Wednesday 18 March 2020


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Companies around the globe have rolled out mandatory remote work.

My oldest daughter who is an inspector of jails in Ontario is doing her work at home via the internet connections with the jails. Her daughter who works as a social worker does her work from home via the internet.  My second oldest daughter who is an accountant has to do her work from her company`s office. I and my wife are both retired so we can remain in our home. Fortunately, we have enough of the necessities in our home so we don`t have to leave our home for some time now.   

There really isn`t any way of knowing if people that are next to others who are actually infected unless they are coughing all the time. Further, there is no way of knowing if what you touch in stores and malls has the virus bug on those items. Even if you wear rubber gloves, you could still bring the minute droplets of the virus with you when you enter your home after you have done your shopping.  

What is really scary is that if you buy fresh vegetables, the droplets of the virus may be on the surface of the vegetables that was left  by an infected person who sneezed or coughed on them.

Google, Microsoft, Twitter. Hitachi, Apple, Amazon. Chevron, Salesforce, Spotify. From the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, these are all global companies that have, in the last few days, rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.

It is  realistic to assume that shifting to the ‘home office’ will become the new normal way of working  for many workers  for qite a while according to a  recent announcement by the World Health Organization since the coronavirus has officially reached  the pandemic’ status.

Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity. But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good workspace to the way you talk to fellow employees who are also working at their homes. The key to working from home is having clear communication with your boss and knowing exactly what’s expected of you. You should have really clear-set expectations for communications day to day.

Most people spend their days in close proximity to their boss, therefore  communication is easy and effortless. But that’s all out the window with remote work, and communication breakdown is even more likely if your workplace isn’t used to remote work. Your manager might not be used to managing people who are out of sight , for example, or your company might not have a ready-to-go equipment  for remote workers.

Of course this only applies to office workers. Factory workers, truck and bus drivers and construction workers don`t have this luxury.

With a deluge of news about cancelled events together with conflicting information about what to do or not do,  the COVID-19 pandemic is causing confusion, uncertainty and worry among many Canadians and others around the world.

Travel restrictions, school closures and event cancellations are being announced every day. And phrases like "self-isolation" and "social distancing" have now entered the collective lexicon.

Travelling back to Canada or the United States for those outside their home country is one of the main issues. Canada and the United States are now working on a deal to close the shared border to all non-essential travel which is an unprecedented measure.

Thousands of trucks cross the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit. A deal to close the U.S.-Canada border would allow commercial traffic to continue, to keep critical supply chains intact, according to sources. However busses and private cars are treated differently.

Once finalized, the mutual agreement would close the border to tourists and shoppers while still allowing Canadians residents and America residents to return home. The final deal is expected to allow some commercial traffic to continue to keep critical supply chains intact.

CNN first reported the development  when sources had confirmed the accuracy of the report. One source says Ottawa and Washington are working together on the plan, and that it will be reciprocal.

 The planned restrictions underscore the sudden severity of the COVID-19 crisis. Typically, Canadian officials are loath to impose restrictions on the movement of people at the border. But the intention is to find an agreement that will restrict the free-flow of people across the border, but still allow for the flow of critical goods across the border.

Canadian prime minister Trudeau announced that his government would deny entry to almost all foreigners however he made an exception for American residents  but said that exception would be reviewed. The agreement would limit cross-border travel to essential activities, for example, the critical delivery of goods by truck drivers.

"Nearly 200,000 people cross the borders every day and traffic that goes across that border is literally a lifeline for both the Canadians and the Americans on both sides of that border.

Both countries get their groceries thanks to truckers who drive back and forth across that border. Very urgently needed medical supplies and medicines go back and forth across that border slso. And essential workers also go back and forth across that border every day. We can only hope that the truck drivers are not infected with  this deadly disease.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu, whose Thunder Bay-Superior North riding in Ontario is near the Minnesota border, cited a number of examples of what the government would consider non-essential travel, such as shopping trips by residents of border community.

President Donald Trump, asked about the prospect of closing the northern border at his own White House news conference earlier in the day and  signalled that talks were in progress.

There are a number of financial supports on their way to help businesses through forced closures and self-isolation, as well as to aid Canadians still abroad struggling to come home, Trudeau said.

Trudeau said the government will spend up to $82 billion, including $27 billion in direct support for Canadian workers and businesses.

Employment insurance and direct income supports will be made available to millions that have lost income due to the pandemic, Trudeau  said. While businesses could possibly receive funding to keep people on the payroll even when they're at home the  federal government is expected to announce a $25-billion aid package on March 11th especially if the works were temporarily laid off because of the OVID19 dilemma.

“These are extraordinary times, our government is taking extraordinary measures,” Trudeau said. “The measures we’re announcing today March 18th will provide up to $27 billion dollars in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy.”

For Canadians without paid sick leave or access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits, the government is introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit that will provide up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. The benefit, which the government estimates could cost up to $10 billion, is for worker who must self-isolate, those who are caring for a family member sick with COVID-19 and parents who are unable to earn income while schools are closed as a result of childcare duties.

The epidemic control efforts unfolding today in China—including placing some 100 million citizens on lockdown, shutting down a national holiday, building enormous quarantine hospitals in days’ time, and ramping up 24-hour manufacturing of medical equipment—are indeed gargantuan. It’s impossible to watch them without wondering, “What would we do? How would my American government respond if this virus spread across my country?”

As to the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark

The problem, is that although Barack Obama built a working pandemic response structure during the Ebola outbreak (which of course Trump criticized incessantly on Twitter), that structure has then completely obliterated.

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.

Although Barack Obama built a working pandemic response structure during the Ebola outbreak (which of course Trump criticized incessantly on Twitter, that structure has now been obliterated. Now the Americans have to start all over again   from the beginning.

Metaphorically, Trump dropped his pants. Now everyone has seen  his unmentionables which  has not   impressed anyone.     

This  is not surprising because the dolts in the Electoral College chose that other dolt, Donald Trump to be the president of the United States.

There are many lessons to be learned from this pandemic.

1. Be prepared  in advance.

2. Be careful who you let in your country when a serious disease becomes evident. Ialy. Iran and Spain let many infected  travellers into their countries. Now thousand upon thousands of people in those countries are at the time of the writing of this article are infected with the COVID19 virus. 

3. Prepare a fund in advance so when a pamdemic virus comes, the fund and its interest will be sufficen to look after the ill, the unemployed, and their children. 

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