If there is one prediction to make from the COVID-19 pandemic, health care will be a major issue for Canadians for years to come, writes Jack Mintz in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Jack Mintz, September 27, 2021
The pandemic turned out to be a significant factor during the federal election, affecting ballot processing, campaign operations and policy stances. As polls have shown, the election has been divisive, reflecting the pandemic’s uneven impact on population health and the economy. Rather than pulling together to defeat the virus, Canadians were pitted against each other on a regional and rural/urban basis: “Divided we stand.”
Less appreciated but maybe even more serious is the opening of political scars that cause voters to lose trust in governments, leaders and election integrity. The damage could be long lasting, especially with pandemic policies themselves having become even more politicized because of this unneeded federal election.
Major calamities can influence voters’ confidence in experts, markets, governments and medical professionals, especially among people 18 to 25 years of age, who are at an impressionable stage of life. Some international studies have found that the 2008 recession undermined young voters’ trust in markets, shifting opinion to the left for at least a decade. Citizens who experience war early in life support strong national defence in later years. People raised under repression tend to withhold their views and mistrust political leaders altogether, even after repression is lifted or they move elsewhere.
Pandemics also mould 18-25-year-olds’ perceptions. The Ebola that ripped through some African countries a decade ago led to stronger support for central governments in countries where policy interventions were successful in curbing the epidemic. The 1918 Spanish flu led to social mistrust among those who survived a high incidence of the disease in their community. Mistrust of scientific experts also arises when information is inconsistently communicated, as we have seen with current debates over in-person schooling.