Like many of you, I’m at home in self-isolation. My house is comfortable and my garden is coming to life through my window so it’s not so bad. All things considered, I’m pretty fortunate. But many others are having a very difficult time.
The COVID-19 crisis is already having a devastating impact on the health of many of our fellow citizens, and the family finances of millions of Canadians have taken a body blow.
There’s no doubt this is a tough time. One of the toughest that I can remember in my 84 years.
But we as Canadians have the values, the drive, and the public institutions to cope and to recover. It starts with our shared belief that we have a duty to take care of each other.
This “duty to each other” is the bedrock of the social democratic values I have stood for all of my life. The values that gave birth to Medicare, Employment Insurance, public education – in fact all the public programmes that are working for us and that are so critical right now.
Often, in our history, it’s been moments of collective difficulty like the Great Depression that gave birth to new thinking, new approaches, and a renewed focus on taking care of each other.
This crisis shows us that a strong and effective social safety net is the right choice now and in the future. Some holes in that net are quickly coming to light that we need to close in the weeks and months ahead. For instance, if our Medicare system already included universal Pharmacare many people would be having an easier time right now.
I want to thank those who give us the things we need every day, especially healthcare workers. And also those others on the front line – like cashiers and public transit workers – who are servicing the critical spaces we still share.
Over the course of this crisis and beyond, you can count on the Broadbent Institute to fight like never before for fair treatment for all Canadians. We are determined that Canadians most in need get the help they deserve and that those with power are held to account.
I hope you and your families are well. We’re all in this together. And together we’re going to prevail. My very best wishes to you at this time.