Two crises are unfolding around us that emanate from the COVID-19 pandemic. The most visible and talked about is the immediate health crisis, but equally important is the economic fallout. And while we all know our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 (practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, etc.) most of us do not know how to protect and repair the damage to our economic well-being—which will linger long after herd immunity is achieved and likely affect us for the next decade.
The impact on Greater Victoria
We have always been somewhat economically buffered here in Greater Victoria. It’s the result of having such a desirable location, the provincial capital and burgeoning Tech and Tourism industries. So, when we go from the lowest unemployment in Canada at 3.4% to unemployment of more than 10% in just a few short months, we know that something profound has just happened.
We are fortunate enough to have initiated a regional economic development approach and process in 2016, resulting in the creation of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. A truly unique private and public sector collaboration that is inclusive of all municipalities and cultures. And we are fortunate to have good leaders and a roll up your sleeves, collaborative approach to taking care of our own here on the island. Thus, the Rising Economy Task Force was born of this strong and adaptive regional culture.
The Task Force developed ten pillars and 120 recommendations for accelerated and inclusive recovery. These ranged from simple things like telling our story, strengthening, and supporting local, to more complex initiatives like investing in workforce skills for the future and investing in digital infrastructure access close to the divide.
The entire report is available here, and we should all read it. Why? Because we need to be accountable for our recovery. We all need to understand how our individual choices and actions affect the whole. We need to understand why the vulnerable matter and why we need to bring everyone along, leaving no one behind. No one else can do this for us.
Working together helps everyone
If we can understand the economic equivalents to social distancing (shop local let’s say), washing our hands (invest in training our employees) and wearing a mask (communicate, advocate and collaborate with government, academia and community) we will all contribute to a swifter recovery and a more resilient economy. We will reduce pain and suffering while creating a more inclusive and resilient economy that supports and improves the quality of life for everyone, not just the select few.