MP Maryam Monsef released an op-ed earlier this week titled “Looking forward to 2021”.
It’s a thoughtful piece, touching on a number of topics of importance to the business community, so I thought I would share both the op-ed, and my own personal reactions (in italics)
In difficult times we look to one another, to our friends, neighbours, and community, to pull each other up and ensure that everything is going to be okay. We needed each other more than ever in 2020, and this community responded with the kind of resiliency and compassion that makes me so proud to call Peterborough-Kawartha home.
Indeed, I think we can all be proud of our community, from the thorough response of Peterborough Public Health, to the way we (generally) followed their advice. From the way local businesses adjusted to the lockdown, to the way the community rallied support for those local businesses. And while we are back in lockdown, the fundamentals are in place for most businesses to survive.
As we work towards rebuilding, we know that some things cannot go back to business as usual. The pandemic has given us the unique opportunity to fix the vulnerabilities in our societies that have been exposed.
Seniors living in long-term care homes have been immensely affected during this pandemic, and we will work to ensure that something like this never happens again. We'll work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care, so seniors get the best care possible.
Let’s hope the lessons we didn’t learn from the SARS outbreak are being relearned and will stick this time…
While our robust health care system has managed the pandemic well, it has made the need for things like access to a primary care physician, mental health services, virtual healthcare services, and universal pharmacare more obvious. We look forward to working with the provinces and territories to achieve these goals and strengthen our healthcare system.
The multi-jurisdictional mess we call a health care system, will unfortunately take a lot of work to fix. However, perhaps the table has been set.
Working from home has been a possibility for many sectors of the economy, thanks to a world-class internet infrastructure. Unfortunately, some rural Canadians haven't been able to fully participate in this evolution in the same way. That's why we're accelerating timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund, so every Canadian, no matter where they live, can have access to reliable high-speed internet services.
Kudos to all levels of Government for continuing to treat this important piece of business infrastructure as a priority. Organizations like the Eastern Ontario Regional Network have led the way. And while broadband is specifically mentioned, it’s important to realize that the pandemic has changed everything. While we all long for a return to “Normal”, I think we’ll find that it won’t be there, not really. Several business fundamentals have changed. From how we reach our customers through marketing, to how we reach them through product and service delivery. It doesn’t matter if you are stamping out widgets, putting on a rock concert, serving up a burger, selling boats, raising money, you name it, it won’t be the same.
The future is green. Long-term competitiveness will be achieved through clean growth while fighting climate change. The time is now to transition away from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy, increased energy efficiency, and reliable public transportation options.
Emphasis on transition…
Despite the challenges put in front of us in 2020, we continue to move forward with our vision for Peterborough-Kawartha. Today, more affordable housing is being built, major infrastructure projects like the Causeway and EORN Cell Gap Project are progressing, Peterborough is getting an upgraded bus fleet and a new composting centre, Curve Lake is closer to clean water than it has been in 50 years, and we now have two federally-funded teams of frontline workers on the streets fighting the opioid crisis 24/7.
While this list is obviously federal, it serves to illustrate the relationship between all levels of Government, the service delivery agencies, the business community, and various stakeholders. Politics aside, the Pandemic has forced partnerships and cooperation that simply didn’t exist before. It will take vision and strategy to maintain some of these new relationships.
There is much more work to do, but know that as we move forward, we move forward together - as fellow Canadians, neighbours, and as a community. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2021 and beyond.
“All the best” is a good choice of words. Community leaders, and not just our elected leaders, were thrown into the deep end, nearly a year ago. I can say from personal experience, and having shared multiple conversations with my counterparts from the business community, multiple community agencies, and first nations, municipal, provincial and federal elected leaders, that everyone did their best, and will continue to do so.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.