The Canadian federal debt is expected to top $1.2 trillion as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the economy. (Stock photo)

EDITORIAL: Counting the costs of a pandemic

As COVID-19 continues, Canada’s debt and deficit are growing while credit rating drops

Forecasts from the federal government predict close to two million Canadians without jobs and a federal deficit of $343.2 billion.

Canada’s debt is also growing and is predicted to top $1.2 trillion by the end of the fiscal year.

And Fitch Ratings recently downgraded Canada’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.

These bleak economic conditions come as a result of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early into the pandemic, the federal government responded quickly with numerous assistance programs for individuals and businesses affected by the shutdowns.

Many have received payments under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Others have received other forms of assistance from the federal government. The payments have made a difference for many who would have otherwise been struggling financially, especially in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Providing little or nothing in the way of assistance might have taken pressure off the federal government, but such a choice would have pushed huge numbers of Canadians into financial stress.

The question to ask now is what happens next.

Under the best-case scenario, if a vaccine or a cure were suddenly developed, it would be possible for the Canadian economy to rebound and for those now receiving the benefits to return to work. But the federal government would still need to address the debt and deficit.

Money woes do not simply vanish on their own. If the pandemic continues for another year or two, or if a second wave were to develop, the effects would be much worse.

With an increased debt load and a downgraded credit rating, it could become difficult for the federal government to acquire the money necessary to cope with the costs of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

At this point, there is no value in pointing fingers or in asking whether the federal government should have taken a different approach in its response to this pandemic.

The more important question is how to respond from here. This is a difficult question since nobody knows how long this pandemic will continue or whether a second wave will result in another massive shutdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many in Canada.

The costs of coping with this pandemic will be felt for many years to come.

CoronavirusEditorialsfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

Vessels once transported passengers and goods along the Okanagan Valley

Fires ignite on Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie; Kamloops Fire Centre blazes holding

Crews working throughout region over holiday weekend to contain wildfires

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Solco Creek fire east of Okanagan Falls grows to nearly 14 hectares

Both fires were under two hectares in size as of Thursday night, neither threatening structures

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Wildfire burning out of control at Dry Lake near Princeton

Hot, dry conditions affecting containment efforts

Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association: Who can’t access your business?

TOTA launches video to encourage proprietors to remove barriers

Shuswap pet nutritionist, raw diet advocate to be featured in national magazine

Sicamous-based Deanna Larocque building reputation for canine support

BC RCMP notify IIO BC of incident involving police dog in Kelowna

A suspect and a police dog were taken to receive medical treatment after an incident on Aug. 1.

Alberta man presumed to have drowned after cliff jumping in Peachland

Emergency responders began rescue efforts at around 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Most Read