Cheap Comes At a Price
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
We live in interesting times. Not even last fall would we have thought that Canada would be in the state we are in now.
If someone would have told you that the city would be in a state of emergency in March and that we would live in near lock down, we would probably not be able to fathom what that would be like. No income to pay rent. No kids in school. No playing in the park. Museums, libraries and theatres all closed. No visit to a restaurant. Mass layoffs at Air Canada, Bombardier and Cirque de Soleil. Not even being able to visit our elderly parents anymore. Heck, we can’t even scratch the itch in our own eyes anymore.
We would not be able to believe such a prediction; but it happened, and fast. In less than a month we went from an innocent sneeze-in-your-sleeve advise to hefty fines for veering off the path in a public park.
Hunt for lowest cost
Yet, this might be a good moment to reevaluate the way we are living. It has become abundantly clear that our lifestyle needs some serious considerations. In our hunt for the lowest cost, we have outsourced our production to places far from home. This has helped other countries to climb out of poverty but we have become very dependent at the same time.
This dependence becomes obvious in times of crises, when shortage of critical products (and we are not talking about toilet paper but face masks, ventilators and gloves) could cost us lives when supply chains start to fail. Who would have thought that US medical staff are short of protective gear and have to wear garbage bags as they ran out of supply in a country that has a military budget of 748 billion USD.
Race to the bottom
As consumers we are partly responsible for this situation. We want to pay the lowest price for a product. So production went overseas, and then the call centres followed. The result is that many of us have no choice but working low paying jobs, bringing them in immediate financial trouble if a crisis hit. A race to the bottom is not in our best interest.
Cheap comes at a price
A first step for us as consumers is to realise that ‘cheap’ is not always in our best interest in the long term. Perhaps we have to start thinking differently. Perhaps we have to weigh that our neighbor makes a decent buck if we buy something locally made instead. Perhaps we should buy excellent locally baked sourdough bread at a main street bakery or buy a set of garden chairs that is made by a Canadian company. Perhaps send postcards made in Ottawa by a young artist. How about signing up or a community vegetable box?
Does it come with a price? Yes it does. It can be a bit more expensive. But the choice is ours; buy less, but buy local. Buy one excellent local product and build a resilient social structure, that doesn’t stop functioning in times of crisis. Support local businesses, not only in times of crisis but all the time. So they can employ you, your neighbours, your kids.
Can we buy everything around the corner? No, but we can make an effort in buying what is locally available. And perhaps leave the strawberries for spring instead of Christmas.
Green Party platform
Our platform is clear: Poverty, income insecurity, student debt, lack of affordable housing, unsafe drinking water, lack of access to family doctors and unaffordable child care are not inevitable in one of the richest countries in the world. At worst, they are the result of policy decisions; at best, of policy neglect. Renewing the social contract is a Green Party priority.
We must start by recommitting to a vision of Canada as a just society built around a progressive, fair and compassionate social safety network.
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Support a change and become a member of our local Green Party, the Ottawa West Nepean Greens at the provincial and federal level. Join today.