• aileenburke83

How COVID Highlights Inequality

There's no question that COVID-19 has impacted us all; from businesses, community organizations, and individuals, we've all experienced COVID differently.


The pandemic has highlighted ways in which our society is grossly unequal. Environics Analytics has put in some time to research where Canada's vulnerabilities lie (full article can be found here: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/environics-analytics-understanding-who-is-financially-and-socially-vulnerable-during-covid-19-1.4948064) and have broken this down into two categories: financial risk and social risk. Those who were at the highest financial risk were young, urban renters; middle-age families; First Nations, Inuit, & Metis families; and older small-town single and couples. The socially at risk were broken down as follows: young single urbanites; newcomers; and aging city-dwellers. And this is just a simple, broad breakdown.


When we look at the pandemic responses across the world, we're also presented with the difficult reality that under-developed nations face. This can be seen in areas where they do not have water (some of Canada's Indigenous reserves fall into this category) or where they do not have the space to physically distance (those in prison; highly populated countries/cities). As Mariano Aguirre, from Open Democracy (see: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/impact-covid-19-all-down-inequality/) states: "Coronavirus is highlighting the profound inequality that exists in our global society." We see this in the various healthcare system capacities, or lack there of; immigration laws and processes; those who are seeking to flee abuse; and the differences in employee rights and protections. Indeed, in some places, such as India, those who work temporary jobs, are caught in a dilemma: starvation due to lack of finances or risk catching the virus.


Transportation is also an important consideration. In the same article reference above, it is stated that about 47% of the world has no access to formal or informal public transport.


All of this added to an increasingly more polarized world, where racism and discrimination continues to rise, especially in the wake of COVID-19.


Racism has been highlighted during this pandemic. One CNN news host, on May 28th, had this powerful statement to say: "There are two major crises in this country tonight, two deadly viruses killing Americans: COVID-19 and Racism - 20. Now we all know that racism is not news this year, but the latest racially-charged incident is from just last night." (Don Lemon, speaking of the death of George Floyd, https://megaphone.upworthy.com/p/don-lemon-two-viruses-killing-americans?fbclid=IwAR0H58L-Mlykb0h4lgIyFXcd1rx3yLpu78sk0OMF21a412chgfzKmQu6sL4).


Racism has also been demonstrated by powerful world leaders. This has been seen in President Trump's insistence that the Coronavirus bee called the "Chinese Virus", when the surgeon general specifically targeted communities of colour to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, and the increase in discrimination that Asian Americans and Asian Canadians face (https://theconversation.com/5-lessons-from-the-coronavirus-about-inequality-in-america-136024).


Finally, a bright spotlight has been placed on what we consider "essential". Most of our essential workers today are some of the lowest-paid persons. Not only has this highlighted the disparity in wages, but it has also highlighted the fact that the developed world is largely service-based; we've also seen a lot of those in lock-down turn to the arts for entertainment and solace. So, why are the services that we seemingly need most the most underfunded?


The Coronavirus offers us as a global community an opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities, how we want the economy to be structured, how we want to treat people, and how best we can address issues such as racism, discrimination, and income inequality. Lets make the most of this opportunity.



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