At Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Picton via Zoom, President of The County Foundation Brian Beiles offered the club an overview of a report on how the local community has weathered the coronavirus storm over the previous year.
The report, COVID-19 Impact & Response in PEC, covers the period of lockdown from March 20, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and is prepared by The County Foundation for the benefit of the municipality.
This report explores the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on PrinceEdward County and the community’s response to this ongoing crisis.
“The benefit of this report and who it was intended for it, Firstly to inform priority actions for the county, secondly to provide community organizations with information to support decision making and their grant writing and thirdly to encourage community members to contribute to the wellbeing of community in what ever way they’re able to do that,” Beiles explained.
The structure of the report is organized around nine key focus areas established in The County Foundations 2018 Vital Signs Report such as food insecurity, employment and income, housing, education, transportation, etc.. Data cited in the report is drawn from quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary sources. Areas of study are based on Vital Sign framework. Statistical data was gathered from national, provincial and municipal sources as well as from studies by community and regional organizations. Qualitative data reflects the thoughts and opinions of 55 key County service providers who represent 44 organizations.
Those key focus areas and the underlying initiatives also contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for everyone, these goals were set in 2015 and are intended to be achieved by 2030.
The nine key focus areas include people, place and culture, housing, employment income, health and safety, food insecurity, education, transportation and sense of belonging.
“So what is The County Foundation’s role in all of this?,” Beiles said. “Well our vision is to improve the lives of present and future generations in PEC by working collaboratively to build a place where people can reside, work and play. So how do we do that? we inspire giving and philanthropy, we make and manage grants, we provide leadership, we provide support to collective organizations. “
Looking ahead, the report expounds slightly on the concept of a crisis serving as a catalyst for change.
“It is evident that the pandemic will continue to fundamentally transform the economy, health care, workplaces, education, travel and recreation, societal norms and more,” the report states. “Accelerated technology adoption is enabling more online services. However, an increased dependence on technology combined with limited access to reliable high-speed internet is widening the digital divide here in Prince Edward County. Remote work increased to 40 per cent in late March 2020, up from 13 per cent in 2018. The flexibility to work from any location is inspiring people to relocate from heavily populated urban areas to rural areas. Community leaders continue to respond with adaptability and innovation. New and innovative approaches were launched, many of which will become permanent. Perceptions, beliefs and social norms are shifting. Views about personal safety, human connections, inequities, essential workers, mental health and engagement with nature are changing.”
In its conclusion, the report reasons that as the pandemic disrupts lives and livelihoods, the social impact continues.
“Throughout Prince Edward County, individuals, groups and organizations are responding with resilience, creativity and reinvention. While many aspects of life may normalize once “herd immunity” is reached, we are all heading towards a very different future than what we envisioned at the start of 2020. New ways of defining our individual and collective goals, objectives and values will help us discover and drive solutions to “build back better”. As we continue to learn from this unprecedented experience, thoughtful planning can help our community prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.”
The report was funded through the Federal Emergency Community Support Fund, The County and The County Foundation.
“I think the more people that become aware of what the issues are, what is being done and how they can help will help to raise awareness and reduce sigma and increase understanding,” added Beiles.
This report was presented to Council on April 27 and the community is invited to attend a free webinar about the results on Tuesday, May 18 at 9:00 a.m. Mayor Steve Ferguson is expected to make opening remarks about the COVID-19 report on May 18 and will be joined by Beiles.
To read the full Covid-19 Impact & Response in PEC report please visit https://thecountyfoundation.ca/vital-signs/covid-19-impact-report/
To read the 2018 digitized vital signs report please visit https://thecountyfoundation.ca/vital-signs-report-2018-update/