Reflecting on the inexplicable year that was 2020, it is impossible to succinctly sum up how the dramatic events of this year have impacted each one of us individually, and as a local, regional, national, and global society.
The year began with demonstrations for Indigenous rights across the country and surrounding the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. We have spent most of this year in not one, but two devastating public health emergencies: the COVID-19 global pandemic and the illicit drug poisoning and overdose crisis that has taken the lives of far too many and gone without adequate response for far too long. Just two months ago we were in the midst of an early provincial election. And this short list doesn’t even begin to cover all the events that have transformed our province.
In 2020, the lives of all of us have been turned upside down and much of what we used to take for granted has been called into question. Our ability to be with our loved ones, to travel, to go to work every day feeling safe.
All of us have been tested, but British Columbians have shown their resilience and their willingness to look out for and care for one another. In the past 8 months we have found gaps in service delivery, our public health system has been stretched, business owners have struggled to keep their doors open. Many have suffered from increasing isolation, while others have continued to go to work every day, putting their own health at risk to serve the needs of others.
As we turn the page on 2020 and prepare for what 2021 might bring, we have been given hope with the approval and roll-out of the first vaccine for COVID-19, but we know that there are still hard winter months ahead.
This is an important time to reflect on how interconnected we are and how we can continue to support each other.
One thing this pandemic has shown us is that governments at all levels have shown flexibility and a capacity to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Too often, governments are slow to react to needed change – they act simply because it’s the way they have always done things. It’s not often that we stop to consider whether it’s the most efficient, creative, or effective action that could be taken.
As we rebuild from this pandemic, we need a plan to rebuild our economy that doesn’t try to take us back to where we were a year ago. Instead, we need to recognize the urgent need to act on the climate crisis, to reduce inequality, and to build people’s wellbeing and quality of life more directly into how we organize our economy.
I think this year has taught us a lot about what’s really important, and the most important question of the coming year is whether we are going to learn from this pandemic or whether we will just try to get back to what we had this time last year. I am invested in moving forward.
Adam Olsen is the MLA Saanich North and the Islands.