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Pandemic waves will create long lasting effect on our lives

Ron Walter writes about how the pandemic will affect society
Bizworld by Ron Walter

When the coronavirus pandemic began almost a year ago, leaders around the world suggested this would have run its course by year end with a possible second wave of illness after that.

How wrong they were! 

Nobody knew then and nobody knows now how long this virus will continue plaguing nations around the world.

One thing is certain. The virus will have deep and long lasting impacts on our lives and the economy.

A recent CIBC bank poll on retirement lifts the veil partially on the impact of this disease.

Four in 10 respondents said the pandemic has affected their retirement plans causing a changed vision of post-work life.

Almost one in three no longer plan on travel, or travelling as much as they had planned. Thirty per cent believe they will have to work longer than planned before retiring.

And 26 per cent believe the pandemic has increased the cost of retirement.

Of those who planned to downsize their houses, 40 per cent are unsure what to do.

This poll just shows the impact on retirement plans.

Another poll indicated 30 per cent of Canadians feel they won’t be able to make up losses in income from the pandemic.

This virus is having long-term health impacts on numerous people who get the disease, impacts that affect their ability to be productive and earn income.

Of course, there are structural impacts to the way we work and live from the increased work-from-home movement and the impact on the need for office space, to the explosion in online purchases and the higher demand for product fulfilment centres and delivery services.

The workplace and the marketplace, will never be the same.

Some estimates indicate up to one-third of office space will become unnecessary. The work-from-home increase has already affected real estate with buyers leaving large cities for smaller, safer centres and more lot space.     

Eventually this factor will impact overpriced real estate in large cities.

The pandemic has revealed weak spots in some industries, most notably in the labour-intensive sectors of farming and in food processing.

The inability to get immigrant workers cleared and into Canada on time caused many vegetable farmers to reduce plantings. Once the immigrant workers were here the poor, crowded housing conditions — a situation that has been a dirty little secret — exposed the workers to outbreaks of the virus.

Harvest was a similar situation.

Food processors, pork and beef plants, were forced to declare partial or full plant closures as workers came down en masse with the virus. Their response has been to try and automate the process.

Food retailers found ways to sanitize that should have been common before the outbreak.

Health care is another sector where the pandemic exposed weakness from not enough staff to underpaid staff to poor infection controls to weak inspection to use of part-time employees who can become infection spreaders.   

Undoubtedly, more weak spots will be exposed by the second and possible subsequent waves.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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