we guarantee our elders receive the dignified care they deserve?
• How will we hold our leaders accountable for their actions, even in the midst of a pandemic?
• How will we help our governments and individuals manage their precarious finances to avoid even greater future hardship?
These (and more) are the challenges of our generation. To prevail over all of them will require the same tireless resolve that Canadians have shown throughout our collective response to COVID-19.
Do we have the energy for that? Let’s hope so!
My rhetorical question of whether this country is even road worthy doesn’t need an answer, but I want to be clear about where I stand on this. Notwithstanding all the challenges we face, we still live in the greatest country on earth.
There is so much to love about Canada, and there are so many reasons for optimism for the future. Sure, there is a long list of challenges to work through. But there’s an even longer list of reasons why it will be worth it.