I'm a fifth year sociology student interested in economics, geopolitics, environmentalism and music. I write on a wide variety of topics.

Given the abrupt nature of this tragic pandemic, it’s easy to believe that COVID-19 was little more than a fluke. That the mistake of one poor individual eating the now infamous bat-soup from a Chinese wet market was a one-off event; an unfortunate circumstance, but one that is unlikely to happen again. 

Unfortunately, the truth is much more complicated. COVID-19 has put into perspective how fragile humanity’s peaceful relationship with the natural systems that guide the biosphere are – natural systems that society has long been exploiting. The sudden rise of a biological nightmare has not come out of sheer coincidence, but rather is a symptom of years of exasperating ecological exploitation and shrinking natural wilderness. Now that the first wave of COVID-19 cases seems to be winding down (at least in some countries), perhaps it is time to take a moment and consider what very well may be next – an antibiotic resistant superbug. 

For years the animal agriculture business has been heavily ridiculed within the environmental community for the devastating impacts that large scale factory farming has on the environment. From slash and burn cutting in the Amazon Jungle to swine “poop-trains” along the East Coast USA, environmentalists have long condemned the problematic environmental impacts that animal agriculture has on the planet. 

But the health impacts have been largely dissuaded – occasionally coming up in questions surrounding genetic modification or hormone-fed animals, but largely tossed aside as non-issues. Yet under this façade of hamburgers and chicken nuggets has grown a larger issue – the risk of antibiotic resistant superbugs. 

An article in CBC recently cited a study done by the Council of Canadian Academics around the issue of antibiotic resistant superbugs, and found that by 2050, an estimated 400,000 people could have died from superbugs (Kane, 2019). Years of factory farming is largely to blame, as over-concentrated animal agriculture facilities have exasperated the use of antibiotics, quickly leading to viruses, fungi, and bacteria that develop immunity to the antibodies (Kane, 2019). Without proper surveillance and regulation, this threat will merely exasperate, putting millions of people’s lives at risk and costing hundreds of billions of dollars to deal with. 

COVID-19 has shown just how dangerous a global pandemic can be, and that is with the perceived hope of a vaccine at the end of the tunnel. Continuing to allow concentrated factory farming to use antibiotics to stem off diseases within their herds will merely exasperate the risk of an antibiotic resistant superbug leading to a new global pandemic, one that cannot be solved by a vaccine. The cost of ignoring this pressing issue is drastic – as University of British Columbia professor Brett Finlay said best: “This is almost as big, if not bigger, than climate change” (Kane, 2019). 

COVID-19 is no fluke. It is a symptom of a larger problem – a global economic system that fails to consider the delicate relationship between human beings and the natural world. If we continue to ignore that relationship, the long term consequences will be dire. 

Reference: 

Kane, Laura. (Nov. 12, 2019). Drug resistance likely to kill 400,000 Canadians by 2050, report predicts. CBC.https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/superbug-deaths-1.4429406

P.C: Ryan McGuire

How fortunate is it that I am still allowed to go to work during this pandemic? I am deemed an ‘essential employee’ – laughs – in this time of crisis, though I am nothing more than a barista at my local drive-thru only coffee shop. Fortunately, my risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. I get to come to work and see my friends, talk with my favorite customers, share a cup of joe with those who need it most, and fill my day with smiles, laughs and, most importantly, caffeine.  

If I am so fortunate, though, why do I feel so cheated by the CERB?  

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is absolutely necessary during COVID-19. $2000 every four weeks will help Canadians pay for the necessities of life and will lead to a faster economic recovery once the pandemic settles down. The importance of this plan cannot be understated, and the speed and efficiency that the CERB has been implemented is remarkable. However, for essential employees who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, the lack of benefits received is truly unfortunate. 

                       

Take grocery store workers. The tireless work of these employees has been a sight to behold since the pandemic started, and how important they are to the community has been exposed in full. Heaps of praise for their hard work has been rightfully given, but the fact remains that they are overworked and overexposed to COVID-19. They are in desperate need of more help, as ads plastered over social media social-media saying “Join Our Team” indicate, but ask yourself this: would you really want to work for $2500 a month while risking serious exposure to a terrible disease when you could stay home and earn $2000 a month? Countless Canadians are currently at home, able to work, but the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can hardly justify earning an extra $500 a month. There may be those who disagree, and that is entirely their judgement call to make, but I know personally that such an offer would not entice me towards applying.

These are essential employees, among countless others, who are facing the pandemic head-on and providing the best services they can at the time when we need them the most. And while praise and thanks are absolutely necessary (and thankfully being given out by millions of gracious Canadians), these people deserve more. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has proposed that the eligibility criteria be dropped for those applying to the CERB so that everyone who needs help will get access to the CERB (Campbell, 2020). His proposal included recently-graduated students, previously unemployed Canadians and people who earned less than the $5000 application minimum over the previous 12 months (Campbell, 2020). While I agree with all these above, I also believe that the CERB should be available to those who are still working. I think it is safe to say that those who are putting themselves on the frontlines of this pandemic everyday deserve more than just heartfelt thanks from Canadians; they deserve financial support during this time. Allowing a universal application for the CERB would provide every Canadian a hand up in this trying time while providing a financial incentive for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue being employed. Every Canadian would stay financially afloat, and those who can work would be incentivized to do so. While unquestionably costly to the Canadian government, it is a cost that would keep the economy going, help to build a stronger foundation for the post-COVID recovery and, most importantly, would help those who deserve it the most. 

Reference: 

Campbell, C. (April 11, 2020). Burnaby’s Jagmeet Singh demands Trudeau ‘scrap’ CERB criteria. Burnabynow. https://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-s-jagmeet-singh-demands-trudeau-scrap-cerb-criteria-1.24116538

P.C: kc0uvb