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COVID-19: Getting Through the Crisis Together

Published on
March 23, 2020

As events are unfolding around us at a dizzying pace and the news from yesterday quickly feels like it is already months old, anxiety levels are justifiably elevated, and none of us have an end to this crisis in sight, I wanted to share a bit of perspective that was shared with me earlier today.

My generation has never been conscripted by government into the nation’s military.  Neither I nor any of my cohort have been involuntarily taken away from our families, shipped overseas and been made to fight in a war, where people we never met and had no personal disagreement with would try to kill us.  

In that regard, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy the Canadian way of life and all the benefits that come with it, thanks to the sacrifices of those who came before us.  Most of us take a moment to think about that every November 11th.

Today, we are not being handed a gun and getting sent halfway around the world, but we are being asked to fight a war against an enemy that is not detectable by satellite or drone but only by a microscope.  And note that, so far anyway, we are being asked to fight this enemy by staying home.

Stay home. Where your stuff is. Where your refrigerator is. Where your bed is. That’s it. Stay home. It pales in comparison to what those who came before us had to do.

Sussex has now moved to a work from home scenario. We are fortunate that technology allows it and the members of our team support it.  Our clients know that we are working to help them with their challenges in these unfamiliar circumstances. Collectively, we will get through this.

I am confident that we will be all right in part because of the Team Canada approach that, other than the odd hockey tournament, remains undefeated. Today, we are witnessing our governments at different levels and from different political parties working together in ways some of us may not have seen before. We are seeing companies and organizations stepping up, with little or nothing to gain. We are seeing individuals doing more than their part.

The Health Care Community

Most importantly, we are seeing the dedication, expertise and perseverance of the Canadian health care community. Over the years, we have worked with and for all kinds of professionals, companies, institutions and associations engaged in the provision of health care. And while their dialogue with governments may be about funding levels and/or regulation, make no mistake: these are some of the greatest people we have among us.  For most of them, their work is a calling, not just a career.  As I write this, they are putting themselves in harm’s way in order to help others. They are the warriors and heroes of this new type of war and we are lucky to have them.

The Political Climate

We are also fortunate that our political leaders and our political system are functioning as we would require and expect in a time of crisis. If you are not sure what I mean by this, take a few minutes to consider what is going on elsewhere in the world. I don’t think it is a coincidence that countries with much greater incidence of COVID-19 happen to be jurisdictions where the public has a deep mistrust of their own governments.  So when the warning goes out, people don’t heed it because they don’t believe what their political leaders are telling them.  Here, while we may disagree with and question our governments (as a functioning democracy would require), we are not so cynical so as to ignore the warnings that come from them.  Take a look at the global COVID statistics and how governments around the world are responding. Is there anywhere else you would rather be right now?

Sussex's Past Experiences

Finally, I have been reflecting on the various crises and situations that we have been through since we founded Sussex in 1998. In our firm’s infancy, we were faced with the whole Y2K problem. Remember, it wasn’t just an IT problem; there was discussion of nuclear missiles being inadvertently launched. Barely 20 months later, we and the rest of the world had to deal with the events of September 11, 2001, which has changed life permanently, and the ensuing war in Afghanistan.  As we were coming to terms with all of that, Ontario endured a massive power failure. Soon after, we were gripped by the threat of something new and different called SARS, which like the current pandemic, was until then unknown and had the ability to kill people despite the heroic efforts of our best scientists.  We have had to deal with the global meltdown of financial markets in 2008/2009, H1N1, and now this.

Our Principles

Throughout, my partners and I have carried on and stayed in business for 22 years not because we have a manual on what to do when global crises happen (we don’t, but maybe we should). Instead, we have been guided by some unwritten principles that guide us. These include:

  • Be good corporate citizens, remember we are part of a larger community
  • Ensure that our clients’ needs continue to be met to the best of our abilities
  • Enable our people to be safe and give them the tools they need to perform
  • Be a resource to governments who are dealing with the crisis; don’t pile on to their problems
  • Take care of the firm’s needs too, people depend on it now and will after the crisis
  • Act responsibly; now is not the time to take advantage or unduly profit  

People who know me well would not use the word Pollyanna to describe me or accuse me of seeing the world through rose coloured glasses. When I say we will get through this and come out stronger, it is because I believe it. So hang in there, let’s take care of ourselves and those who depend on us, and soon we will be discussing the lessons we learned during this outbreak, as we talk about it in the past tense.

Written By: Joseph Ragusa, Principal