Photo from before the pandemic. Credit: Jerry Donhal [ID: A sign sitting in a bush reads “Human Needs before corporate greed”]
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest global crises of the century. In many ways, this pandemic has lifted the veil on the social inequities that have existed for a long time — with some of the most vulnerable people being the most at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods.
The choices that we make today will shape our society, economy, health, and climate for decades to come. That’s why it’s as important as ever to demand justice during this crisis.
Our activism might look different than it usually does, but we must act nonetheless. Together we can ensure that justice is front and centre as we respond to COVID-19, and work towards repairing and rebuilding our world and economy after the pandemic ends.
1. Demand a moratorium on rent, mortgage, and bills before April 1st.
With more people sick or out of work every day, there is widespread anxiety as April 1st rapidly approaches. Despite some relief offered to people who are out of work by the federal and provincial governments, millions of people across the country are living in fear that they will lose their housing in the middle of a pandemic. Sign this petition hosted by our friends at LeadNow to demand that the government halt all rent, mortgage, and utility bills until the pandemic is over.
Already, over 60,000 people have signed their name, and our friends at LeadNow plan to digitally deliver these names to the government on Monday. You can also fight for a rent moratorium by calling your Member of Parliament (find their number here). If your workplace is unionized, consider calling on your union to make a public statement in support of this — like this one from BCGEU.
2. Demand that COVID-19 response leaves no one behind.
Migrant, poor, and racialized communities are already facing the biggest barriers to response measures, even though their health and jobs are most at risk.
Sign this petition hosted by the Migrant Rights Network to call for a collective response that leaves no one behind, including migrant workers, undocumented people, low-waged students, poor people, and refugees. That means healthcare for all, worker protections, no migrant detentions or deportations, and supporting vulnerable communities. Calls for justice for incarcerated and detained people have been echoed worldwide. The Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project is currently leading the campaign to contain COVID-19 and not people — sign their letter here.
3. Stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders.
Even in the middle of a pandemic, construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline is continuing business as usual without the consent of Wet’suwet’en land defenders. In fact, TC Energy is sending in more workers to site everyday. This increases the health risk for Indigenous communities close to the construction sites and it is unacceptable. Follow the instructions in this Instagram post by Tapioca Starch to call on Coastal GasLink to put an end to man camps during the pandemic.
We can also take action in this moment to stop the flow of money to this destructive fracked gas pipeline. KKR — an NYC private equity firm — is planning to purchase 65% of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Tell KKR to divest from the Coastal GasLink project. Export Development Canada, a crown corporation, is also considering lending millions to this project. Tell EDC that public money should never go to a pipeline that doesn’t have Indigenous consent.
4. Demand investment in our communities during the COVID-19 crisis and a just transition as we come out of it.
The last thing that we need right now is billions of dollars of taxpayer money going towards corporations. People across the country are struggling to stay afloat in this crisis and it’s critical for the government to center people over corporations. Sign our petition to demand that the federal government reject a bailout for Big Oil and invest in people instead.
We must center justice as we recover from this pandemic and a commitment from governments around the world to build a better future. That’s why tens of thousands of people, organizations, and groups around the world are standing behind these 5 principles of a just recovery at all levels of response:
- Put people’s health first, no exceptions.
- Provide economic relief directly to the people.
- Help our workers and communities, not corporate executives
- Create resilience for future crises.
- Build solidarity and community across borders — do not empower authoritarians.
5. Practice community care.
Doubling down on individualism will only make this crisis worse for people who are most vulnerable. That’s why we can’t just demand justice in this moment, we must all practice it by participating in community care.
All across the world, people are responding to this pandemic with radical acts of kindness. People are buying groceries for complete strangers. Chefs are delivering free meals in their cities. Therapists are offering free online services. Artists are holding digital concerts. There is so much we can do in this moment to hold our community members up. Here are some of our suggestions for practicing community care:
- First and foremost, take social distancing seriously.
- Thank essential service providers in healthcare, grocery stores, transit, and cleaning staff. Here’s one way to do it.
- Join a response network where people are requesting or offering support. Hundreds of response networks have emerged in cities and towns. Find a response network near you.
- Learn more about how to form a neighbourhood pod, check out this “how-to presention” and toolkit.
- If you can work from home, do so. Use CUPE’s step by step guide to refusing unsafe work to advocate for yourself if your employer does not comply. Check out this brilliant e-book by Daniel Hunter and Jeanne Rewa about leading online courses, meetings, trainings, and events during the pandemic. Here are some tips for working from home.
- Support artists whose livelihoods are threatened by canceled gigs.
- Donate to support some amazing groups offering frontline services. Donate to COVID response in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside or contribute to the Black Emergency Support Fund.
- Only share information from reputable sources. Please double check your sources before sharing them within your networks. Here are some of the resources we recommend:
→ Review Canada Public Health Updates for the most up-to-date scientific recommendations and COVID-19 cases in Canada
→ Read the Employment and Social Development Canada Updates for the latest information about financial support from the federal government.
→ How to apply for Benefit Insurance a guide compiled by Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management, Carleton University.
→ Check out this comprehensive List of Community Care & COVID resources compiled by Simran Dhunna