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Who should bear the costs of COVID-19?

By Wilson Prichard      

There are no easy answers about how precisely to share the burden of the crisis. More detailed policy discussions are needed. A good starting point would be to agree that when we ask, 'Who should bear the costs of COVID-19?' we can collectively answer 'All of us, equitably.'

Contrary to blanket statements that taxes would harm growth and recovery, such measures would pose little threat to the economy: if used to fund transfers to lower-income groups, who are more likely to spend their income. They may actually stimulate demand and economic recovery, writes Wilson Prichard. Photograph courtesy of Pexels

TORONTO—This is not a normal economic crisis. The pain has been distributed unevenly—and arbitrarily. Those who have suffered most were not, for the most part, reckless, poorly prepared or irresponsible. Overwhelmingly, it has been a matter of luck. The bad luck has been concentrated among those in face-to-face sectors, and those with more insecure contracts—disproportionately women, younger workers, visible minorities and those with lower-incomes. Meanwhile, a smaller minority—often already wealthy—have seen their wealth and profits expand further. Absent substantial and continued support, vulnerable groups will likely exit the crisis worse off than when it began, and our country will be more unequal.

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