The Institute’s Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Andrew-Amofah interviewed former Deputy Minister of Ontario & Manitoba Michael Mendelson on Canada's housing crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what housing solutions should be considered as Canada moves towards a recovery. Michael Mendelson is currently a Maytree Fellow.
Today, four out of five Canadians who have died from COVID-19 in Canada are linked to long-term care homes. The first death from COVID-19 in Canada was an elderly resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in British Columbia. It marked the first of dozens of outbreaks in long-term care homes in Canada that have taken thousands of Canadian lives.
These are just a few of the names of Filipino nurses, personal support workers, and caregivers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, who have died after providing frontline support to clients and patients with COVID-19 in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and private residences. The need to fill in job vacancies for health care personnel in migrant-receiving countries like Canada, and the existence of a labour brokerage policy that make the ‘export’ of labour and transfer of payment to home countries a vital part of migrant-sending countries’ [like the Philippines] economic growth strategy, compel thousands of Filipinos to seek jobs as migrant workers. Because many Filipino migrant workers go abroad to become care workers, the Philippines has effectively created what author and historian Catherine Ceniza Choy describes as an “Empire of Care”.
Media reports say climate change mitigation will play a prominent role in the COVID-19 economic recovery, with the federal government planning to invest in the environment as part of its stimulus spending. Stimulus is a concept associated with John Maynard Keynes, calling for public spending to kick-start the economy. Stimulus was used after the 2008 global financial crisis, but was quickly removed, and the global economy never fully recovered.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restrictions have been placed on fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In response, serious warnings have rightfully emerged regarding the necessity of safeguarding these freedoms and ensuring that they are restored when the pandemic – and the resulting medical emergency – abates. One must hope that we will be vigilant in preserving the individual rights and freedoms safeguarded by the Canadian Charter, called “first generation” rights, such as the freedom of association. However, we could also consider that this historic moment may provide an opportunity to advance what are often termed “second generation” rights, or economic and social rights.
In the early 1960’s, a CCF government (the CCF was the precursor to the NDP) in Saskatchewan successfully lit the path towards what we now know nationally as Medicare, a transformative event in Canadian history. This was done in the face of fierce and often bitter resistance from political opponents, from the medical community and from private insurance companies. Canadians would do well to recall this history, and how elements of it might inform the current debate about the urgent need for a universal single-payer (i.e. public) Pharmacare program, a long overdue supplement to the existing health care system that would realize the dreams of many of Medicare’s founders.
One of the by-products of the global COVID 19 pandemic is that all of a sudden people are paying attention to where things are actually manufactured. On Monday morning April 13, the lead headline on the CBC website was “Canada building its own PPE supply chain…in China”. As the Toronto Star noted in its April 7, Editorial – “Canada Needs a New Industrial Policy”, when Canada is left scrambling for medical equipment, relying on goods that are manufactured halfway around the world “doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore”.
In a medical sense, COVID-19, as highly contagious as it is, can be thought of as the great leveller. No one has immunity, and we face the health risk of this virus with a sense of our common humanity.
On March 31st, Phase 2 of Ontario’s “Learn at Home” program was announced in response to COVID-19 school closures. The announcement has resulted in inconsistency in communication to parents and to teachers, who are tasked with supporting two million students with a diverse range of learning needs and inconsistent access to resources and support at home.