In My Opinion: Frightening times challenge our society

Rima Berns-McGown is the MPP for Beaches-East York.


Dear Friends and Neighbours,

These are frightening times. Many of us have never before lived through an event that upends our collective lives so thoroughly.

We’ve heard about them — perhaps from refugees newly arrived from war zones, or from grandparents who fought in the Second World War, or friends who fought for freedom in one country or another.

But for many of us this is new.

Our economic future is uncertain. Some of us are drawing on savings intended for our retirement. Others of us worked multiple jobs to put food on the table and now can’t make ends meet but still don’t qualify for the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit.

All of us are living with loss right now.

It’s hard not to be able to hug loved ones who don’t live with us, not to be able to cuddle the new baby in the family.

It’s hard not to have the freedom to walk with friends on the Boardwalk, meet up for a coffee or a pint, go out for dinner and a movie at the Fox.

It’s hard to walk down Queen Street East, the Danforth, Kingston Road, or Main Street, and to see all the shuttered small businesses.

Some have closed their doors to the public but are managing to fulfill online orders and deliveries.
Some are closed for now. Others will never come back.

Perhaps, worst of all, you have been personally touched by the death of a loved one from COVID-19.  Perhaps you know folks who have had frighteningly close brushes with death.

Of all the cruelties this disease is bringing upon us, the inability to be with loved ones at the time of their passing is perhaps the very cruelest.

Please reach out if you or someone you know needs a phone call — whether you need me or my team to answer a question, help strategize your way out of a problem, or simply to listen.

As we figure out how to keep safe and whole during this difficult time, I’m doing my very best to advocate for all of you: your children, your homes, your vulnerable family members.

We are being challenged as a society in extraordinary ways.

The crisis has exposed the weaknesses in the systems that are meant to make us a strong, caring society.

At the same time, it perhaps offers us the opportunity we need to fix those systems, and I sincerely hope that we have the courage and imagination to rebuild in more equitable, kinder, and always better ways.

In the meantime, thank you to all of you who are doing your part to maintain physical distance from everyone you don’t live with.

Thank you to all of you who are being kind and helping others during this crisis.

Most of all, thank you to all the essential workers who risk their health every day to keep the rest of us safe: to our fantastic healthcare professionals and all the others on the frontline who don’t give up and can’t stay home.

We are so grateful for you and the work you are doing.

We’ll have a big party to thank you when this is all over.

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