It’s More than Just CERB…

Vaccination rates are climbing. Provinces are starting to reopen. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. And yet we are still stumbling to figure out what comes next it seems. This article in the Toronto Star caught my eye:

This sentiment is something I’ve seen pop up online in social media. The notion that CERB or the Canada Response Benefit is holding people back from returning to work. That those who are receiving the payment are inherently lazy and don’t want to work. The rebuttal is that, if receiving CRB is more appealing than returning to your work place, then you need to provide better working conditions. Which is a compelling argument I admit.
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We need COVID Passports

Canada is finally turning the corner on COVID-19. At last estimate we will have 66 million doses stocked in this country. We have enough to vaccinate our entire eligible population in this country. Furthermore we have an appetite for those vaccines. Canadians were proud to find out this week, that we surpassed the United States in vaccination rates. The majority of us are eager for these shots and have lined up or are lining up right now to get them.

I want to emphasise my wording above. The majority of us. Because that is a major distinction we need to look at going forward. The cases we are seeing of COVID-19 in Canada are predominantly amongst the unvaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy still exists in this country and it’s getting to the point where it is holding us back.

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The Tale of the Two-Dose Summer

Remember back in March how we were in the thick of this pandemic? Vaccines were just beginning to be introduced as the way out of this mess. The thread in the media was that this roll out was destined to be a disaster. All at the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Trudeau.

It was a theme driven by politicians:

The official Hansard from Nov 25, 2020, where Michelle Rempel CPC Health Critic states the claim that Canada will not be vaccinated until 2030.
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The Light at the End of the COVID Tunnel isn’t What it Seems…

It looks like we are turning the tide on the pandemic. Vaccination rates are climbing in this country. We are first for first doses in developed nations of the world. Second doses are starting to catch up.

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Take the damn shot!

In light of NACi’s complete mess of a communications plan yesterday I thought I’d chime in with my rudimentary experience. Last week I got my Astra Zeneca shot at a local pharmacy. Finding the shot was a mess in and of itself. A story for another time. However, as my typing out this piece can attest. I am well and fine.

So of course this was a surprise yesterday:

The only side effects I received from the Astra Zeneca vaccine was a bad case of the chills, night sweats and a mild fever. For about 24 hours I felt like I was in a pretty bad flu spell. Luckily the time passed and now I feel fine. I didn’t panic because I had educated myself on what doctors and scientists were saying. Expect some mild symptoms of COVID-19, and the risks of blot clots etc were minuscule. Doing the rudimentary math in my head I went and found a place o jab me int he arm. I don’t regret it for a second.

We have a way out of this pandemic. We have multiple vaccines available to us. Which means we don’t need to worry about one plant producing vaccines for all of us. Multiple sources means we should be able to get doses to everyone.

This isn’t the time to play vaccine favouritism. In the end they all protect us from COVID-19 and that’s what matters. If you get an opportunity to get a shot in your arm. Take it. Do your part, for all our sakes.

The weekend that changed Ontario

In one weekend rarely as the political landscape shifted so drastically for a government. For weeks, in Ontario, the third wave has rampaged through the population. In an effort to redeem it’s credibility the Ford government announced stricter measures to curb the spread. These included, closing of parks and playgrounds and allowing widespread carding of anyone ‘suspected’ of violating COVID-19 protocols. You could feel the a collective sigh as the majority of us came to realise this government is out of ideas.

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This is what a Canadian Rebellion looks like

The news of the day is of course, the Peel medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh invoking his authority to close schools for the next two weeks.

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The signs are there, the Ontario government is grasping at straws

I have said many many times on here, that the province’s communications on COVID-19 is just as vital as the vaccine. We need to know what to do and how to do it to keep ourselves save. Its a lesson our provincial government is still struggling to learn.

A few months ago, we were coming out of the second wave. Lockdown restrictions were being lifted and the hope was we’d be getting vaccinations soon to help prevent another situation from arising like we’d just experienced. I had hoped that lessons had been learned, that plans would’ve been adjusted to encourage behaviour that would prevent the need for a third lockdown.

It appears that is not to be the case.

