The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for individuals and businesses worldwide. In Canada, the pandemic has highlighted the stark contrast between poverty and wealth. This blog post follows the story of two individuals in Calgary who are experiencing vastly different realities.
Maria is a 30 something woman who represents many of the challenges faced by those who have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty during the pandemic. She used to work for a small engineering firm but due to budget cuts, her job was eliminated. When the government assistance (CERB) ran out, she found herself without a source of income. She spends her days walking around the city, trying to find odd jobs to pay for her next meal. She has also resorted to begging for money outside of supermarkets and pharmacies in Calgary's South West. As the city's poverty rate continues to climb, Maria's story is becoming all too common.
Although Calgary's economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, there are still jobs available in certain industries. For instance, the construction industry is experiencing a boom, with many new developments and infrastructure projects in the works. However, some of the work required in this industry may not be suitable for everyone. Maria, for example, is unable to do some of the physically demanding work required in construction due to her health conditions.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is Oliver (real name protected) who works in the oil and gas industry. Oliver is a senior executive in a large energy corporation that has seen record profits during the pandemic. Oliver has been with the company for over a decade and is now one of its top earners. He lives in a penthouse in downtown Calgary and drives a high-end sports car. He recently ate at Vintage Chophouse in Calgary, where a dinner for two comes in at $180 and wine is over $100 a bottle.
Oliver's lifestyle is a representation of other lifestyles of those doing well during these times. While some are struggling to make ends meet, others are living lives in a totally different spectrum. This highlights the growing gap between the rich and poor in Calgary. The pandemic has revealed deep-rooted societal issues that require immediate attention. It is time for individuals, businesses, and the government to come together and address this growing disparity. At least in Calgary, there are United States type situations starting to evolve, people asking for money in more and more places, the gap is becoming more and more obvious.
The Tale of Two Cities must not become the new normal. We must take action to ensure that everyone can have a fair shot at a fulfilling life.