As 2020 comes to an end, the events of the year (or lack thereof) all seem to blur together. Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River looks back at this year as undoubtedly the Year of COVID.
“It’s kind of taken over our lives,” Powlowski said. “From interrupting the sports that we want to watch to who we can get together with, whether we can go sit down at a bar and chat with whomever.”
Powlowski said the pandemic has put other issues on the back burner because of the need to use federal financial resources to help businesses and those that were unemployed as a result of COVID-19.
Along with unresolved issues, new ones have risen in light of the pandemic and one that has greatly affected northwestern Ontario is the border closure.
The tourism industry relies heavily on American tourists which make up a large sum of the tourists in northwestern Ontario. Their absence has been greatly felt without them, resulting in many businesses taking a hit, he said.
Powlowski said he acknowledges that businesses have been affected by the pandemic, some more so than others, and in an attempt to provide assistance for those who are in most need there have been programs implemented by the government.
“It certainly hasn’t removed all the inequalities,” Powlowski said. “A lot of businesses have been a lot more severely affected than others and for those, my condolences, and we certainly acknowledge their pain.”
Some of the most recent initiatives announced this year by the provincial and federal government include the Universal Broadband Fund, infrastructure funding to rehabilitate much needed roads and sewage lines, funding to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic statement to name a few.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world stand still and this is probably the first year that many people have spent so much time at home which Powlowski said allowed people to realize the importance of a work-life balance.
“Having more time to be with your family, at home, more time to the to go for a walk or to take your canoe out I think is an important thing in life, having the time to do the things you want to do and to be with the people you want to be with,” Powlowski said.
Despite a less than ideal 2020, Powlowski said that he is hopeful for 2021 and that there are a ‘few more little pushes to go’ but that we are close to the finish line.
Powlowski said he hopes that with the vaccines rolling out that the borders will open up for many of the Americans that come up for the summer to fish or hunt.
“I think that that is really going to be what helps the tourism operators and the people most affected,” Powlowski said.
Powlowski said that at the moment, the government is focussing on trying to recover from the pandemic in the coming months.
“So hold on, stay to yourself, and stay at home,” Powlowski said.