This is the start of an important month. The period where anxious Island businesses reopen with the same nervous enthusiasm as might be expected just after a December 17th winter storm. Uncertain expectations as the streets continue to be cleared.
Even with the pent-up energy of Islanders, can we expect rapid adaption of expected spending as they adapt to the consumption social experimentation. By July 15th we will know if the attempt has been successful to sustain local business or was it a deferral of continued damage. On balance, I am confident the experiment will be a success!
This week the province projected unemployment figures for the month of May. The untold story here is that one-third of the productive population was deemed to be unemployed. This is in addition to the employees enrolled in the appropriately generous Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, over 1.7 million workers participating across Canada.
I would expect as much as fifty per cent of the Island workforce is technically under some employment constraint, affecting the power of consumption compulsion. I think Islanders will spend. We will measure the results in the Fall; about the same time as viral resurgence, and then the impact to business continuity will be clear, as employment benefits expire (or next greatest economic challenge).
The former economy will not return without a vaccine. Never before have so many great minds, industries and governments been singularly focused on a project. The level of energy channeled on a common task is without precedent. We have thirteen company’s advancing their solutions and scheduled for human trials. Developing a vaccine is traditionally a four to five-year project, optimistically suggested this could be accelerated to eighteen to twenty-four months.
Could a vaccine be accepted by years end, yes. We have baseline experience with SARS and MERS. We have the best scientific minds committed to this task; we have acceleration through artificial intelligence; we have the possibilities of human ingenuity.
We will have a vaccine; we will protect citizens in a methodological way as production process ramps up. We will be back to normal; we just need to adapt until this time next year.
But today, we need an economic imagination plan, and not armchair epidemiologists . We need the demonstrated leadership our community demands. We need clarity on where we are going and how we will get there. We need ‘convention destruction, and innovative rebirth’. Every element of our societal and economic structures needs to be redesigned.
What we have always done, will not work in the short run. Our societal structures need to transform. Balance of employment, labour, family, society, and community need to calibrate a new plateau from which a restart can be redesigned. We can envision our reality; or we can wait for another jurisdiction to direct us. I am of the mind we have the capacity on the Island to chart our own course.
Government can’t provide this – we must assert our own definition. We should not wait for a committee to be struck and report – this is not a government challenge which can be administered. We need to stretch beyond political constraints; and we need to move more quickly. Time should be measured in days, not months. ‘Rapid adaptation and reformative mutation’ needs to occur at the speed of business. This is our opportunity, if we can seize upon it.