Before COVID-19 struck, everyone had a wish-list of things they wished would happen. While some optimists were prepared to wait years, pessimists simply called their list wishful thinking. Today, both the optimist and the pessimist have many of their wishes granted thanks to COVID-19.
Let’s start with the Ontario school teachers who went on strike to achieve one of their stated goals of ensuring smaller class sizes. You might remember not-so-long-ago that the Ontario government wanted to increase class size from an average of 22 to 28. Now however, social distancing rules may mean even smaller class sizes like 15 students. Even the current 22 students sounds too big for comfort. Premier Ford will himself be pushing for smaller class sizes come September.
Ontario teachers were fighting tooth and nail against e-learning after learning that the government wanted students to enroll in two online courses in order to get their diploma. That they insisted would be unfair to disadvantaged students who need face-to-face class interaction. Guess what now, all students have been equally impacted. COVID-19 has kind of made it imperative for school boards across Canada and the world to create e-learning modules given that this virus could be with us for years to come. I am willing to bet that there is little resistance to e-learning and it would be a very foolish union who has a problem with it.
In the next academic year, it is likely that students with underlying health issues may be forced to take all or some of their courses online. During flu season, it would not be a bad idea for kids forced to be home with the sniffles to have the option to either log-in and attend their class remotely or catch up with it when they feel better. If all classes were offered either live or recorded, no student would be disadvantaged if they are forced by circumstances to miss in-person class.
Either way, e-learning, the medium unions fiercely resisted is here to stay. Premier Ford can claim victory by default.
Prior to COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the economy and housing, prices were upward bound, brokers were still convincing potential customers and investors to make those purchases because it was a win-win situation. Prices they insisted defied the laws of gravity and economics. Now however, all bets are off and real estate prices are dropping quite significantly and will continue to do so in the months to come. Housing experts predict, somewhat realistically, that the market will be unstable for at least the next three years. The good news is that those who could not afford to buy homes earlier now have a good chance of finding one at the right price. The bad news is that many of these potential buyers have either lost their jobs or are afraid of making such a large investment given that few jobs are guaranteed for the long haul.
At the beginning of this year, teen environmental activist/celebrity Greta Thunberg visited Canada and was railing against the oilsands and other polluters.
Last October, 15 children and teens sued the federal government claiming that federal officials were violating their rights to life by willfully ignoring pollution and doing nothing about it. It is unlikely if that is their pressing concern anymore now that pollution on the planet is way down along with wages. Many of these teens have more pressing concerns like the future of their own education and jobs. While some die-hard environmentalists may be happy with the clean air, they must also worry about their rapidly cleaned out bank accounts.
Millions of Canadians have either lost their jobs or are working from home. While initially many might’ve been thrilled to have their wish of working from home come true, many are just itching to get back to normal. The recently unemployed got a chance to have a paid vacation thanks to CERB, must be getting a little worried now that boredom is setting in and CERB could be reduced or done with. The prospect of not having a job for months or years is terrifying and so the initial solace one may have got by realizing that all Canadians were in it together will have worn out.
The sobering reality is that the next few years will be lean years where many will have to make do with less.
Meanwhile a guaranteed income for all the unemployed was not-so-long-ago seen as an socialist/leftist idea now seems to have become a more centrist one. Given the current economic scenario, there is serious consideration being given to an idea which was once dismissed outright. This is the kind of idea that would be seen as something out of the federal NDP playbook. Perhaps much of their platform may be more appealing to Canadians even if their leader lacks that mass appeal.