Building Back Better

Written by: Paul Young, Environmental Health Promoter

We are part of the earth’s connected system and on April 22, we celebrated Earth Day in order to raise awareness about how our health depends on clean air, water and soil. SRCHC remembers its past battles to reduce pollution and make South Riverdale a healthier community. However, we still need to work on reconnecting with the planet. Both the United Nations and World Health Organization found that pandemics result from the destruction of nature, including livestock production and illegal forestry. Human health relies on the health of the planet.

Covid-19 has taught us many hard lessons. We learned that lower income groups suffer more deaths and sickness from Covid-19 than other, more well-off groups. Factory, frontline and service sector workers are especially vulnerable. And we learned that governments make a huge difference in pandemic recovery. For example, New Zealand has been back to normal since May of last year.

In Canada, governments introduced unique initiatives like basic income programs, quick-start housing/shelter projects, and expanded networks for walking and cycling. The importance of parks and streets to physical and mental health, especially for people living in apartments, became more obvious. Advocates had asked for these changes for many years and now we see how quickly governments can respond in a crisis. It’s important to let decision makers know that these changes are worth keeping and expanding in order to keep people healthy, housed and independent. We need to “build back better” with a “just recovery.” We can’t solve our problems by repeating the same mistakes of the past.