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EDITORIAL: Shoulders to the wheel

A nurse speaks to members of the public outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) assessment centre in Ottawa on March 25.
A nurse speaks to members of the public outside a COVID-19 assessment centre in Ottawa on March 25. - Patrick Doyle

We're all in this together now, and later, we'll be in this together all over again.

As fears about COVID-19 close businesses, halt incomes and carve away revenue for many businesses that do stay open, the federal government and many of their provincial counterparts have opened the financial taps.

There's been money for people who have lost income (a work in progress that started registering Canadians Monday), plans for cash to businesses to help pay and keep employees by subsidizing wages, along with loans (in some instances forgivable) and other business support.

It's necessary. You can't simply stop the economy to protect people from the spread of disease and expect everything to remain as normal. More money, in fact, might be needed, and programs that have had to be developed on the fly may need to be changed to encompass more people and businesses that were missed at first.

All of it costs money, a lot of money. And, in these unprecedented times, that money's coming from an unusual place. The Bank of Canada is essentially printing money to buy Government of Canada bonds that will backstop the current financial outlay.

It's the kind of circular financing that doesn't exactly work for the average homeowner's budget. But desperate times need desperate solutions, and even the staunchest of small-government, anti-spending economic think-tanks agree the money's needed now.

All of this is to point out that, while the government is providing necessary aid, that aid isn't bottomless, nor is the funding magically appearing from a grove of money trees the government hasn't revealed it's been nurturing somewhere.

The stakes won't be as life-threatening, but it will still require all of us to work together.

Right now, if you have a friend or neighbour who is self-isolating to keep from possibly bringing COVID-19 to your province, you probably wouldn't think twice about offering to pick up groceries for them.

If you were sitting there in your clapped-out sedan stuck in the snow and heading for the hospital with a sick child in a car seat in the back, you'd hope someone was going to put down their shovel and walk down their driveway and push you.

And, most likely, they would.

So, when the time comes that we have to put our shoulders to the wheel and push this fiscal car out of the financial ditch and back onto the road, don't say you can't do it or won't do it or don't feel like doing it. Maybe even put the cap on complaining about it.

This crisis is showing that we have to work together. That we do it together.

When the time comes, whether it's with the virus now or with the economic fallout later, be ready to push.

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