I’ve heard a lot of people saying, “we’re all in this together.”
And it’s true.
None of us is untouched by what’s happening across the country and around the world, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. We’re all worried about the health and safety of our loved ones, our co-workers, and the people in our communities. And from the NOW family to yours, we hope you are safe and healthy, wherever you are.
When people say we’re all in this together, it gives me hope. Because that sense of solidarity is exactly what we need to get through this crisis.
People are recognizing that we all count on frontline workers. From health care workers to grocery store clerks, cleaners to child care workers and so many more, working people are the heroes of this crisis. Many of our economy’s lowest-paid and hardest-working people are being seen and acknowledged, for the first time. It’s been a long time coming (just ask anyone who’s campaigned for a $15 minimum wage in recent years). Let’s carry that forward.
People are recognizing, in a deeper and clearer way, that the most essential things in life can’t be done alone, even at the best of times. That’s why we need universal public health care, great public schools, and strong public services in general. And now, more than ever, people see the importance of the services we’ve built together – and how cuts make it harder to respond to a crisis. Let’s remember to keep building and improving them so they’re always there when we need them.
People are also recognizing governments do have the capacity to help people. Public policy ideas – like boosting wages for workers, supporting the unemployed, and helping prevent homelessness when families are on the brink – were written off as impossible by too many people just weeks ago. Now, they are not only possible; they are necessary and urgent. The lesson is that governments can – and should – play a positive role in people’s lives. Let’s never let the politicians forget that.
And, now more than ever, people are recognizing that we all count on each other. Not just to respect public health directives, but to help everyone get through this. Whether it’s offering help to a neighbour, or cheering for health care workers from our front lawns and balconies, people have a desire to show that we’re in it together. It’s amazing to witness.
At a time when so many question marks are hanging over people’s livelihoods, that’s exactly what we need to do: show our solidarity. Because it’s our solidarity that will get us through this crisis, together.
But I also worry.
Will every frontline worker get the proper protections to keep them safe? We all need to use whatever power we have to ensure that workers receive decent wages, protective equipment, and paid sick leave – now.
Will every government in Canada provide the supports that working people urgently need? We all need to speak up to ensure that support for working people is delivered fast and frequently throughout this crisis.
Will COVID-19 be used as an excuse by governments to cut workers’ protections and ignore collective agreements? We need to organize to stop any government from using this crisis as a pretext to rip up the rights that workers have fought for, earned, and won.
And will our opponents argue that we need more private sector solutions to keep up with demand? That’s the wrong answer. Instead of cutting or privatizing, we need to invest in strong public services so they are always there when we need them most – no matter who we are, how much we earn or where we live.
So while we all do our part to practice physical distancing, let’s not isolate ourselves from the needs of our communities and the people around us.
Now more than ever, we need to be there for each other. To keep our voices raised. And to not shut up, even though we’re shut in.
Because, after all, it’s true. We’re all in this together.