Despite being amid a global pandemic, many people appear to be more concerned with facing a huge financial blow than being affected by the disease.
Earlier this week, government officials worldwide urged people to avoid large gatherings and self-quarantine, unless they absolutely must be out, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Premier François Legault called for all spaces with a capacity exceeding 250 people to be temporarily shut down until further notice. As a result, all schools, venues, libraries, gyms, public pools and leisure spots such as bars will be temporarily closed for the next few weeks.
In a matter of days, people have witnessed the cancellation of all major events such as Austin’s international festival South By Southwest (SXSW) and all concert tours this season. The NBA and NHL have also postponed their seasons. These measures are leaving many venue staff, technicians and even public relations agents jobless, according to people who work in the industry.
The film industry is equally suffering and is expected to lose billions in revenue as major studios begin postponing the production of major projects such as The Batman and “Stranger Things.” Over the weekend, many companies, including Apple, Lululemon, Urban Outfitters and Lush, have made statements regarding their decision to close their shops until further notice, while compensating their employees, as a measure of ensuring safety. Nevertheless, local independent businesses, startups and establishments that simply do not have the funds for paid leaves are currently finding themselves in a predicament. As reported by CNN, closing their doors would only lead to potential layoffs, which would add to the panic and distress that they are already facing as the number of COVID-19 cases rises.
Although these measures are crucial to prioritize people’s health during these difficult times, how can citizens assure themselves that their financial worries will be taken care of while they are out of work?
The Canadian stock market has been falling at a slow rate over the past three months until the end of February. In fact, it hit a low on March 12, in the wake of officials addressing the pandemic. In a recent statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe.”
Nevertheless, the livelihoods of Canadians remain on the line as many questions are left unanswered. Even though Trudeau’s words seem promising, he has yet to disclose how he will tackle all of these concerns. As Canadians waited for his latest press conference for an update on how the government will intervene in this situation, Trudeau announced that the Canadian borders will be closed to most foreign visitors but has yet to present us with how he will ensure that the needs of Canadians will be taken care of during this time of crisis.
Graphic by Victoria Blair