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Our Times 3

The Cataclysm of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become an unprecedented public health crisis, spreading throughout much of the world and causing profound economic and social upheaval. In this series of articles, Canadian Dimension aims to make sense of the catastrophe, providing insight and analysis from a variety of voices on the left in Canada and beyond.

  • As slogans die, dots are joined

    So many inequities have been with us long before COVID-19. The pandemic made them more obvious to more people. This new awareness was awakened as the loud boosterism of the slogan “We are in this together” proved itself to be so hollow. Paradoxically, the overuse of the slogan intended to hide the true nature of our political economy from us may provide the kind of fuel that is needed to light a cleansing, a transforming, fire.

  • Capitalism is on life support. We have a decision to make

    Choosing when is the right time to let go is hard. The decision becomes much easier when the pain and suffering outweigh the benefits of living. Over the last 14 months, we’ve seen an economy on life support—capitalism kept alive by injection after injection of public money. Are we ignoring the suffering it brings and simply keeping the system alive because we cannot imagine life without it? Is it time to let go?

  • Kenney’s incompetence costs lives

    Jason Kenney’s premiership was always going to cost Alberta a fortune, whether in dignity or in dollars. Few would have suspected his ineptitude would cost lives, but here we are. After lacklustre performances leading three different ministries during the Harper years, the MP for Calgary Midnapore set his eyes on leading his home province. Kenney’s best-before date is long past due.

  • What are the Liberals hiding this time?

    The Liberals are hiding information in contracts directly related to our health and well-being during a once-in-a-century global crisis. How much did the pharmaceutical giants charge us for life-saving vaccines? What were the delivery expectations? Who failed us? How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again? These are all questions that Canadians deserve answers to, particularly those who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

  • Is the Canada Recovery Benefit a ‘workfare’ program in disguise?

    Leaving those in financial difficulty behind for a lower-wage future isn’t a bug in the Canada Recovery Benefit system—it’s a feature of a program designed and redesigned to crack down on recipients and maximize “incentive to work.” The CRB was, to this end, designed within the ‘workfare’ tradition that’s marked every social program in Canada since at least the mid-1990s.

  • Some of Canada’s biggest companies saw record profits during the pandemic

    Early in the pandemic, it was clear that the economic fallout would be unequally distributed. However, few anticipated that the pandemic could mean boom times for some. But that is precisely what happened. While lost wages, lost jobs, and small business closures generated headlines, many of Canada’s largest corporations quietly managed to achieve record profits.

  • ‘Our bucket has tipped over’: Educators in Manitoba exhausted after year of neglect

    Throughout the pandemic, the actions of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives have never been in the best interests of teachers. They have been focused solely on the economy. That’s why the government will not close schools for any meaningful amount of time. If they did, the Conservatives would have to then admit that transmission is occurring in schools and fund either universal child care or paid sick days for all Manitobans.

  • The Olympics will be the culmination of a year of failure

    If capital sees the Olympic Games as the end of a pandemic and a way out of an existential crisis that could have—but didn’t—signal its collapse, the left must observe the Olympics as a beginning; as a launching point to organize and build to the next crisis, taking the failure of this one as a lesson and not an acceptance of our system’s seemingly eternal power.

  • Jason Kenney’s epic fail

    Many on the social medias have given Alberta Premier Jason Kenney a nickname: ‘Bumbles.’ Reflecting on his government’s performance over the past year, I can hardly disagree. Scratch that. Reflecting on the United Conservative Party’s performance since it formed government just over two years ago, I can hardly disagree. Athabasca University professor Eric Strikwerda considers the evidence.

  • Writing politics during the pandemic

    We should take this moment to reflect on political writing as a collective act. The writer comes from a community, physical and digital. The writer produces material that goes into those communities, even if we do not all experience life in those communities the same. Even during a pandemic, these spaces can be productive and powerful, serving as a part of the struggle for justice and accountability.

  • It shouldn’t have taken this long for the BC NDP to legislate paid sick leave

    Following months of pressure and after more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia’s NDP government has finally announced plans to introduce a permanent paid sick leave program to cover the gaps in the federal government’s lacklustre Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. Yet, as Alex Cosh writes, it shouldn’t haven take this much effort to win such basic protections.

  • How COVID-19 and CERB proved that basic income is not only possible—it works

    As the pandemic unfolded, the momentum behind a Basic Income has grown steadily. Not surprisingly, people were given to wondering aloud: Just what kind of world would emerge post-pandemic? Would the megaphones of market fundamentalism holler about debt and deficit and the need to return to the decades of austerity, drowning out radical alternatives? Or would those who saw the plague as a canary-in-the-coal mine moment prevail?

  • Trudeau abandons promised LTC standards, bowing to for-profit care agenda

    After promising to establish national standards for long-term care in response to the tragic outcomes of COVID-19, the federal government has now washed its hands of that responsibility. It is instead passing the buck to a toothless accreditation industry to create updated standards. This band-aid solution is a far cry from what experts, advocates, and many residents, have long been asking for.

