Media release: COVID-19 confirms need to transform Nova Scotia’s social safety net

May 21, 2020

K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) — In a new report released today, Are you with us? COVID-19 confirms the need to transform Nova Scotia’s social safety netauthors Tammy Findlay, Christine Saulnier and Alec Stratford provide evidence that the pandemic has proven just how fragile our current social systems are and why we must fundamentally shift our political and economic system to become a sustainable, fair, and just province.

On March 11, the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and 11 days before a state of emergency was declared in Nova Scotia, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) released a social policy framework for Nova Scotia, in partnership with the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. The new report applies this framework to understand the impact COVID-19 has had so far on Nova Scotia and to outline how we can construct the road forward.  

“Our governments have not done enough to provide a social safety net that supports our collective well-being in the best of times, but especially in the worst of times. This is the worst of times and the requirements for social isolation means that we likely don’t even know the full impact. What we do know is that those who were struggling before are struggling now, and are joined by others,” says co-author Alec Stratford, Executive Director/Registrar of the College. 

As Stratford adds, “Let’s take the opportunity to urgently plug the holes in the social safety net and shift to a better place. Everyone should be supported to live, work, and age in security, enjoy good health and participate fully in society, throughout their life span.”

Social policy expert, co-author Dr. Tammy Findlay, Associate Professor and Chair of Political and Canadian Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, said this of what’s happening in Nova Scotia, “The tragedy unfolding at Northwood must be a wake-up call. Our long term care facilities have been underfunded, both when it comes to adequate staffing and infrastructure. Long term care must become part of our publicly funded universal health care system.” 

Findlay goes on to say, “But, that is just a part of what needs to happen—the state of long term care is also related to the state of home care, and the broader preventative and primary care services as well as curative hospital-based health care. The need for adequately funded universal public services is key to the recovery.”

Co-author and Director of CCPA-NS, Christine Saulnier believes, “What the pandemic has revealed is that returning to normal means continuing to leave many people behind. In order to support the economic recovery, we need public investment in social infrastructure including child care, and in green jobs and those that strengthen who we are collectively.”

Saulnier adds, “We must demand that our governments take a lead and that they do things differently. The worst-case scenario would be for our provincial government to double-down on austerity, to focus on balancing the budget at all costs and allow these gaps in our safety net to get even larger.”

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For more information, contact Christine Saulnier, 902-240-0926 (cell) or christine@policyalternatives.ca.

Are you with us? COVID-19 confirms the need to transform Nova Scotia’s social safety net by Tammy Findlay, Christine Saulnier and Alec Stratford, can be downloaded at: www.policyalternatives.ca.

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