330 V O L . 7 9 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 2 1 THE ADVOCATE
Many of us were and remain deeply grateful to health care and long-term
care workers, grocery store clerks, cleaners, teachers, public transit employees,
food service workers, couriers and postal workers, and many others
who allowed our society to function through the pandemic. Their work outside
the home allowed our own experiences to be not as bad as they could
However, the people to whom we are grateful were typically paid far less
for work that was, or felt, far less safe than ours. While as the pandemic
raged some of us worked from home—quite appropriately, of course, in
accordance with public health guidance—in residences that typically range
from decent to very nice, those who were the most responsible for keeping
our society going did not have a choice of staying home at all. Outside their
homes, they faced a world of potentially contagious, and sometimes disgruntled,
customers, commuters and colleagues.
On an individual level, there was not much to be done to express our gratitude
other than to say “thank you” where interaction occurred, to applaud
health care workers, and to leave tips or gifts in the limited circumstances
where actually feasible. We could not even physically stand alongside them
in a sign of solidarity or shake their hands in the perverse world of COVID-19,
where physical proximity was potentially harmful, not helpful.
All of what we have said above involves generalizations, of course.
Though we expect this resonates with a significant number of you, readers
all have their own individual circumstances. Some of you are among those
who had to be out and about through the pandemic, or had close family
members who were. Some of you continue to experience hardships that
were economic, or would gladly trade some of your financial success if
other burdens or tragedies you experience could be erased. For some of
you, your homes are places of tension or jeopardy, rather than refuge. This
pandemic has been harrowing for many.
It is also fair to note that even the most affluent among us are nowhere
close to the very top of the economic scale. Any restoration of fortune that
we have experienced, even collectively, pales in comparison to the good
fortune of most of the world’s billionaires whose fortunes almost uniformly
soared during the pandemic.1 This was also the case for billionaires in
Canada.2 The gap in dollars between the well-to-do among us and worse-off
Canadians is dwarfed by even broader gaps where we too are, in terms of
resources, Lilliputians against the giants of Brobdingnag.
This said, many of us do have at least one thing more in common with
the billionaires than with many of our fellow citizens. Once we reach the
point of being sufficiently comfortable not to need to worry, or worry too