  • India’s COVID crisis shows why Canada needs to oppose vaccine monopolies

    Canada’s role in obstructing India and the rest of the Global South in their attempts to waive vaccine patent rights is immoral, unjust, and completely illogical, propping up a system of extreme vaccine inequality by allowing just 16 percent of the world’s population, all of whom reside in wealthy countries, to maintain control of half of all confirmed vaccine orders.

  • Ford and Trudeau are sacrificing workers to protect corporate profits

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are not the only COVID villains in this country. But, as Canadian Dimension columnist and author Christo Aivalis points out, as leaders of Canada’s largest jurisdictions, they have among the most power, and can do the most good. Instead, they have chosen to sacrifice workers and trample on their rights when they need help the most.

  • It’s time for Trudeau to invoke the Emergencies Act

    Wartime brings with it more than just death and carnage. In the difficult choices that must be made for the good of a country, it gives leaders a choice. They can continue being politicians, worrying about the next election, or they can seize the moment. Justin Trudeau has chosen the former, and Canadians are paying the price with their civil liberties and their lives. Now is the time to invoke the Emergencies Act.

  • Bill Gates says ‘no’ to sharing vaccine formulas with global poor to end pandemic

    Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men and most powerful philanthropists, was the target of criticism from social justice campaigners on Sunday after arguing that lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccine technology and sharing recipes with the world to foster a massive ramp up in manufacturing and distribution—despite a growing international call to do exactly that—is a bad idea.

  • A post-pandemic social peace accord?

    The key consideration is how the left should orient itself in the period that is now opening up. The concessions that employers and states make aren’t driven by wishes and hopes; they hinge on the willingness of those in power to provide them. The post-war approach was based on a capacity to broker social peace, while ensuring a robust flow of profits. There is no such prospect before us at present.

  • Cuba libre to be COVID-libre: Five vaccines and counting

    What Cuba has achieved is remarkable, but without the unjust US blockade, Cuba could have more and better results. Cuba has become a world leader in biotechnology because it has a socialist state with a centrally planned economy, that has invested in science and technology and puts human welfare before profit; that is, with the absence of capitalism and greed that British Prime Minister Johnson celebrates.

  • Amazon’s Brampton warehouse is back in business—but workers are still at risk

    More than one year into a pandemic during which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ personal wealth topped $70 billion, the local public health agency told the company to adopt elementary precautions that should have been enforced when news of the virus broke. Despite “pulling the emergency brake” on the entire province, the ruling elite’s response to underlying and unaddressed issues of worker protection remains inadequate.

  • Brampton Amazon outbreak exposes racism and classism of COVID-19

    The challenges intensified by COVID will not dissolve once life returns to some semblance of ‘normalcy.’ Racism, classism, discrimination, weak labour legislation, lack of respect for essential workers, and diminishing investment in healthcare will all continue to rear their ugly heads. Going forward, we must challenge the ethos of capitalism if want to build a just world out of the ashes of the crisis.

  • Doug Ford’s racism is risking First Nation lives

    The time to confront individual and systemic racism is long overdue. Ontario Premier Doug Ford needs to do more than apologize to NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa late on a Friday afternoon. He needs to apologize to all Indigenous peoples for what Mamakwa calls “shaming First Nations people for getting medical care.” Then he needs to kick priority vaccinations for off-reserve Indigenous peoples into high gear.

  • The pandemic and capitalism’s essential workers

    The pandemic has political leaders and policy-makers floundering about. They declare some areas free from restrictions, while others are to abide by varying degrees of lockdowns. Then the virus does an about-turn, and so do the so-called leaders and policy wonks. New and different restriction rules are put into place. Throughout all this reactive helter-skelter, there is one constant. Essential workers are to continue working. There are many of them.

  • Tracking the pandemic’s toll on Canada’s largest retail network

    Despite trying to “deliver a smile,” Canada Post is inadvertently adding additional stress on postal workers by making them distribute 13.5 million additional pieces of mail—all while ignoring their calls for better health and safety. What workers need from our publicly-owned postal service is economic transformation, not adding millions of pieces of mail to their pick-up points, sorting stations, and delivery routes.

  • It’s not too late for Canada to support a temporary waiver of COVID vaccine patents

    With an upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organization’s Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property scheduled for next month, it is not too late for wealthy countries including Canada to do the right thing and support the temporary waiving of intellectual property rights to enable poor countries to import cheap generic versions of patented COVID-19 vaccines—and save many lives in the process.

  • Ontario’s hidden institutions

    Long-term care facilities in have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost three-quarters of all pandemic-related deaths in Canada occurring within them. But there’s another type of institution in Ontario that is somehow even less regulated and less transparent than long-term care facilities: residential service homes, also known as domiciliary hostels, which are privately run and operate for profit.

  • Unmasked police are a public health hazard

    Unmasked police officers are a public health hazard. If the Winnipeg Police Service is concerned about maintaining its legitimacy, it will mandate all officers to wear a mask while on duty at all times. And, if the provincial government truly cares about public health, it will ensure everyone, without exception, is respecting public health orders.

