Your take on #BetterThanNormal, or life after Covid-19
What you told us about how to make sure our country and economy work for everyone going forward.

A few weeks back, we asked people to share their ideas on how we can recover from Covid-19 in ways that make sure our country and economy work for everyone going forward.

Hundreds of responses rolled in over the first 24 hours and haven’t stopped since then. As our communities move into a new phase of managing the pandemic, these ideas are more important than ever.

Protecting public health is obviously on the top of everyone’s minds. We also heard how the impacts of the pandemic go way beyond it. Housing affordability, food security, climate change, unemployment, mental health, the economy and access to child care are all seen as major issues to be tackled as Canada figures out life after Covid-19.

Hundreds of people shared powerful ideas about how to move forward across all of these issues. Here’s some of what we heard:

Too many people are living on the edge

Contract, gig and low-income workers, the unemployed, renters, students, young families...the list of people whose economic vulnerabilities were laid bare by Covid-19 is long. Low or precarious pay, the high cost of living, unmanageable debt and minimal savings are the buffet of conditions under which large numbers of people are struggling to survive.

In this context, solutions like a universal basic or guaranteed income, living wages, paid sick leave and better access to benefits are all top-of-mind. We also heard your call for measures to limit individual debt and close the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us.

What you said we need:

“[A situation] where mass amounts of people aren't living paycheck to paycheck so that when a crisis or emergency strikes, it isn't an overnight disaster.”

Housing (un)affordability made the impacts of Covid-19 worse

Nearly just as many people have concerns about the cost of housing as they do public health coming out of this first phase of Covid-19. When people are spending up to half (or more) of their income on housing, and have a month or less of savings in the bank, losing that income is a crisis by itself.

We heard the call for more, diverse housing options – whether you rent or own – that match up with incomes, so people can safely and reliably cover the cost of housing and keep a roof over their heads.

What you said we need:

“Focus on ways to reduce debt burden on young people so they aren't left in crisis during an event like a pandemic and unable to pay rents let alone ever be able to afford a house.”

Climate change is an equal threat, and an opportunity

Whether it’s because green jobs are seen as better jobs, or because we want to use our response to Covid-19 to prevent a similar economic and health crisis caused by climate change, most agree that Canada can and should use it’s recovery efforts to advance our climate goals.

Some people are calling for a Green New Deal, while others want to make sure that new investments in infrastructure, transit and housing help reduce our carbon footprint.

What you said we need:

“I hope that the government creates a Green New Deal to stimulate the economy once the lockdowns end. This would help those who have lost their jobs find new employment, and it would also help ameliorate the impacts of climate change, which will be a greater crisis than coronavirus, if left unchecked.”

Childcare is key to economic recovery

Having kids at home has shown us just how critical equal, affordable access to childcare is for working parents. This matters to individual families, and it matters to our economy. We heard your calls for investing in universal childcare as a way to stimulate our economy going forward. And a commitment to better pay for those who provide it.

 

A new culture of wellness and community

Rest. Self-care. Time with family. Cooking more. Looking out for neighbours. Supporting local businesses. These were just a few of the unexpected benefits of being stuck at home or forced out of work. And while the pandemic was a super stressful time for all of us, it also highlighted how little time we had for these things pre-Covid.

This is prompting calls to uphold this newfound “space” in a range of ways: flexible or reduced work hours, investing in small to medium sized businesses, designing cities around strong, local neighbourhoods, and more. All in the name of better physical and mental health, strengthening relationships and building resilience.

What you said we need:

“I actually am far less stressed at the thought of dying from an illness or starving than I was by the overwhelming workload and constant sense of failure and overload I had when it was "normal". I don’t want to lose how important it is to keep the things we’ve learned - that we need NEED more free time in our lives to make bread and play with pets and have one on one time with our families.”

These insights and ideas are huge and important. Some of them underscore Gen Squeeze’s longstanding work to get governments to address the ways younger people in particular are being held down by a broken system. Our focus on housing affordability, for example, has never felt more urgent. In other cases, we’re still absorbing what this brave new world looks like and how we get there.

One thing for sure is that we’re super glad to be on this journey with others. A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to share their views on what #BetterThanNormal could look like for Canada.

What you said we need:

“Questioning of the status quo and what 'normal' we want to create instead of defaulting back to the previous state. Our current systems are not working for way too many people and we have the choice to change.”

Haven’t had a chance to offer your own thoughts yet? You can be part of the conversation by answering these four questions. Check out the survey.

Sutton Eaves
About
Sutton is the Co-Executive Director of Gen Squeeze. She works to build the Gen Squeeze base, tell stories about our issues and impact, and secure resources to keep up the hustle.
Your take on #BetterThanNormal, or life after Covid-19
Your take on #BetterThanNormal, or life after Covid-19
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