Vol. 52, No. 2 - Fall 2022

Vol. 52, No. 2 - Fall 2022

Everyone in Canada needs to make sure that we all learn the lessons from COVID – and act on them, says 101-year-old former Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion.

“We are not going ‘back to normal’,” she told members and guests at the Association of Ontario Land Economists’ 2022 Annual General Meeting. “The previous systems didn’t work. We all need to take action now, so we will be ready for the next one. It will come.”

The problems were known

It’s not like people didn’t already know about the long-standing problems in longterm care, hospitals and healthcare.

Even before the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003, building and staffing capacity had been an issue for years. SARS added calls for swift responses and new emergency preparedness measures.

But, when COVID 19 struck 17 years later, the capacity problems were as bad or worse. And emergency preparedness? Fortunately, we had taken the advice to create national and provincial Public Health Agencies … but “we had to rely on imports from China to get the supplies we needed,” McCallion said.

COVID impacts are widespread

SARS was mostly contained to Toronto hospitals, killed 44 people, and had ended within months – but the economic impacts lasted for two years.

This pandemic has already lasted more than two years, killed more than 40,000 people across Canada, and resulted in country-wide lockdowns with still undetermined impacts on the population and the economy.

That includes mental health. The pandemic brought human separation, losses, school disruptions, viral and economic threats, and a lot of stress. “I don’t know of any group of medical professionals that has been asked to assess the impacts on mental health across our society yet,” McCallion said.

Responses must be widespread too

“Every family, organization and level of government has been affected by the pandemic,” she pointed out. “We all need to find out what happened, what shouldn’t have happened and what needs to be done in the future.”

“We can’t just leave it up to governments,” McCallion warned. “The general public and organizations in each community should get involved.”

“We all need to consider everything that can be done to prepare us … and put pressure on governments to take action, so we won’t have to be in a crisis situation when the next one comes along.”

“Young people need to be present too, to decide the sort of future they want to have in each municipality.”

“Each and every one of us has the opportunity to shape the future.”