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Column: Time for transition

So far, the beginning of the current year has been little more than a continuance of the previous one.

So far, the beginning of the current year has been little more than a continuance of the previous one. I share the frustrations of many others who might wonder “When is this all going to end”? 

Thus far, we have had restrictions extended in our home province as we see curfews imposed on fellow Canadians in Quebec and stay-at-home orders imposed on residents of Ontario and Manitoba. Vaccinations are taking place across the nation, but we are told that the earliest they might be completed is in the early fall. We all secretly hope that that timeline will be significantly advanced. But we also know that the same vaccines that we need are being sought worldwide. We don’t produce them, so we must depend and compete with the rest of the world to obtain our fair share. 

The current situation is beyond the understanding or acceptance of the majority of us. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be planning ahead for life after COVID-19. Our government should be learning from this and ensuring that we avoid these damaging scenarios in the future. After all, what good is it to record history if we do not learn from it? I believe we have much to learn from these current challenges that should give cause for our country to change some of our ways.

The first thing that comes to mind is that we are far too reliant on the rest of the world. We have always enjoyed a resource- and commodity-based economy. We sell raw materials such as lumber, metals, oil and grains to other countries. We then buy back those same commodities as finished consumer products, in the form of furniture, automobiles, gasoline and dry pasta. When there are worldwide shortages or a greater demand than there is supply, we pay the most – despite the fact that much of the original material was sourced from us. 

We need to start thinking more about self-sustainability and the ability to produce for our own needs. Take the current demand for COVID-19 vaccines, for example. Why are we dependent on foreign manufacturers to provide us with those vaccines? Why are drug manufacturers not doing business in every single province in Canada? We can’t do anything about the current situation, but moving forward, we can ensure we attract pharmaceutical investment within our own borders. We have great institutions that train and educate brilliant minds from around the world. We need to retain those brilliant minds to do their work within our borders once they move into the workforce, instead of having them work elsewhere throughout the world.

We also need to end our addiction to cheap credit as well. Cheap credit is only guaranteed to be cheap for the term agreed upon. For those of us who lived through the credit crisis of the 1980s, we remember well what it was like to endure 21 per cent mortgages. We remember well the loss of homes and businesses during those times. If that were to happen today, we would again see economic devastation. We need to remind ourselves that given the economic impact of this pandemic, history could very well repeat itself.  

Moving forward, let’s commit to sustainability. Let’s look at diversifying our economy to fit our needs and consumer demands. Let's commit to supporting the brave entrepreneurs that invest in our local economies and encourage others to do likewise. Most of all, we need to inspire our political leaders to work toward less reliance on the will of the rest of the world so as to control our own destiny.  

I'd like to cap off this column with a quote from writer Lalah Deliah:

“Always remember this! Grapes must be crushed to make wine. Diamonds form under pressure. Olives are pressed to release oil. Seeds grow in darkness. Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure, pressed, or in darkness, you're in a powerful place of transformation. Trust the process.”