They say that if you’ve eaten today, “thank a farmer.”
Truer words were never spoken, but the current response by governments and health authorities to the spread of the COVID-19 virus show there is a lot of more thanks that needs to go round.
An in exhaustive list includes not only ag producers and farm workers, but also truck drivers, production workers, truck drivers again, all manner of wholesale and retail workers and managers.
Supporting them is a spider web of other inputs, fuel, and other industries that keep Canadians safely fed. That goes the same for the array of sectors in the economy.
Not to belabour the point, but modern society is based on interaction not only to fulfill our social needs and community goals. The basic operation of the economy which not only provides us not the ability to earn money to buy what we wish, but supplies the basic needs that we all need.
It’s also said that an injury to one is an injury to all, and the nature of the health crisis, and its knock-on economic effects from social distancing are easy to think of, but perhaps not obvious until now.
There’s hardly a single person on the globe today who hasn’t worried at some point this week about economic fallout of borders closing, consumers staying home, the potential for supply chain disruptions and the lasting effects on businesses big and small.
Of course there are major macro-economic issues to play out, and extreme health and demographic scenarios.
Anyone who thinks that a one per cent mortality rate is low should consider that one per cent of the Canadian population is 400,000 people. It’s perhaps crass but no less true that such a loss would create not a ripple but heavy waves in the Canadian economy.
Beyond the health actions earlier this month, Ottawa announced a raft of measures aimed at stabilizing business confidence and the finances of those caught up in levels of isolation, hurt by layoff or struggling to provide care to others. The total is more that $50 billion, and officials promise more announcements are coming.
That addresses the harsh slow down of the economy, but long-term discussion by academics, business leaders and politicians must include efforts to strengthen the economy from a bottom-up position.
The same applies to individuals and consumers who’ve been happy to stretch their challenged resources by their shopping online rather than support business that operate locally.
Business owners and their workers will be hurt by the Corona response, and that effect will ripple in the community.
The idea of people falling behind on rent hurts not only landlords, but other merchants. Unpaid utility bills hamper the city finances and corporation, of which all tax payers are a shareholder.
Similarly, a run on grocery stores strains supply chains, and leaves more reasonable shoppers – those playing by the rules – at a disadvantage for having manners.
It also lays bare exactly how inexact and tenuous the economy has become.
Sure, a pandemic is an extraordinary example, but each one of the low-wage, temporary, freelance, “gig worker” or self-employed contract who are exposed to financial difficulty this month, was in a tenuous position last year.
They may not have faced a pandemic, but recession and unstable income are always at the door.
The people and professions listed at the top of this editorial are also somebody’s renter, customer, or provider.
In another, more human sense, they are also somebody’s mom, husband, or child.
We all have a part to play and all need to play our part.