It will be years before we know the full impact of the COVID-19 catastrophe, but after a year we can see some winners and losers emerge.
Winner: Streaming television.
Netflix, Amazon Plus, Disney+, Apple+, Acorn, even CBC Gem (required Canadian content for this column) have come to the rescue during these dark days. If it hadn’t been for the virus lockdown, how would we ever become obsessed with the Tiger King? (OK, maybe that’s not such a good thing.)
Loser: Network TV.
Queen Latifah kicking ass as The Equalizer? Seriously? Is that the best they can do?
Oh, they’re still making movies, just not movies people are willing to pay to watch. With movie theatres shuttered, the films that support the entire industry, like the umpteen iteration of the Avengers franchise (“Avengers: What, again?”), are on hold. A James Bond movie, No Time To Die, has been sitting on the shelf for more than a year. As a result, the best picture nominations for the 2021 Oscars are made up of Netflix movies and art-house fare seen only by pontificating, beard-stroking critics. Please, I need some brain-dead entertainment!
With nothing to spend money on and more time to spend on the computer, the online investment broker Questrade is having a banner year, despite their extraordinarily sanctimonious commercials. You, too, can be rich! And it’s so-o-o-o easy!
Losers: Questrade users.
“Why did I invest in Amalgamated Spats?”
Winners: Minimum wage workers.
A recent Statistics Canada report says Canadians gained thousands of dollars more from COVID-19 support payments than they lost in wages. It’s the next best thing to living in Sweden. Also, retail employees have been elevated to hero status for keeping our shelves stocked with essentials, like toilet paper.
Leaked government documents revealed that 40,000 15-year-olds got the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, totalling $81.2 million. Another 92,000 16-year-olds got nearly $186 million and more than 184,000 17-year-olds got $369 million. Beats the hell out of babysitting.
If I was a high school kid, this would have been the happiest year of my life. But for kids who actually like high school, this has been a disaster. No drunken house parties. No clumsy sexual encounters in the back seat of your dad’s Toyota. No stuffing scrawny losers into their lockers. Oh, yeah, and the education thing.
Winner: Big pharma.
Give them their due: these mega-corporations – so necessary, so frequently avaricious – really came through for the world with their miracle vaccines.
Loser: Little pharma.
Smaller pharmaceutical companies around the country begged the federal government for help in developing vaccines, only to get the run-around. And you wonder why we don’t have a homegrown industry?
Winners: Infectious disease doctors. A year ago, we didn’t even know such doctors existed. Now, they’re rock stars.
Losers: Podiatrists. Nothing to do with COVID, I just can’t imagine a worse way to spend your life than staring at feet all day.
Winners: Companies that make needles and syringes.
Losers: People who are squeamish about needles. You can’t watch TV news without seeing some flabby old person’s arm getting pierced. They always look like a water-filled balloon. Ugh.
Winner: Justin Trudeau. Despite a chronicle of COVID incompetence – our vaccination rate is among the worst in the developed world; his madcap spending spree was the highest in the world – Trudeau’s personal popularity remains at about 50 per cent, according to an Angus Reid poll. I guess if you have an unlimited bank account and all the TV exposure you want, you can buy your way to popularity.
Loser: The Canadian taxpayer. As usual.
Maurice Tougas is a retired Alberta editor and journalist, formerly with the Red Deer Advocate, the Edmonton Examiner, Edmonton and Calgary Prime Times and many others. He was twice named best columnist in Canada by the Canadian Community Newspaper Association and was a finalist for the Golden Quill award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. He served one term as a Liberal MLA in the Alberta Legislature.