In today’s episode of The 905er, we go off on the status quo in Ontario. Listen to it here:

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Did we Miss an Opportunity?

We are reminiscing on the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its natural to look at the lives lost, the jobs lost, and the upending of our lives due to this pandemic. However, there has been something that has been stuck in the back of my mind. Despite the losses we have all felt from this pandemic, I believe there is an opportunity presented to us. A chance to innovate and improve on the status quo.

Going into lockdown one year ago, left many industries and businesses forced to redesign long standing logistics and business models. While service and professional industries could realign into a virtual environment relatively easily, the retail and restaurant industries were forced to seriously rethink their models. The restaurant industry continues to struggle, mostly due to its nature of being a socially active endeavour. However I have noticed that retail locations in Canada are notoriously slow to adapt to change.

It is well known that Amazon has been making a killing due to COVID-19. If there was a company that was made to thrive during a global pandemic, Amazon seems to be it. The criticism of Amazon for building a monopoly in online retail is somewhat undeserved in my opinion. Amazon has simply foreseen the landscape of commerce and is capitalizing on the opportunity that COVID-19 has present it with. I ask, where are the competitors. More importantly, why aren’t they Canadian?

Currently, the biggest competitor to Amazon is Walmart. For years the American retail giant has been encouraging customers to purchase online, with a big component being their curbside pick up:

During the pandemic, Walmart has upped their game to expand their e-commerce platform into fully automated fulfillment centres. Much akin to Amazon’s testing the waters with their Amazon Go sites. Walmart recently announced a partnership with new Canadian start up Ghost Kitchen, expanding their ability to bring American Brands to the Canadian market. All of this bodes well for consumers, as major brands strive to accomodate our lifestyles as opposed to demanding we meet theirs. The pandemic has encouraged Amazon and Walmart, to embrace innovation and change in order to remain competitive in the market place.

This of course, raises the question of where is the great Canadian innovation? We are with our own well known Canadian brands of course, and yet when it comes to see what they are offering, we are left wanting. I look at who would be positioned to at least make the in roads to disrupt the old styles of shopping in Canada and the first options I come up with are Indigo and Loblaws.

Indigo already has a starting point to compete with Amazon. Both companies started out with selling books. Indigo has expanded their online retailing to offer some additional wares from their retail locations. Unfortunately that seems to be where the innovation ends. Anecdotally, my wife bought an online gift card for Christmas from Indigo. Unfortunately, there was a mix up and she had to return it. The refund was only put through a few weeks ago, after a needlessly frustrating encounter with their customer service department. Is this an apples to apples comparison, no, but it did indicate a difference in cultures between Walmart and Amazon and Indigo.

In the case of Loblaws, for a year now, curbside pickup has been synonymous with the retail experience. Major retailers that offer apps to place orders are common place. However, they do not charge fees. Shopping online at Fortinos, a subsidiary of Loblaws, comes with added fees for curbside pickup. I cannot say if these fees carry over to other Loblaws locations, as we not have any others in our community. However the argument that the fee is required for the cost of curbside is ludicrous. Call it what it is, a deterent to the service in order to drive traffic inside their stores, so that they can rely on good ol’ product placement to encourage shopping. This technique is antiquated and more harmful in the long run.

Where is the drive on the part of major Canadian brands to meet the consumer where they are currently? Curbside, mail order, and online shopping are no longer premium nice to haves in the retail landscape. Like it or not, COVID-19 has sped up the change that was already here. Online retailing is the future. The age of the brick and mortar store is dying. Make the effort to change and make the changes to encourage your customers to embrace the changes.

We need competition in the market place. Walmart and Amazon are not invulnerable to upstarts. Canadian brands are well placed to take on the challenge. The only thing holding them back is culture. Innovate and look forward, rather than wait for things to return to normal. Normal isn’t coming back. New habits have formed after a year. If retailers wish to thrive once pandemic restrictions are lifted, they need to be poised to run as soon the gun is triggered. If Canadian retailers are expecting a return to old, they will be sorely mistaken. Some things from this pandemic aren’t going away. One of them is increased use of online retail. Now is the time to get this right. Playing it safe will not be its own reward.

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