As more British Columbians are vaccinated every day, communities are anticipating with cautious optimism that our province is beginning to turn the corner in the fight against COVID.
Although we are not out of the woods yet, now is the time to look forward to our recovery, recognize who has been hit hardest by the socioeconomic impacts of COVID, and figure out what we can do to make up those disparities.
It’s not just our communities that need support, but our businesses too. Ashcroft and the surrounding region is blessed with a wide array of small and independently-owned businesses, many of which have been severely impacted by the pandemic. We need to ensure they have ample time and opportunity to access the supports they need, which is why I was so glad our Official Opposition managed to hold government to account until they extended the Small and Medium-Sized Business Grant deadline to Aug. 31 after they initially planned to close it on March 31.
This pandemic has shed light on, and heightened, many of the inequities that still exist in our society, most notably the many challenges that women in our province and around the world still face. Many of our most female-dominated industries have been thrust into the frontline of the pandemic, including health care and social assistance (82.4 per cent women), education (69.3 per cent), and food and hospitality (58.5 per cent). Women have also experienced more job loss than men throughout the pandemic.
We need to re-evaluate the conditions that are creating these disparities and gender gaps and build the necessary supports to address them, so our province can not only recover from the pandemic, but provide greater opportunities for all.