  • Crisis policing in Québec is shifting blame to vulnerable people

    While it is undeniable that the virus has reached a critical stage in recent weeks, the adoption of authoritarian measures ought to be viewed critically. With this latest lockdown, the Québec government has failed to show humanity by policing the health crisis and putting vulnerable people at increased risk. In particular, Legault’s refusal to exempt unhoused people from the curfew only accentuated the inequities spawned by the pandemic.

  • Disabled people must be prioritized in the vaccine rollout

    Governments need to do a better job of caring for disabled people during the vaccine rollout. But prioritizing their access to the shot will mean making the vaccines public, and putting an end to for-profit models of health care delivery in Canada and beyond. We must mourn those who have been killed by institutionalization, pandemic profiteering and government inaction, and fight to keep each other safe.

  • What if Canada Post was part of the post-COVID recovery?

    Canadians own the biggest retail network in Canada: Canada Post. Imagine if those locations could drive a post-carbon, post-COVID transition. Imagine if each of those locations were retrofitted for energy efficiency including solar panels. Every delivery vehicle was electric and there was a network of charging stations from coast to coast to coast, supporting them and the needs of our communities by providing public charging stations.

  • Make the vaccines public

    Like so many aspects of this pandemic, the vaccine shortage is a clear example of how the private sector has failed to protect us during a crisis. Rather than setting its own priorities and running its own program, the Canadian government continues to chase companies such as Pfizer—which no democratic government controls. We see the results now, as health authorities cancel vaccine appointments and new cases surge across the country.

  • Divided health and the crisis of capitalism

    In a class-divided political economy, many risks are likely to impinge primarily (often only) on the working class; all too often on the poor, those with little power, and upon non-white, racialized, or Indigenous peoples. In those settings there is a much reduced impulse to avert the risks, especially if such attention demands restrictions on the ceaseless drive for the maximization of profits that is the life blood of capitalism. Class matters. It always did.

  • Failure to protect essential prisoner workers undermines public safety

    As COVID-19 continues to rage and safety for essential workers remains a central issue, the Correctional Service of Canada must be held accountable for failing to protect some of the most vulnerable essential workers in the country—working prisoners. CSC policy is endangering those to whom they owe a “duty of care” and threatens to undermine public safety by exacerbating the pandemic.

  • COVID long-haulers and the plight of unproductive bodies

    The attitude towards COVID long-haulers exemplifies the treatment that the capitalist state has always reserved for bodies with disabilities. It also gives the lie to the appreciative and caring posture adopted by employers and the Canadian government towards frontline workers, and shines a light on the realities of a society that has historically stigmatized and marginalized those who cannot work for pay.

  • Alberta’s paranoid outlook

    Alberta was born in rapid societal change, its population growing a staggering 413 percent in its first decade. For reasons of geography, economy, and chance, the province’s history has been defined by booms that draw people in and crashes that can foster paranoid worldviews. Conspiracy theories evolve along with and as part of political culture, perhaps even faster when the culture itself refuses to.

  • Canada is choosing corporate property rights over the health of billions

    Why is the Trudeau government not supporting sensible policy to help vaccinate millions of people living in the poorest continent in the Global South? This is likely because Ottawa is in thrall to big business and the interests of the already wealthy. Surely, ending the COVID-19 pandemic must be a top priority. The faster the entire world’s population is vaccinated, the better off we all will be.

  • With a little help for his friends

    Under the cover of COVID, Christmas came early this year for the friends of Doug Ford. And what did Santa Doug do to make all this happen? He stuffed the stockings hung by the chimney with care. Every one of these treats was snuck into omnibus bills designed to deal with the pandemic. Mr. Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. He gave it to his friends.

  • COVID vaccines: Calling the shots

    What better lesson can we learn from the COVID vaccine experience than that the multinational pharma companies should be publicly owned so that research and development can be directed to meet the health and medical needs of people rather than to the profits of these companies. Then the necessary vaccines can get to the billions in the poorest countries and circumstances rather than to just the wealthiest.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine and its discontents

    As long as we pledge our support for a global power hierarchy in which poorer nations are asked to “take the leftovers,” the international community will be less prepared for future pandemics and outbreaks. In a perfect world, rapid inoculation would be available to all nations, rich or poor, and free at the point of delivery. Yet, nothing about this virus, nor the dictates of global capital, is fair or equitable—even the cure.

  • Neoliberalism is killing Manitobans

    As many predicted, spending cuts produced unintended costs. Little did we know it would be the lives of so many Manitobans. As John Maynard Keynes once said: “It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.” Pallister was precisely wrong, and his frugal approach to politics and spending is exactly why Manitobans are dying. The blood is on his hands.

  • Why COVID-19 shows it’s time to consider prison abolition

    Prisoners are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and the response to this risk within correctional facilities across Canada has only created an alternate outbreak of health problems. For prisoner advocates like Michelle Gushue of the Elizabeth Fry Society, the most compassionate and effective response to this problem is removing people from these institutions and returning them to their communities.

