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COVID-19 changes everything

The pandemic is moving the Overton's Window

Trish Hennessy


I had a COVID-19 dream, where I was trapped in a sprawling resort crammed with people desperate to escape the virus.


In my dream, I was on the run. I sprinted past a buffet of cakes and custard pies as diners gorged themselves. I broke through crowds of people and escaped by way of waterslides, which deposited me into a dark, empty hallway that led me to a hospital ward filled with crying children.


I have not contracted COVID-19, but the idea of this virus has infected my thoughts, both day and night. Maybe it has for you, too—trailing us when we go to the grocery store, as we adjust our idea of household necessities, as we worry about loved ones and already see too many “rest in peace” tributes on our news feed.


April is proving to be a cruel month. Within the blink of an eye, life as we knew it has been upturned. While we all crave a return to normalcy, there are some things that will have been forever altered. The loss of loved ones; the inability of many small businesses to survive the downturn; the debt incurred by loss of income.


I’m thinking about how the Overton window is shifting on so many facets of our lives here in Canada. Maybe some of it is only temporary. Maybe it’s not. But here are some initial observations:


The cult of individualism is giving way to social solidarity as most of us stay indoors to protect ourselves and others from viral spread.


Consumerism is mutating as markets shut down and the grocery store becomes the new retail epicentre.


Public health is suddenly appreciated for what it always has been: essential to a functioning economy—are we entering a post-austerity world where funding for public health takes top priority?


COVID-19 is changing the political narrative, de-centring the economy and re-centring the public good.


Yes, there are still divisive political voices but, increasingly, they’re coming across as tone-deaf. Yes, there are still people disregarding the advice to stay home and physical distance, but polling is showing they’re in the minority.


Here at Think Upstream, we’re monitoring all of the health, social, economic, and political developments in the age of COVID-19 and I’ll be weighing in on this more deeply in the weeks and months to come.


We are also acutely aware that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion, so we are cutting through falsehoods and bringing you tips and information based on expert advice and research. Scientific knowledge about COVID-19 is also in flux, so as expert knowledge changes, we’ll share that with you too—thanks to support from the Government of Canada.


We’re also partnering with our friends at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) to bring timely analysis on a broad range of COVID-19 related issues. Below, I’ve included a roundup of Upstream’s latest COVID-19 news and a CCPA round up.

Upstream's latest on COVID-19

CCPA's latest on COVID-19 and its implications

Trish Hennessy is a senior communications strategist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the director of Think Upstream

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Think Upstream is a project of CCPA

All materials © 2023 Think Upstream/CCPA.