Welcome to The Feed. Your bi-weekly resource to Canadian politics and policies broken down into itty bitty (super witty) bite-sized knowledge by Apathy is Boring. Pun intended.
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WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
Since we last talked just two weeks ago, COVID-19 has changed everything. Across Canada and around the world, efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have led to unprecedented measures. Daily life as we know it has ground to a halt. People are staying home, shops and restaurants have shuttered, schools have closed, borders have been cut off… the list goes on and on and on. There’s been a dizzying array of major developments to this story, including Canada and the United States closing their shared border to non-essential travel, the federal government rallying manufacturers to make extra medical supplies and PM Trudeau (who is self-quarantining after his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19) announcing an $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses. The Summer Olympics, set to take place in Tokyo this year, are also being postponed until 2021 thanks to some gentle arm-wringing by Team Canada. Read on for lots more deets about what’s happening during this extraordinary time.
Two weeks ago, you probably hadn’t heard of social distancing. Now it’s everywhere. New term, who dis? Social distancing — or physical distancing, as some are calling it — refers to minimizing close contact with others to stop the spread of COVID-19. Basically, stay home as much as possible! While specific restrictions in Canada vary by where you live and your situation, read here for some basic dos and don’ts on social distancing. And take note: the federal government says it will consider tough enforcement measures for those not following the new rules. Wondering when social distancing will end? Join the club. Estimates vary, but a new report from the Conference Board of Canada predicts travel bans and social distancing could stick until the end of August. In the meantime, check this out: a Globe and Mail reporter worked with researchers at Simon Fraser University to show where we’re heading and why social distancing matters so much.
With so much going on, and it all happening so fast, we’re guessing you have some unanswered questions. Let’s run through a bunch, rapid fire style. Click on the link for answers. What’s the difference between social distancing, self isolation and household quarantine? Who can COVID-19 affect? (Hint: it’s not just the elderly and those with underlying health issues who are at risk.) What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and how can you get tested if you have them? How are Indigenous communities bracing for coronavirus? How are Canadians stranded abroad amid the outbreak getting home? (P.S. "amid" wins the coronavirus buzzword award.) Why is PM Trudeau working from home? What’s the role of opposition parties during a pandemic? What are some #QuarantineAndChill recommendations? What’s the deal with people stockpiling toilet paper? And finally, what else do I need to know about coronavirus and its toll around the world?
Facts Only: There’s a lot of information out there right now, but not all of it is accurate. Photos of wild animals flourishing in quarantined cities, for example, took over social media, but such news was false. Other misinformation, like false treatment claims, can have dangerous consequences. Stick to the facts from your provincial health authority, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization and trusted media sources. Related: check out Ryerson University’s Misinformation Watch that tracks false COVID-19 claims, and read why now more than ever, we must fight misinformation.
#PlankTheCurve: Flattening the curve is another new term we’re hearing a lot about. It’s about preventing a peak of infections by social distancing now, because such a peak could overwhelm our health care system, as has happened in Italy. But according to Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, “we don’t just need to flatten the curve, we need to plank it.” Hear hear.
Economic Impact: As you can probably imagine, all this pandemic news is not good for any country’s economy. Stock markets have plunged, oil prices are at record lows and business leaders are pressing the federal government to act now to avoid massive layoffs. Already, layoffs related to COVID-19 have led to 500,000 new applications for Employment Insurance in just four days. Read why some say a universal basic income is the wisest solution, and one that could help counter the economic damage.
Self Care: Simply put, there’s a lot going on right now. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. We recommend heeding this advice from experts on what you can do to manage your anxiety and maintain your mental health, from keeping a routine to avoiding internet rabbit holes. Plus, a psychiatrist shares ways to cope with stress and negative emotions, as well as the importance of using technology to still stay connected. Virtual dance party, anyone?
What Else We’re Nibbling on
Let’s end on a bright note. Here’s what’s giving us all the feels: Across the country, brewers and distillers are shifting production, from beer and spirits to hand sanitizer. A British Columbia clothing maker has seen a surge in demand for a dress emblazoned with the periodic table of elements, after it was worn by Alberta’s chief medical officer during a COVID-19 briefing. Retired health care workers are answering the call for help, while some grocery stores are increasing pay for staff working through the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we loved this listen on moments of joy during the pandemic, from competitive marble racing to singing songs on balconies.