  • ‘Warehouses like this are not the answer’: Exposing the crisis of long-term care in Manitoba

    Institutionalized people in Manitoba are experiencing the brunt of COVID-19—from jails, to long-term care homes to hospitals. Our demands for a just recovery must centre those most impacted by the virus, and this requires a movement away from neoliberalism towards a system of rapid decarceration and deinstitutionalization. Only then can we begin to reckon with the legacy of austerity and adopt more ethical models of care.

  • ‘Don’t come unless you have a death wish’: Nurses describe pandemic’s toll on Winnipeg hospital

    The failure to contain multiple preventable COVID-19 outbreaks at Winnipeg’s Saint Boniface Hospital (which is currently experiencing the worst of three hospital outbreaks in the city) is attributable not only to mismanagement by the hospital’s executive staff, but also to years of austerity under Premier Brian Pallister’s Conservative government. The effects are—and will continue to be—devastating. 

  • 72 hours and 18 deaths later, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister finally faces the province on COVID-19 surge

    As of Monday, November 2, there are over 3,400 active cases in Manitoba, which has an astounding test positivity rate of nine percent. Instead of doing the job we elected him to do—that is, supporting teachers, nurses, small businesses, and minimum-wage workers who are directly impacted by the move to code red—Premier Brian Pallister has chosen to shirk responsibility and download it onto the people.

  • COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on Toronto’s homeless

    On any given day, over 9,200 people in the city of Toronto meet one of the definitions of homelessness. Shelters in the city generally reach an average occupancy rate of approximately 98 percent every night, and 76 percent of the homeless population claim that the key factor in improving their situation is “aid and accommodation in paying the high rents of the city.” COVID-19 is making the situation even worse.

  • Time to free Canada’s long-term care system from its backward history

    History affords us a lens with which we may look back, spot mistakes, and, if we are wise, correct them. A situation that began before Confederation in 1867 has piggybacked upon itself for generations, repeating the same mistakes in one form or another. If we are to do better for seniors, the LTC system in Canada must break free from this historical pattern.

  • Political openings: Class struggle during and after the pandemic

    After the pandemic, the challenge confronting the left is whether it can take advantage of the spaces capitalism has not completely conquered and the contradictions of life under capitalism that have blocked the full integration of working people, to remake the working class into one that has the interest, will, confidence, and capacity to lead a challenge to capitalism.

  • Doug Ford and neoliberalism: ‘Opening Ontario’ by shutting down democratic process

    Before and during the pandemic, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has implemented a right-wing agenda to undercut democratic decision-making, attacked Toronto’s city council, and abused parliamentary procedure to silence debate and critique. For Ford, the goals are simple: making government more “efficient” at the expense of basic democratic protections and further privileging the power of capital over public institutions.

  • Doug Ford is consolidating the power of landlords during a time of crisis

    Since winning the provincial election in 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made critical interventions in landlord-tenant relations. In declaring Ontario ‘Open For Business,’ Ford has made a concerted effort towards privileging landlords and developers at the expense of tenants in both market and legal adjudication. The question is, will we let him?

  • Basic income is on the table in Canada. Is it the fight we want?

    As unemployment remains high, CERB remains an important way to keep Canadians afloat. We should continue fighting for its survival. But the long-term idea of converting CERB to basic income, both as a policy and strategy for the left, is less a matter of principle and imagining the possible than it is a gamble with conservatives and free market fetishists.

  • Canada’s post-pandemic response: Socialism for the rich, austerity for the poor and working class?

    The ideas raised at the recent Courage press conference urge government officials and journalists to consider the importance of essential workers and vulnerable communities, not only during the pandemic, but in Canada’s economic recovery. Only by taking stock of their concerns and demands will Canada be better prepared for future crises.

  • Canada’s international graduate students and COVID-19: Beyond the rhetoric of welcome

    When unprecedented crisis situations arise, protectionist laws are implemented, bills are amended, and policies changed. However, for those under temporary or vulnerable legal status in Canada, exploitative conditions are continuously normalized. It is time for Canada and its universities to reassess their treatment of international graduate students.

  • Delayed, negligent, and ineffectual: Doug Ford’s botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic

    The verdict is in: not only have Ford and his PC government not stepped up during the pandemic, but their response to the crisis has been delayed, negligent, and ineffectual. To claim that Ford has shown strong leadership during this crisis requires deliberately closing one’s eyes to the ugly realities confronting Ontario’s most vulnerable.

  • Toronto needs a bailout for the ages

    Without proactive and big-dreaming progressive leadership at all levels, the municipal financial crisis will only grow worse. As we ask about the city we want, the question then becomes: what kind of leaders do we want, and what kind of leaders should we kick to the curb? Is their urgency proportionate to the scale of our city’s crises? Is it life and death to them as it is to us?

  • COVID-19 exposing Canada’s dependency on temporary foreign workers in the agri-food sector

    The agriculture industry’s anxious calls to re-open borders demonstrate the value of migrant labour, and what workers are really owed. Moreover, this shows the complicity of Canadian governments in propping up questionable capitalist schemes based upon the exploitation of the migrant underclass.

