Reflections on COVID-19 1 Year Later
Today marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. In that time, people and governments across the globe have been tested and pushed to the limit. Worldwide, humanity has persevered and adapted to slow the spread of the disease, develop vaccines and treatments, and build back better. Looking back at this tumultuous year, we want to touch on some of the lessons learned.
Over this last year, the inadequacies of our social supports have been laid bare. While the pandemic has put unprecedented strain on these systems, it is also true many of us have seen just how vulnerable we are to circumstance.
The CERB and CRB from the federal Liberal government prevented an economic and social disaster. They showed us the importance of readily available direct income transfer in combating poverty. The Alberta Liberals are proud to have called for a temporary Universal Basic Income to fight this emergency. While the immediate crisis may be coming to an end, there will never be an end to individual challenges, and it is clear that the time to consider a permanent UBI has come.
Importance of our Federal Government
At a time of unprecedented uncertainty, our federal government has shown what Alberta Liberals have said all along: we are stronger as Canadians. Alberta could not have weathered this storm without the assistance and leadership of our federal government. While the response was not perfect, programs like CERB and the financial aid provided to provinces have helped Alberta and Canada navigate the past year. We are strongest when we are united.
Essential Workers and Healthcare
We all owe a debt of gratitude to essential workers and healthcare professionals. We must continue to invest in public healthcare, and we must do more to address the economic inequality many essential workers face. You stepped up for us. We will step up for you.
Mental Health and the Echo Pandemic
We all have experienced some detrimental effect on our mental health. The fear, uncertainty and isolation have been and still are daunting. The pandemic’s long-term impact on mental health will haunt us long after the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Alberta Liberals called for, and continue to call for, a task force to prepare Alberta for this echo pandemic. We need a dramatic increase in mental health and addictions fundings. The system was overburdened and underfunded before this crisis. It will be pushed past the brink by it. It is time to end the lip service to mental health and take real action.
Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from COVID-19 is how resilient and resourceful people are. We must continue to use science, knowledge and human creativity to fight climate change, systemic racism, poverty and economic uncertainty. As we continue to overcome COVID-19, we can transition from a time of crisis to a time of change. We can build back our economy with investments in education and clean energy. We can find new ways to address social ills. We can restore the balance between our economy and our environment without sacrificing one for the other. We must Build Back Better.
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