Business and political leaders cannot afford to waste COVID-19’s unifying role as a common villain. Partisan divisiveness has become a major negative force in 21st-century enterprise and politics that has closed free-trade doors and increased the corrosive fallout from widening wealth gaps and inert governments.
The pandemic’s threat to everything from transportation, trade and travel to entertainment and community events has for the first time this century galvanized communities and countries in a war against a single enemy. That singular focus has temporarily eliminated parochial walls.
And Canada needs all the singular focus it can get to allow it to tread water in what is shaping up to be a rapid downshift into global recession that will affect all sectors and social strata in the country.
Civility and empathy in the House of Commons following word that the prime minister’s wife had tested positive for the coronavirus was a welcome departure from current standard operating procedure in the political arena.
But singular focus needs to be applied now to the COVID-19 economy.
It is devolving into ever-darker degrees of bleak, especially for Canada.
In a recent economic assessment, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development notes that COVID-19’s severe impact on the global economy has rendered growth prospects highly uncertain. What is certain is that they are not good. The assessment estimates annual GDP growth dropping to 2.4% this year, which is down from an already anemic 2.9% in 2019. It pegs Canada’s GDP growth at a slim 1.3%, down another 0.3% from 2019 and likely optimistic in light of recent events.
The COVID-19 economy has also underscored the world’s overreliance on China as the centre of its manufacturing and supply chain universe.
Diversification to domestic and regional sources is long overdue.
The COVID-19 challenge has and will inflict a lot of damage in the short term, but its role in unifying local, regional and international virus war efforts could pay long-term social and economic benefits.