  • In the time of COVID, laissez-faire comes to bear in Ontario

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been praised for his government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, but his “hands-off-the-market” approach is simply a continuation of neoliberal, small-government ideas that harken back to the Mike Harris government of the mid-1990s, which led a full-frontal assault on the public sector.

  • How settler colonial states use incarceration as a tool of dehumanization during the COVID crisis

    Incarceration is a manifestation and continuation of chronic and interwoven structures of oppression. It is used to enforce racial capitalism, apartheid and colonialism, from the US to Canada to occupied Palestine. This system is not broken because it tolerates the death traps prisons and jails have become. It is functioning exactly as designed, and will not provide justice in response to this tragedy.

  • Jean Chrétien’s austerity made Canada less prepared for COVID-19

    Nearly three decades after Chrétien and Martin gutted federal support for the Canadian welfare state, the pandemic has made it clearer than ever that was a mistake. A federal role in health and social programs is necessary not only to make sure they are adequately funded, but also to be certain that the quality of programs and services is maintained across the country.

  • Forget basic income—in Canada, the new normal should bring a public housing revolution

    To better address inequality, we might first consider the comparatively unsexy, un-new idea of pursuing public housing and housing decommodification on a massive scale—call it a public housing revolution. Building tens of thousands of new social housing units every year, thus addressing backlogs and waitlists in the major megacities, is an obvious way forward.

  • Criminalizing the most vulnerable: Migrant surveillance in Canada

    Across Canada, the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the adoption of vast surveillance technologies—from systems that allow citizens to report neighbours who violate COVID safety precautions to contact-tracing through phones. But while these technologies are only beginning to be normalized among the larger Canadian public, they have been more commonly deployed among our most vulnerable communities.

  • Bill 61 is a troubling sign of rising authoritarianism in Québec

    As the COVID-19 crisis has amplified existing inequalities and accentuated the asymmetry of political and economic power in Québec and Canada, it is of vital importance to ensure that it is not exploited by the ruling and corporate classes to further disenfranchise those already with little power.

  • Novel virus, old story

    The health crisis unfolding around the globe has already had monumental impacts. News media report the pandemic is an unprecedented event. However, casting this crisis as exceptional narrows the focus. While the COVID-19 virus is unprecedented in its transmissibility, the lack of preparedness and inadequate protection for health-care workers is an old story.

  • COVID-19 and the forward march of surveillance capitalism

    The pandemic has accelerated the growth of an economy in which most of our human interactions are mediated by the very for-profit firms for whom our identities are the product being sold to companies seeking to predict and shape human behaviour. A more cautious approach to big tech’s overweening role in society is necessary once the pandemic dust settles.

  • Canadian mining abuses continue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

    The increasing violence surrounding extractive operations around the world demonstrates the role of mining as capitalism’s ‘commodities fallback’ in the face of unprecedented economic upheaval during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the global crisis continues to unfold, the inherent dilemmas of this planet-wrecking system are quickly being unearthed.

  • Health workers: From praise to protection

    Crises sometimes bring out the best in society and sometimes—or even at the same time—they clarify what is so darkly wrong within. In the particular case of the commitments and risks taken by the front-line workers that we apparently value so deeply now, the contrast lies in how little they were valued before.

  • Facing our plague: COVID-19 and Albert Camus

    Acknowledging the deep indifference lurking in the world is not cause for despair. If we steadfastly face and acknowledge it even as we battle against its manifestations, we realize that it is precisely our confrontation with reality that grounds our existence, something we must embrace if our life-journeys are to be deep and real rather than superficial and illusory.

  • Online activism during COVID-19: A case study in rent strikes

    Historically, rent strikes have resulted in successful outcomes and forced governments to amend issues faced by tenants. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the symptoms of an ongoing collective struggle among renters, and brought to the fore many of the systemic challenges they face. Will the Canadian state tend to them, or leave them to worsen?

  • Can a pandemic be boring? Yes, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

    Philosophers and psychologists teach us that boredom can be a good thing when it provides impetus for articulating our moral commitments and pursuing the personal and societal changes needed to realize them. There is reason to believe that is happening now. Let us hope that once the pandemic is behind us, and we’re left dealing with its fallout, we will all reap the benefits of that realignment.

  • COVID-19 and the racialized dimension of seafaring work

    Seafaring work is uncertain, demanding and, at times, dangerous. The pandemic has offered paramount, real-time lessons for the labour behind international trade and tourism. Workers deemed disposable steer the world’s flow of wealth, and Filipino overrepresentation in this sector is not accidental.

  • Venezuela and the COVID-19 pandemic

    As of May 25, Venezuela has recorded 1,121 coronavirus cases (22 per million inhabitants) and only 10 deaths. How have these positive statistics been achieved when for years the mainstream media—along with the United States and its allies, including Canada—has been heralding the imminent collapse of the country?

  • COVID-19’s impact on Montréal’s poorest residents lays bare striking inequalities

    Québec premier François Legault often speaks of “two Québecs” in his near-daily press briefings on the COVID-19 crisis. To be sure, however, we should also speak of two Montréals: one that is home to the (predominantly white) middle- and upper-classes, and the other, to poverty-stricken neighbourhoods which are currently experiencing the worst of the crisis.

