OHS Canada Magazine

Living through a pandemic

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June 1, 2020
By Marcel Vander Wier

Health & Safety Human Resources COVID-19 Editorial OHS Canada Pandemic

COVID-19 has turned all of our lives upside-down

From a full-blown panic in March to a national lockdown through April, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside-down, writes Marcel Vander Wier. (zoranm/Getty Images)


What a time to be alive.

At time of writing, Torontorians have been living the quarantine life for 11 weeks. And while we and other Ontario citizens remain under fairly strict social-lockdown procedure, it is with great hope that we watch other provinces and territories begin the cautious process of reopening.

I can speak for all Canadians in saying we will never forget these past few months. From a full-blown panic in March to a national lockdown through April, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside-down.

Professionally, it has been a blur.


On March 12, shortly after the NBA lockdown was announced, OHS Canada’s website traffic exploded as employers and safety pros around the nation began looking for the answers to a pandemic very few saw coming. Over the next weeks and months, the news came fast and furious and we worked hard to keep our readership up to date.

This all happened as our parent company, Annex Business Media, quickly deployed a work-from-home solution that gave the majority of our staff the opportunity to continue business from our home offices. It’s been interesting and memorable times watching my wife teach her Grade 6 class via Zoom, and splitting the duty of helping my son finish out his year in senior kindergarten.

Like all of you, my family has endured a roller-coaster of emotions through this incredible time. So far, we’ve managed to hang on through the difficulties of self-isolation, and have found increased joy in the simple pleasures such as eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together as a family. We have maintained our health through the pandemic, and are grateful and thankful for that.

Saluting those who helped

Not everyone has been so fortunate.

By late May, COVID-related deaths in Canada had surpassed 6,000, and the situation in certain long-term care homes appeared to be downright frightening. But Canadians are a resilient bunch, and have — mostly — remained cooperative in enduring this challenge together.

Stories in our May/June issue detail the work of organizations and OH&S professionals who helped Canada battle back against a global pandemic. To those who shifted operations to assist in building much-needed personal protective equipment, and those who worked day and night to ensure your workers were safe — you are the ones we salute.

To all health and safety workers, government leaders and essential employees who continue to serve on the front lines — thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for your service and bravery.

This pandemic landed unexpectedly on the world’s doorstep. Thank you for helping to push it back.

For the occupational health and safety profession, the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be a watershed moment. Workplace safety is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 conversation all across Canada.

For those who know the annual statistics of injury and death for Canadian workers, let’s hope safety remains on the forefront of our discussions in the years to come.

This editorial was published in the May/June 2020 issue of OHS Canada.


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