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Hindsight is 2020 – A Vantage Perspective

It has been just over nine months since our world changed overnight. Since then, Vantage has tracked developments at home and around the world, while using our weekly lookaheads to keep you one step ahead of forthcoming policy directives, behavioural changes, and upcoming trends. As December ends, join us as we take stock of some of our more important predictions (and if looking ahead – not backwards – is more your thing, stay tuned for our 2021 predictions):  







If you take away nothing else from this email, take this: we are in completely uncharted territory…we recommend that you start making decisions for your businesses and your families accordingly for the next six weeks.

It’s December, and Canada is averaging over 6,000 new cases a day. Thousands of businesses remain closed, hospitals are at capacity, and some provinces are still reporting new daily case records. 2020 may almost be over, but this pandemic is clearly not. (And, perhaps worse than the short-sightedness on the timeframe, we missed an opportunity to lay claim to one of 2020’s most popular words: “unprecedented”).



Concerns about the food supply will continue to mount as produce imports from Europe and South America slow.

A recent report out of Dalhousie shows that next year, Canadian families are expected to spend an average of almost $700 more on food next year. Community Food Centres Canada found that food insecurity has increased by 39% and 1 in 7 Canadians are now food insecure because of the pandemic – a harrowing figure.



Litigation, litigation, litigation. Civil liberties associations are soliciting complaints about overly zealous by-law enforcement measures. Speculation abounds about class action lawsuits against long term care homes.

In October, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced it would appeal the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to uphold the province’s travel ban. In Ontario, there have been at least two dozen legal actions against long-term care homes, where over 2,500 people have died from the virus. 2020 litigation (force majeure contract disputes, vaccine liability, and negligence lawsuits, to name a few) will continue well into the next decade.



The debate about making mask-wearing mandatory has reached a tipping point. Over the course of the next week, we should know one way or the other which parts of the country will demand it, which will just recommend it, and if any plan to introduce fines.

Shockingly, it took British Columbia until the end of November, and Alberta until December, to introduce requirements for masks in indoor spaces. Research released by Simon Fraser University found counterfactual simulations suggest that if Canada had mandated indoor mask wearing nationwide in July, it would have reduced the national weekly caseload by 25- to 40-% in mid-August, based on Ontario numbers that show the positive impact of early mask mandates. 



The she-cession will continue to attract policy and public attention as we edge closer to September.

Without doubt, the duality of heavy job losses in the service and retail sectors, as well as the harsh demands of at-home childcare for working moms, has disproportionately affected women. September’s Throne Speech and November’s Fall Economic Statement laid out initial plans to rectify this. Expect the she-cession to continue to be a policy priority.



As COVID-19 case numbers drop, complacency rises … Mark your calendar for 8-10 weeks from now. To make it easier, Canadian Thanksgiving is 9 weeks from now. If this week is the end of the first wave, that may be the start of the second.

On September 28th, Premier Ford indicated that Ontario was officially in the second wave of the pandemic, with 700 new cases reported on that day. By Thanksgiving, Canada was seeing over 2,000 new cases a day. The earlier-than-expected arrival of the second wave surprised us, as it seemed to do to health officials and politicians alike.



Broadband connectivity continues to be an area of interest for policymakers across the country…Look to governments across the spectrum to add more spending in this area.

In October, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) launched their $10 billion growth plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. Of this, $2 billion was committed to largescale broadband projects across the country – between students learning in rural areas and commuters who are not going back to the office anytime soon, internet access has become even more pivotal.



Calls for re-imposed restrictions and lockdown measures will be loud. In Ontario, we’re watching for the possibility of a regionalized return to stage 2 in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa, together with smaller gathering limits. 

Embracing precision shutdowns over blanket lockdowns, the Ontario government announced in October that Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa would be placed in a “modified stage 2.” Since then, the government has introduced a tiered, colour-coded approach to zoning public health regions, with some tiers eliminating gatherings and social circles altogether.



Anti-mask and anti-lockdown protestors will become more emboldened.

The owner of Adamson BBQ in Etobicoke made headlines in December for refusing to follow lockdown orders and keeping his restaurant open for business – after a highly publicized arrest, a GoFundMe raised over $350,000 for his legal fees, painting him as a martyr for small businesses, everywhere.



Leaders are turning their mind to the Christmas break. Quebec Premier François Legault has already announced that people will be allowed to gather in groups of ten from December 24th to December 27th…other Premiers are expected to lay out similar guidance for a COVID Christmas.

Despite earlier promises, the Grinch COVID has still managed to steal Christmas. In early December, near tears, Premier Brian Pallister issued an impassioned plea for Manitobans to stay home this Christmas. During the same week, Quebec Premier François Legault backtracked on earlier promises and disallowed gatherings over Christmas weekend. The British Columbia government has extended a ban on social gatherings outside of single households until January 8th.



The holidays are almost upon us, and data suggests we should expect a surge in cases following the Christmas break.

We can only hope we’re wrong.


On average, that’s a passing grade – and, in 2020, you can’t ask for more than that. In all seriousness, we embarked on this mission to provide our readers with some clarity and calm amidst what was a challenging and chaotic year. We hope we were able to do just that.

As one last look back at 2020, we’ve put together a collection of the memorable phrases that came up – many of which we hope to never hear again (murder hornets, anyone?). Messaging has continued to be an immensely important part of combatting this pandemic – from Singapore to Uruguay, the United Kingdom to India, “social distancing” means something. As we get closer to mass vaccination and immunization, the effectiveness of public policy decisions will rest on our ability to communicate with each other, across provinces, countries, and cultures.


mcmillan vantage policy group
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