LETTER: Considering the pandemic’s consequences

From reader Cathy Scott-May

So much work to do and so little vision to do it with.

The pandemic is exposing deep rooted vulnerabilities and contradictions and should inspire thoughtful dialogue on our future options. Instead we are recycling responses that defy logic. The pandemic-caused recession has been particularly challenging for parents, partly because as schools and daycares shut, many were forced out of the workforce.

Governments are responding by promising subsidized daycare and reopening schools. The pandemic, however, has shown the risks of building our lives around the assumption that we can depend on institutions to care for our children and elders. Subsidized daycare and public schools allow for a large, cheap labour pool to serve an economy based on consumption and growth.

When the people selling us the goods and services need subsidized daycare and public schools to afford to work, then we are not paying the true costs of our purchases. Subsidies, whether to large industries through tax breaks or to all businesses and organizations through low-cost daycare, can create false realities that become normal.

This prevents us from imagining and working towards a different path forward. The pandemic is challenging us to have difficult conversations that are needed to develop sophisticated responses. Accessible daycare and reopening public schools are part of the needed response, but not a full solution.

The dialogue must transcend political ideologies as all perspectives are needed to reconsider the responsibilities of, and opportunities for, individuals, families, communities, and institutions to design an effective response to our challenges. Our children and elders deserve a more honest discussion about their needs and the extent to which we are prepared to create families and a society that value them.

Cathy Scott-May