It was a common refrain in the early days of the pandemic: “We’re all in this together.” But, even before the first case of COVID-19 was declared in Ottawa, we realized the pandemic would strain the social fabric of our communities and amplify the challenges people were already facing.
Issues such as poverty, homelessness, social isolation and mental health are not new but the pandemic has made them significantly worse. Injustices facing Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, people with disabilities, newcomers and women have been exacerbated: racialized populations are over-represented among those diagnosed with COVID-19; women have seen more significant job loss than men; rural and low-income people have been cut off from online services due to technology inequities … the list goes on.
COVID-19 brought the fault lines of our communities into focus and provoked an urgency to take them on. But it will take courage and commitment to continue tackling these systemic challenges. We will inevitably move into a recovery phase, and we must take the lessons of the pandemic with us to build a more equitable future.
By Michael Allen
President and CEO
United Way East Ontario