  • The pandemic from a lawyer’s perspective

    If people in need had a right to be rescued by others who have more talent or more wealth, then the owners of the means of production might have to share their wealth. There would be a push toward honouring Marx’s aspirational slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. This is unacceptable to capitalism and will remain so after this pandemic is over.

  • Why the NDP has become the unofficial opposition during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Due to ongoing pressure from the Canadian left, the NDP is is increasingly stepping up and holding the Liberals accountable. As the de facto opposition party, the NDP must continue listening to activists and organizers as they lobby the Trudeau government, both because this process is working and because there is still much more to be done.

  • Demands for a post-pandemic future

    In the post-pandemic period, we need mass movements that go beyond protesting cuts in an effort merely to impede the advance of a regressive agenda. If we think and act along these lines, the defensive strategies that marked the neoliberal decades may yield to a more militant and radical approach that poses the question of a “broad transformation of our society.”

  • Filipino healthcare workers are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic

    This pandemic has exposed Canada’s weaknesses and failings—in particular, how it has failed to care for the oldest and most vulnerable among us. Beyond flattening the curve, provincial policies must drastically change towards eliminating the disparities in Canada’s current publicly funded, privately delivered system that provides dysfunctional, two-tiered health care.

  • Politics and pandemics

    The COVID-19 crisis is making us do some of the things required to live within the planet’s ecological boundaries. We have a stark choice before us. Rework our economy and polity around the possibilities that tackle climate change, or continue to ratchet up the labour market to produce ever more jobs while paying no attention to their ecological implications or levels of pay and conditions of work.

  • Pallister’s austerity measures will weaken Manitoba’s COVID-19 recovery

    Over the last few weeks, it has become increasingly difficult to watch Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister deliver updates during his COVID-19 livestreamed press conferences at the provincial legislature in Winnipeg. The situation in the province is developing in such a way that it may soon become a case study in the disastrous effects of austerity policies on societies recovering from the pandemic.

  • We need a citizens’ assembly for a just transition

    The COVID-19 crisis presents a remarkable opportunity to realize a post-pandemic Canada in the interests of the many through unity and action. To achieve fundamental change, we need to find a unified voice and to coalesce around and embrace a historic project of democratic decision-making. Are we up to it?

  • Political hope rises

    There is no pre-pandemic normal to return to. Neoliberal capitalism is certain to emerge from the present crisis transformed. There is, however, the question of how and by whom: by left forces in a progressive direction or by those of capital and the right in an even more authoritarian direction? That is what is politically at stake in the present moment. That is what this manifesto is about.

  • COVID-19 renews the struggle for anti-capitalist care models

    We know that profit-driven, capitalist care with its various forms of medical rationing and dehumanizing institutional approaches threaten all of us when a crisis hits. Now, it is more important than ever to build on existing successful models for anti-capitalist care, knit them together, and demand a society where people, and their care, are central in our political, social and economic organization.

  • A post-COVID-19 Canada: Towards decarceration

    The disastrous spread of COVID-19 in Canadian and American prisons illustrates the shocking exploitation and harms produced by incarceration. A response to this crisis, and beyond, must move beyond prison reform, and towards widespread decarceration—the rapid reduction of numbers of incarcerated people and subsequent reform of sentencing connected to the criminal code.

  • Has COVID-19 mandated a basic income?

    The rapid fraying of the economy due to COVID-19, with unemployment rates projected to reach 25 percent and higher, has prompted heightened interest in universal basic income (UBI). Can the CERB serve as a model? Is now the time to implement a UBI for Canada? If so, what needs to be done to create an effective, efficient and equitable basic income?

  • Under the shadow of contagion: Abuse of Filipino workers in Alberta’s largest COVID-19 outbreak

    The outbreak has been blamed incorrectly on everything other than the employers, from a community conspiracy against authorities to the necessity of workers to carpool. Around 70 percent of workers at the Cargill High River plant, it turns out, are Filipinos; some of whom are recent migrants who were hired through the federal Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program.

  • Kerala’s social policies are the best prevention against future pandemics

    Kerala, India’s communist state, has managed to flatten the curve with forceful measures. They activated controls at airports and train stations to detect the entry of the virus into the state, and established temporary quarantine shelters to lodge tourists and non-residents. This was followed by aggressive testing, contact tracing, long quarantine periods, shelters for migrant workers, and cooked meals for those most in need.

  • Disaster capitalism at work in Manitoba

    Manitoba is already receiving a glimpse of the austerity that many Canadians will likely have to face in the coming months. The Pallister government has shown itself to be incapable of moving beyond deficit reduction-obsessed politics and implementing a new economic model that prioritises mass prosperity over cutting and privatizing public services under the guise of the pandemic.

  • Canada’s COVID-19 response is leaving the homeless behind

    At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, government bodies quickly implemented preventative measures to stop the disease from tearing through communities and devastating populations. Yet the response to assist Canada’s homeless population has not been so swift, and governments at all levels are still scrambling to heed calls for improved protections to assist one of society’s most vulnerable groups.

