During COVID-19, we have been fortunate to see an outpouring of support from donors and volunteers as well as support from the wider sector in community and government. Now, as we reopen the economy, this social solidarity and problem-solving must carry forward to be at the core of our recovery. Our reliance on essential workers must not only be celebrated but properly recognized in the rebuilding of a stronger, more resilient Canada.
As the first steps toward recovery are taken, risks will continue to be disproportionately felt—and sacrifices made—by our essential workers and most vulnerable populations. COVID-19 has followed patterns of inequality that were already deeply ingrained within our communities and institutions.
Our 2019 Who’s Hungry report demonstrated that racialized communities were over-represented among respondents, as were immigrants and people with disabilities. Many of these disabilities leave clients more vulnerable to COVID-19. With a median income of about $800 per month, it can be difficult for food bank clients to stay home, putting them at greater risk of infection.
While emergency responses like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), eviction freezes, and utilities deferrals have helped to prevent further economic fallout, vulnerability remains high. We must extend these emergency responses well into the recovery, both to protect Canadians from new outbreaks and to ease them into a fully reactivated workforce.
With emergency protections in place, now is the time to fix the cracks in our system and invest in the needs of everyday Canadians. An economic recovery centred on income security, housing, and public services will create a wider economic base and more resilient communities.
This is Canada’s opportunity to rally around all our essential and frontline workers, and to recognize the sacrifices disproportionately borne by our marginalized communities.
The moment demands it: across the country, people have stepped up to help their families, their neighbours, and their wider communities. Let’s harness this social solidarity and build for a future we all believe in.
To see our full recommendations urging federal leadership during the economic recovery, click here.