Build Back Better Guelph

August 18, 2020

Building Back Better in Guelph

As a community we have made very good progress in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With little warning we all had to react: how to stay safe, how we would deal with our jobs and homelife, and how we would support each other.  

From the start, we saw the importance of routines that were disrupted including grocery shopping, paying bills, and staying in touch. 

Now going forward we are looking at how to build back better by applying some of the lessons we have learned to build a more resilient community as we go through the stages of recovery, to be better prepared for future events.

Emergency response preparedness, having stock of personal protective equipment, medical testing, and working closely with public health were first priorities aimed at keeping the healthcare system from overloading.  The federal government will continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada on Canadian supply of goods and services, including emergency stock controls.

Food security was addressed in the recent Food Policy for Canada.  Locally sourced food, food supply chains, and distribution of healthy, nutritious and affordable food were all key elements of Canada’s first ever Food Policy that was launched in 2019.  We are now looking at support for producers, temporary international workers, and safe processing of food including health and safety of workers in processing plants.  Access to food for vulnerable people, including food delivery services from grocery stores has transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as has pickup and delivery of food from restaurants.   Emergency food supply in communities has also transformed, and in Guelph the level of collaboration has gone to the next step including improved central storage of food on Huron Street and at the Guelph Food Bank.

Housing for vulnerable people also became acute, to curb the spread of COVID19 in shelters and on the streets.  With extra federal funding for Reaching Home, emergency provisions were made with local hotels.  More permanent solutions are being worked on, and projects have been identified using “lessons learned”.  Housing options for seniors and supportive housing options are included, as well as support for people facing violence at home, where home is no longer a safe space.

The front-line workers in our health care and long-term care showed us what many take for granted: access to safe working conditions, and access to safe facilities. In particular, a review of long-term care is underway with many steps already being taken to protect the safety of both care workers and residents.  Each province is working in conjunction with the Federal government to ensure we keep our seniors safe and healthy and learn from this pandemic how to ensure a bright future. 

Support for businesses and workers within businesses has shown the various situations that need to be covered for businesses to have access to credit and supports, and workers to have access to employment insurance and fair wages.  As we recover economically, we are modifying programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account and Employment Insurance, and more work will need to be done.  The good news is that the economy is recovering relatively quickly so far, compared to other recessions.  A lot of this has to do with our strength going into the pandemic, but also the speed at which business was able to respond to have people stay at home during the early stages.

All of our mental health has been affected by the pandemic in some way during the past four months.  We have all had our good and bad days and wondered how our lives could have been changed so drastically.  Much is happening in the way of online supports and outreach and I encourage you to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Call 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or connect to the online Hope for Wellness chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca 

Please stay well and be kind to one another.

Lloyd