  • COVID-19 is exacerbating discrimination against asylum seekers in Québec

    As the coronavirus hit Québec in mid-March, detainees at Laval IHC held a hunger strike to appeal to the public and authorities to take action on their living conditions. The hunger strike ultimately brought attention not only to the conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak, but it has shown that the present crisis has exacerbated the unfair conditions that have long been the reality for many.

  • A terrible triage: How COVID-19 speaks to our future

    These exceptional circumstances found all Canadians and the governments they elected woefully unprepared for its management and control. Hopefully, we will learn lessons from the many tragedies visited upon the elderly by this pandemic which will permit us to prepare for a very uncertain future. We do not want that perennial philosopher of our generation, Pogo the Possum, to prove prophetic: “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

  • Why the response to COVID-19 should include universal basic income

    With a UBI, Canadians out of work due to the pandemic would not be nervous about their prospects, knowing that their basic needs would be met. Life would go on–certainly with some trepidation and uncertainty, but Canadians would never fear losing their homes, being unable to feed their families, or terrified of needing to put themselves in vulnerable working conditions in the midst of a crisis.

  • Prioritizing collective responsibilities in the response to COVID-19

    Just as the success of the climate youth movement has been attributed to the clarity and consistency of messaging, we need this same strategy with COVID-19. We also need that clarity as we move beyond the current pandemic and address ongoing societal challenges, using it as a transformative force to move forward as a global community.

  • Toward a more caring society: Practicing empathy during a pandemic

    In a society plagued by the logic of neoliberalism, which encourages a turn towards individual interests and an “every person for themselves” mentality, acts of empathy and collective action may seem rare. But mutual aid also demonstrates how collective interests and a capacity for empathy have not entirely disappeared, and we may still have an opportunity to build upon these promising actions.

  • Government inaction on COVID-19 threatens inmates’ lives

    The government’s inaction reflects a deeply rooted attachment to risk-based, reactive paradigms when proactive initiatives that are precautionary and based on harm-avoidance are needed. The Liberal government is ignoring the reality that the virus does not discriminate, that prisons are porous to it, and that protecting the right to live is what defines us as human beings.

  • The pandemic’s unflattering glare: How the crisis is affecting care workers and prisoners

    Multiple and concurrent disasters are unfolding in pockets all across North America connected to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand this particularly in medical settings or in geographic contexts such as the hot spots in Seattle and New York City. But we will also witness disaster in institutional contexts, where a human tragedy is unfolding.

  • The false hope of a pandemic basic income

    While we must embrace the most robust demands to win greatly improved and fully accessible income support systems in these harsh times, we don’t want inadequate solutions that extend a peace offering to the neoliberal order. We need radical alternatives and bold plans of action. The concept of a basic income fell short before this searing crisis and it has even less to offer us in the face of it.

  • Liberals’ COVID-19 support measures reveal crisis in Canada’s low-wage job market

    Inequality and class disparity have been on full display in the devastating coronavirus outbreak. On the one hand, Canada’s dependence on the work of undervalued and underpaid health care workers, cleaners and retail employees has been clearer than ever. On the other, these workers are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis. In March, one-third of workers earning $14 an hour or less became jobless or lost most of their hours of work.

  • COVID-19 and the failures of capitalism

    ​In short, capitalism had built up vulnerabilities to another crash that any number of possible triggers could unleash. The trigger this time was not the dot-com meltdown of 2000 or the sub-prime meltdown of 2008-9; it was a virus. And of course, mainstream ideology requires focusing on the trigger, not the vulnerability.

  • COVID-19 is a turning point for global power

    The shifts occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are historic and volatile. While the eventual depth and duration of the twin health and economic crises are still unknown, there is no doubt that global powers are again using the shock of a crisis to consolidate power and vie for global leadership.

  • After the pandemic

    When people emerge from their homes after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic they will be confronted by a greatly changed global order. A devastating public health crisis will continue to play out and a global economic slump that the pandemic has hastened and massively exacerbated will cast its shadow over the next several years.

  • The world rediscovers Cuban medical internationalism

    This moment calls for global cooperation and solidarity, and on that front, Cuba provides a lesson for us all. We can start by demanding an end to US sanctions that stop Cuba from getting access to the resources it needs to fight this deadly pandemic, both for their own population and for the global beneficiaries of Cuban medical internationalism.

  • Safe jobs, fair pay and income recovery more important than ever amid COVID-19

    Workers ought to be made whole to mitigate their losses stemming from the current economic crisis. Systemic delays, inadequate resources, unpreparedness, crippled medical resources and, in some cases, outright indifference to the fate of hundreds of thousands of working people has compelled many to work in close proximity without adequate protection.

  • ‘We have always been disposable’: The structural violence of neoliberal healthcare

    The marriage of neoliberalism and the medical industrial complex has had disastrous results in Canada, even without the presence of a pandemic. This toxic relationship has led to decades of healthcare cuts, privatization of services, and warehousing of disabled and elder populations. Now, COVID-19 is exacerbating an already broken system.

