Editorials - June 10, 2021
Taking a hand
The global pandemic that has sent the country into repeated lockdowns has caused many businesses to teeter on the edge of survival. Both the federal and provincial governments have initiated various measures for many to try to stave off bankruptcy and permanent closure. In fact, Air Canada negotiated a $5.9 billion bailout in April to ensure the company would be able to continue operations. This was in addition to $656 million that it received in federal wage subsidies in 2020.
No one would claim that the airline did not suffer catastrophic losses because of the pandemic, nor that a federal government bailout was not necessary to ensure its survival, but last week it was revealed in its annual proxy circular to shareholders that $10 million in bonuses were paid to employees. After a public hue and cry, Air Canada released an announcement that its senior executives would repay their bonuses to try to mitigate the damage to their image due to “public disappointment”.
For the thousands of small businesses experiencing the same level of devastation to their revenues, but don’t have the clout to negotiate a bailout, it is disheartening to watch this play out. For many companies who carefully balance wage subsidies and any other funding, there is barely enough to keep their payroll going. Taxpayers can be convinced of the need to provide funds to keep businesses afloat, but funding any bonuses during such a time is a little tough to swallow. – DS
A nation mourns
For most Canadians alive today, the very concept of a mass grave is nearly impossible to comprehend. That people could be viewed as so disposable that they didn’t even warrant individual grave markers is incongruous with how the majority of us view the world. And yet, another chapter of Canada’s national shame is being written with the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which operated between 1890 and 1978. Now, there are calls to use ground-penetrating radar to probe other residential school sites and many fear what they will find.
This discovery came just days before the second anniversary of the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and at a time when many First Nations communities are still without clean drinking water. The Kamloops discovery represents a horrific chapter of history, and yet the country still has a long way to go to achieve modern-day equality and, what we so often hear from the federal government, truth and reconciliation.
This may very well be just the first of many discoveries that confirm what we’ve been told about the residential school system and what it did to First Nations communities. Some estimate that the system took over 6,000 lives, while irreversibly damaging so very many more.
Most of us will never understand the effect the residential schools had on First Nations communities, from loss of language and culture to tearing families apart and loss of life, but things can change moving forward. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly help shape the future for all Canadians and acknowledgment of the extent of the horror inflicted at these schools is a crucial step forward. – SL
The arrival of hope
As part of the easing of restrictions in Ontario, long-term care residents will finally, after months of isolation, be able to go out into the world, have visitors and even have “brief” hugs.
The announcement followed the expiration of the provincial lockdown last week. This week, fully-immunized residents of long-term care facilities can now leave their homes for day-long or overnight outings, thanks in part to the high level of vaccination in the long-term care sector. Residents who can’t leave home due to mobility or health concerns, and can’t go outside either, will be allowed to have one visitor indoors alongside their essential caregiver. The government has also approved “brief” hugs for residents regardless of their vaccination status.
Many long-term care residents haven’t been able to see friends or family, except through glass, for the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some areas were able to have visitors in the late spring and early summer of last year, but since then, due to the COVID-19 situation, and its associated variants, there hasn’t been much time for residents to see anyone outside of their homes.
The move may seem like a gamble, given the alarming reports of how many long-term care sites remain in outbreaks and other alarming reports about low uptake on vaccination among long-term care employees. However, it’s a necessary gamble, according to some, as the isolation that has accompanied the pandemic is a significant health concern, though not as much as COVID-19 and its variants.
These kinds of milestones will become more important in getting back to normal. Provided everyone who can gets fully vaccinated as soon as possible, more control measures will be removed and the province and the country will get back to pre-COVID-19 reality. – JDS