Food banks became a reality when I was a teenager growing up in Coquitlam in the early 80s. My family had to rely on the food bank and it is one of the reasons why, whenever I get a chance, I give back to them.
While watching the news at night, I heard how food banks are in high demand and struggling to provide services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has always bothered me that in a country as rich as Canada is, we rely upon the generosity of our citizens to fill the gap between what governments provide to the needy and what they actually need.
Some Canadians will receive government relief, but for those who do not qualify, they will have to rely on the generosity of others to get enough to eat. At a time of crisis, why are we splitting hairs between who gets government relief and who does not? Are we not all residents of Canada?
This crisis has illustrated to me why it is time to enshrine a universal basic income for every Canadian. This crisis has shown that not only is it possible, but necessary. All that is lacking is the political will.
If we learn nothing else from this crisis, it has to be that we can't go back to doing business as usual.
Business as usual led to the erosion of our social safety net. Business as usual contributed to our housing crisis. Business as usual led to a lack of affordable care for both the disabled and seniors in our country. Business as usual has led to a critical shortage of doctors and nurses in this country. Business as usual has illustrated why we must strengthen and not erode our public healthcare system. Business as usual allowed critical manufacturing jobs to be sent offshore to the point that we are all now competing with other provinces and countries for personal protective equipment from China.
This crisis has clearly illustrated that we either rise or fall collectively as a country. We must re-examine how we do things, and not allow ourselves to fall back into our bickering partisan camps.
I'll close this note with quotes from two very important Canadians who have inspired me throughout my life, and who saw a brighter future for a more just and inclusive Canada.
"Have courage friends, 'tis not too late to build a better world!" — Tommy Douglas
"Don't let them tell you it can never be done." — Jack Layton
Rob Bottos, Coquitlam