It's Sunday. Here are some updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts on us here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, that I would like to bring to your attention.
The Government of Canada has issued a Global Travel Advisory. Canadians are strongly advised to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. Canadians who are already abroad are advised to return to Canada before travel options for their return become limited. You can read the full text of the Global Travel Advisory here.
Please avoid panic buying. It's unnecessary and it hurts the most vulnerable people in our community - seniors and low income people. It's fine to ensure that you have a week or two worth of groceries, but what we're seeing out there in the community goes way beyond this. It's a vicious cycle, as people post images online of empty shelves in grocery stores others begin to panic and believe they need to stockpile more than necessary, and so it continues. I have friends who work in the grocery business. Most grocery stores do not have a ton of storage space "in the back". That makes sense when you think about it, because retail space is expensive, so they utilize as much of it as possible for sales. Grocery stores restock through deliveries from their warehouses and suppliers throughout the week. Those deliveries have not been interrupted, but the size of those deliveries may have been a little insufficient this week because stock orders are based on projected demand. No one predicted the volume of buying that occurred at the end of last week, and unfortunately that lead to fear of scarcity and more panic buying.
The Retail Council of Canada, which represents our largest grocery chains, has issued assurances that warehouses across the country are fully stocked and stores are being replenished. I hope this helps to reassure you.
It's good to see that some online sales platforms are finally cracking down on sellers who are profiteering from the pandemic. The hoarding of critical supplies is a serious problem. Much of the vitriol online has been directed at individuals trying to make a buck, but it's important to remember that the big players have been enabling them, and making serious profits in the process. Both of these types of profiteering are wrong.
I received a message from a constituent who is legally blind. I would like to share with you:
"Hi Paul, I hope you are safe. I wanted to see if you could consider legislation similar to the US in which people cant mass bulk buyout essential goods to resell online at a massive mark up during a crisis. Its affecting people with disabilities the most because then they cannot protect themselves. I personally use my hands to see and so I have to touch things everywhere I go to navigate my world. My partner has a compromised immune system and asthma so they have a higher risk of death from COVID19. I think this is something all parties could work towards."
I agree that Canada needs legislation to curtail this type of profiteering, and I am prepared to bring this up with federal ministers and in the House of Commons, when it reconvenes. Most people do not engage in hoarding and profiteering, but those who do, and the platforms that enable them, need to be curtailed. Not only for our own good, but as global good citizens.
It's not just for sick people. It's important to understand what social distancing is and why its essential right now. Here in our region social distancing is actually even more important. We have a large population of seniors in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. That means we have a more vulnerable population. People with no symptoms can carry the virus. So your choices and your actions matter. Please choose to practice social distancing. Your own life may not be at risk, but your actions can save someone else's life.