  • The two viruses: COVID-19 and capitalism

    The current self-serving and anti-social posture taken by capitalists reveals they are content to let people suffer and die if this pandemic allows them to maintain or augment their wealth. The stakes could not be higher. Our response has the potential to make this horrific pandemic a crucial moment, or even the basis for a revolutionary transformation in social relations.

  • Defining a space for resistance: Countering the disempowering effects of social distancing

    Pushing people into echo-chambers of their own solipsism is merely an extension of the way that many people live in both real and virtual worlds. In this sense, we are already socially distant–the more pressing concern is understanding the broader impacts of forced spatial distancing, especially upon society’s most vulnerable.

  • Disease and direct action: Organizing the Winnipeg General Strike and the 1918 influenza pandemic

    The influenza outbreak experienced in Winnipeg over a century ago, described in detail in Esyllt Jones’ Influenza 1918: Disease, Death, and Struggle in Winnipeg, echoes many of today’s crises caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it also offers a rough guide for what may come next.

  • The environmental vaccine: How COVID-19 opens the door to a Green New Deal

    Governments around the world are comparing the resolution of the COVID-19 crisis to a war. After all, it was the New Deal and World War II that launched an era of globally unprecedented economic growth, prosperity and the swelling of the middle class. Let us use this ‘war on COVID-19’ and the Green New Deal to learn from our past mistakes, and prepare us for a socially and environmentally just future.

  • Canada is ignoring the gendered impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous women

    Every level of government and state agency in Canada has had a hand in creating and maintaining the worst socio-economic conditions for Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women and girls. Their continued failures to address ongoing genocide puts Indigenous women and girls at higher risk for infection and death from COVID-19.

  • Lessons from Taiwan during COVID-19: Between politics and collective experience

    What will the post-coronavirus world look like? History tells us that in times of crisis, large corporations and the most vulnerable in society seek refuge under the protection of the state. The 2008 financial crisis already made clear that markets alone cannot drive competitiveness and prosperity. On the contrary, state intervention is crucial.

  • Coronavirus and the death of ‘connectivity’

    The COVID-19 pandemic is the second major crisis of globalization in a decade. The first was the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, from which the global economy took years to reach a semblance of recovery. We did not learn our lessons from the first, and this is perhaps why the impact of the second has been even more massive.

  • Coronavirus colonialism: How the COVID-19 crisis is catalyzing dispossession

    While we are all doing our best to adapt to the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, we must ensure that our isolation does not lead to collective complacency. Now is the time to double-down on our demands for justice and to distance ourselves from capitalism and colonialism.

  • Why Concordia got it so wrong with eviction of student residents during COVID-19

    So often, universities are heralded as paragons of expertise, logic and altruism. How Concordia interpreted the mass eviction of hundreds of its students in the midst of a global pandemic to be a measure of health and safety is unfathomable.

  • ‘Caremongering’ groups show what social movements can accomplish in a pandemic

    Torontonians and Canadians looking to make a difference in responses to COVID-19 should keep these lessons in mind as they volunteer their time and resources to help those most vulnerable. Our kindness is only as effective as the politics that backs it, and we all deserve to live full, secure, and dignified lives even after this pandemic passes.

  • The insanity of making sick people work

    Coronavirus is putting extra burdens on workers, from health professionals to low-paid cleaning staff at the front line of combating infection. Yet many of these same workers don’t even have the right to sick pay – meaning they’ll feel compelled to work even if it risks spreading the virus.

  • Morality in an amoral world

    The coronavirus outbreak is a crisis that challenges us to look beyond our own immediate concerns and ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in. We don’t have much time: climate change will make this virus seem like a picnic. But we do have some time right now. Let’s try to use it as constructively as we can.

  • As coronvirus grips the US, Americans get a taste of life under sanctions

    Across fifty states, Americans are collectively bracing for the incoming COVID-19 pandemic to hit. The crippling shortages, inability to move and the likely overwhelming of medical services will give Americans a taste of what it is like to live under sanctions that it imposes on a number of countries worldwide

  • The unexpected reckoning: Coronavirus and capitalism

    The present pandemic is certain to be different not because it is more lethal than previous ones (it is not), nor because it is causing havoc in financial markets (as most crises of neoliberal era have), but because it is exposing the weaknesses, distortions and imbalances of the productive apparatus that neoliberalism has shaped over four decades.

  • Cuba’s contribution to combatting COVID-19

    Since its first application to combat dengue fever, Cuba’s interferon has shown its efficacy and safety in the therapy of viral diseases including Hepatitis B and C, shingles, HIV-AIDS and dengue. Because it interferes with viral multiplication within cells, it has also been used in the treatment of different types of carcinomas. Time will tell if Interferon Alfa 2b proves to be the wonder drug as far as COVID-19 goes.

  • COVID-19 and the working class

    It can be expected that the COVID-19 virus will have a large negative impact on the standard of living and wages of millions of working class American families. They will have to bear the burden of the cost with little help from their government. Meanwhile, businesses and investors will get bailed out, ‘made whole,’ once again.

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