COVID-19 has confirmed that well-resourced public health systems are the best defence against any public health crisis, Public Services International‘s Rosa Pavanelli writes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated, more than ever, the overwhelming importance of public services and the devastating consequences of under-funding and privatising public services.
The workers who deliver public services: healthcare workers, child, disability and elderly care workers, workers who make sure we have access to energy, to water and sanitation, emergency service workers, teachers and workers supporting public education, waste sector workers and workers who keep local, provincial and federal government services and administration working, are calling on governments to commit to COVID Recovery Plans that deliver a new era of public services for all.
Governments are now seeking to stimulate economic activity. They can and must take the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations and facilitate the largest delivery of public goods in a lifetime.
COVID-19 has confirmed that well-resourced public health systems are the best defence against any public health crisis. Similarly, well-resourced public services are the best defence against economic and social crises. Countries that have invested in quality public services will weather this crisis, and any future crisis, far better than those who have embraced the corrosive ideology of neoliberalism.
Many governments are now lifting restrictions and seeking to stimulate economic activity. They can and must take the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations and facilitate the largest delivery of public goods in a lifetime.
COVID-19 Recovery Plans must reorganise our societies around the capacity to care for all people and the environments we depend on, and to eliminate gender, wealth and social inequalities. Recoveries following previous crises – like the Great Depression and the Second World War – demonstrate that with political will, it is possible to secure a vast array of new public goods and services.
We can recover and inoculate ourselves against future crisis by building new public health infrastructure, health training and research, new universities, new public broadcasters and data systems, new public clean, renewable energy, new public spaces and guaranteed universal social protection.
What we cannot afford is to go back to the broken ‘business as usual’. We cannot accept the enticing discourse that is emerging in global circles, where corporates are not only promising a prosperous future for all – after having been bailed out by governments during the emergency – but also demanding even more power to define the rules of the new order.