The Echo Pandemic(s)
Hey passengers, Sarah here (@sarahkrichel). Lately, the hours of my day between work and leisure have severely blurred, as both are spent on screens. Apparently that’s bad for your mental health? If you’re feeling this way, you aren’t the only one.
We’ll tackle that in today’s newsletter, as well as: a federal judge turning down the youth-led climate inaction legal suit; the migrant caregivers being separated from families and forced to live with their employers; where food couriers are headed on their way to labour justice amid the pandemic.
Your COVID-Related Depression Is Valid. We Need To Talk About The Echo Pandemic Of Mental Illness
Since the start of the pandemic, we were warned an echo one would be coming. Now, a recent Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) report found that COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on the mental health of Canadians.
“The overall health of the population has deteriorated over the last eight months, with more people turning to drugs, alcohol, tobacco and screen time over physical exercise to cope with the stress,” reports the CBC.
The impact of the mental health echo pandemic is most apparent in Canada’s ongoing overdose crisis.
Via the CBC: PHAC heard from frontline workers who said that, because of social restrictions, many more people have been using opioids alone, “decreasing the chance of intervention if they overdose and contributing to the increase in overdose-related fatalities.”
This has been especially destructive because COVID-related travel and border restrictions have caused local opioid supplies to grow more toxic and dangerous.
Canadians are also turning to alcohol, cannabis and tobacco. By early summer, the CBC reports, alcohol consumption, cannabis use and smoking were up 19 per cent, 8.3 per cent, and 3.9 per cent respectively.
Indigenous people, people with disabilities and low-income Canadians have also reported having more suicidal thoughts since the pandemic began.
These massive and seemingly unsolvable problems need more than a mental health fund or an extra four counsellors hired at for-profit universities. As Kelly Tatham, a Green MLA candidate in the B.C. election, wrote for The Tyee regarding homelessness, “It’s true the symptoms are complicated, but the root of the problem is not complicated. It’s simple: colonialism.”
Really, this applies to all things, and our solutions should channel that.
- A federal court turned down a legal case launched by 15 young people in 2019 calling on Ottawa to develop a plan based on science to tackle the existential threat of climate change.
- Federal Court Justice Michael Manson said the case doesn’t have probable cause for success and therefore dismissed it from proceeding to trial.
- Via the CBC: [A] plaintiff named Sophia said that it is “a big wake-up call for all Canadian and Indigenous youth. Canada has tried to silence our voice in court and block our calls for climate justice. We won’t be dissuaded.”
Migrant Caregivers Are Working Unpaid, Forced To Live With Bosses 24/7
- Migrant caregivers in Canada have remained separated from their families as per the orders of their employers who prohibit leaving the home out of fear of COVID-19, according to a new survey of 200 caregivers by a coalition of advocacy groups. As a result, caregivers are forced to live with their employers.
- Via Vice: “I cannot go home to my family, I cannot meet them, I cannot do shopping with them. [The employer allows] me to go outside just for a walk, but not far from the house,” said [Rachel, a domestic caregiver from the Philippines].
- The report also says some migrant caregivers are working double the hours they’re paid for, on average accruing around $6,550 in unpaid wages in six months, which has resulted in “deepening isolation and anxiety.” Calling on the feds to immediately grant permanent residency is “the single most important change” to ensure they can protect themselves against labour exploitation, says the report.
- Via the Star: Caregivers’ ability to leave abusive workplaces is now more limited than ever. Increased delays in processing permanent residency applications mean many workers on restricted work permits remain tied to a single employer — and risk their access to health care and income support if they leave their job.
Like so many other systemic issues that impact the most marginalized — these issues are not new, but have just been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Back in January 2019, Briarpatch Magazine reports, the fire of collective action to get food couriers unionized was ignited. While Foodora couriers were successfully voted as eligible to unionize in February this year, couriers are hardly working in perfect conditions amid the pandemic.
Briarpatch interviewed five couriers, discussing a range of things including being misclassified as “independent contractors,” not being eligible for CERB, the dilemma of work and exposure, and the isolating feeling of zero-interaction delivery.
- “Being classified as an ‘essential’ worker during the pandemic felt like a betrayal. Members of government [spoke] about not wanting gig workers to fall [through] the cracks, while we went to work without any PPE [personal protective equipment] and no investment from our employers or local government to obtain any. Many did not qualify for CERB because of their immigration status while also not making enough money due to fewer shifts, lower tips, or not enough work.” — Jennifer Scott, longtime bike courier and organizer with Foodsters United
You can read the full range of interviews here.
That’s a wrap on Passage Daily. Did you walk your dog?