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Long-term social distancing & the fed’s inadequate 10 percent wage subsidy

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Leslie Campbell

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March 21

FIRST I LEARN A DEAR WINNIPEG FRIEND HAS DIED, though not of coronavirus. A celebration of his life will be held…but who knows when?

A long telephone chat with one of my two Vancouver-based sisters helps bolster my spirits. Conveniently for times like these, Karen is a bookworm, and has five books on the go, though she too is distracted by all the news updates and media analysis of the pandemic.

Then I read the Globe and Mail about the modelling on social distancing (by Simon Fraser University professors—see link below). Even with the strong distancing—which I believe is what we now have—up to 50 percent of Canadians may be infected. And it won’t peak till Septemberish. And we shouldn’t end the distancing measures till the peak of the pandemic is over, say October (assuming there’s not a second wave). The only way to reduce it more is to embrace even harsher measures than we have now, “reducing all contacts outside of the household by more than 90 percent.” Still there are no guarantees especially given our lack of immunity and the risk of it being introduced from elsewhere.

Even without those “harsher” measures, it could mean the type of serious social distancing we have now for 6-7 months! This is indeed like nothing humans have ever experienced before. How will so many laid-off workers survive?

A hike on the mossy bluffs behind our homestead helps console us. Down on the beach we watch surf scoters and swans.

 

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Surf scoters

 

A Suzuki Foundation article “Idle Some More: A Novel Climate Solution,” references one of my favourite philosophers, Bertrand Russell. It states, “Russell advocated for a gradual reduction in paid labour to four hours a day. This, he argued, would facilitate full employment, provide more time for creative pursuits and contribute to the public good. ’In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving,’ he wrote.”

Of course, we might need a guaranteed basic income, as well. Another bold idea worth considering in this time of dramatic change. The federal government’s plan to subsidize wages to the tune of 10 percent is not going to help the situation much given the deep plunge in revenues many businesses are experiencing.

I welcome your response, either as a comment below or privately through the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of this page.


 

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