A&S scholars sharing their COVID-19 expertise in the media this week

May 22, 2020 by A&S News

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our community and the world, scholars from a range of disciplines across the Faculty of Arts & Science are sharing their expertise on pressing issues in the media — from prospects for economic recovery across Canada to changing approaches to urban planning.

Here’s some of what A&S scholars had to say this week.

May 15, 2020

  • Enid Slack, director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, examines whether taxes can be used to recover the economic shortfall the City of Toronto is facing due to the pandemic. “People have had their taxes deferred, so they’re going to have to pay their regular taxes plus the amount they deferred. Is that a time to say to people, ‘Well, we’re going to have to raise your taxes now and we’re going to have to cut services to make up for what we did in 2020?’,” Slack said in the Toronto Star (paywall).
  • Political Science professor Nelson Wiseman compares the differing approaches between Canada and the United States on making decisions around reopening businesses and borders in a Yahoo News Canada story. “[In Canada] political leaders and medical people are saying there’s no rush, where in the U.S. you’re getting mixed messages about liberating states,” said Wiseman, adding that the pandemic hasn’t been as politicized.

May 16, 2020

  • Jeffrey Reitz, R.F. Harney Professor of Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies in the Department of Sociology, comments on the comparison between Quebec’s secularism law and COVID-19 mask directives in the National Post. “People have largely avoided connecting the two issues because while medical masks and religious face coverings may be similar in practice, they symbolize different things,” Reitz said.
  • Sean Speer, assistant professor at the Munk School, discusses how Canada’s economy could take years to recover from the pandemic recession in a CBC News story.

May 17, 2020

  • Department of Economics professor Philip Oreopoulos is quoted in a Globe and Mail (paywall) story about the challenges new graduates will face when finding work. “Anyone who’s currently graduating and looking for work is going to be hard-pressed to find anything,” said Oreopoulos. “My best prediction is that the impacts we’re looking at now are probably going to be larger [than in past recessions].”

May 18, 2020

  • Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at The Citizen Lab at the Munk School co-authors a CBC News op-ed on how stalkerware puts those living with abusers in even greater jeopardy during isolation.
  • Lynette Ong, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the Munk School, comments on a need for China and the United States to work together to combat the coronavirus pandemic. “We really need the two powers to collaborate in order to find a collective solution,” Ong said in a CBC News story shared on Yahoo News. “But with the withdrawal of U.S. leadership, China has stepped up, and that has actually allowed China to shape the global narrative that it is actually fighting the pandemic, it is actually helping the rest of the world, particularly developing countries, to do so.”

May 19, 2020

  • Matti Siemiatycki of Geography & Planning comments in the Globe and Mail (paywall) on how the condo development industry will help the retail sector recover post-COVID-19. Pointing out that consumer desires and behaviour play a big role in determining real estate mixes, and that condo dwellers have chosen to live in smaller properties downtown in exchange for the promise of having access to a plethora of restaurants and entertainment options, Siemiatycki says, “The payoff is you’ll have the whole city as your living and dining rooms. People will still want to live in that way.”

May 20, 2020

  • Dan Breznitz of the Munk School and the Department of Political Science discusses how the lockdown is impacting resource-based industries in a Toronto Star story (paywall). Breznitz said he expects global trade in raw commodities to decline as COVID-19 makes it more difficult to move people and goods around the world.

May 21, 2020

  • Associate professor Shauna Brail, director of the Urban Studies Program at Innis College, speaks to the Toronto Star (paywall) about alternate modes of transportation during the pandemic, as urban roadways are opened up to cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Matti Siemiatycki also speaks with CBC News about safety concerns and other challenges facing public transit operators and riders in the course of the recovery from the pandemic. “Public transit has been identified as a location where there's going to need to be extreme care," Siemiatycki said. "The key is that there's going to be enough service that people can continue to use transit and that the service is provided safely." 
  • Professor Miriam Diamond of the Department of Earth Sciences describes the positive health impacts of reduced air pollution during the course of the pandemic in a CBC News story. "A couple of months (of reduction) will do us well because we're avoiding air-pollution-related deaths and illness, especially at a time when we are really concerned about the respiratory system," Diamond said. “Hopefully it is also having a benefit of reducing the severity of symptoms should you get COVID-19 because your lungs are in better shape."