COVID-19: London, Ont. unveils framework for post-pandemic recovery

A network compromised of more than 30 organizations that represent a variety of local perspectives has unveiled its plan to help London, Ont., recover from the socioeconomic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The London Community Recovery Framework was made public on Wednesday in a report heading to the strategic priorities and policy committee next week.

The framework was developed by the London Community Recovery Network (LCRN), a group formed in response to the pandemic. From September to December of 2020, the group identified 70 ideas for action to help London recover from the pandemic.

In March 2021, LCRN began developing a “whole-of-community approach with an eye to a 1-3-year horizon” that eventually led to the framework in question.

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The framework sets out a vision for “a strong London fully recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is building a resilient, equitable, and inclusive post-pandemic future.”

The document also provides focus areas that aim to bring the vision to fruition over the next three years, along with an extensive list of metrics to determine London’s progress and a commitment to regular reporting on the recovery efforts.

A list of focus areas set out by the London Community Recovery Framework that aims to guide the city toward "community recovery and renewal from the pandemic."

A list of focus areas set out by the London Community Recovery Framework that aims to guide the city toward "community recovery and renewal from the pandemic."

City of London

Contained within the focus areas are a number of issues heightened by the pandemic and the bulk of the framework relates to measuring London’s success at addressing them.

For domestic violence, the framework will measure success by the number of crisis and support calls answered by Anova each year, along with the number of child maltreatment investigations launched by the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex.

Success in addressing homelessness will be measured by the number of people named on London’s Homeless Individuals and Families Information System.

Mental health will be measured by analyzing self-reported data in Statistics Canada’s Canadian community health survey, as well as the number of calls fielded by 211 Ontario that relate to inquiries about mental health or addictions.

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Business health in London will be judged by the number of business openings and closings as reported by Statistics Canada. The unemployment rate will similarly be used to measure London’s success on the employment front.

Statistics Canada data will also be used to measure success in housing affordability and availability, with the framework pointing to the vacancy rate as well as the percentage of income required to rent a 1-bedroom unit.

The number of police reported hate crimes, according to Statistics Canada, will be used to measure success in combatting racism and oppression.

The city’s own recording of London’s greenhouse gas emissions will be used to measure success in addressing climate change and achieving environmental stability.

As for COVID-19 management and prevention, the framework will cite the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s reports on local case counts and vaccination uptake.

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One of the many contributors to the framework is Mike Moffatt, the senior director of policy at the Smart Prosperity Institute who also works as an assistant professor in business, economics and public policy at the Ivey Business School.

Moffatt says the framework is informed by trends observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increasingly stringent climate policy and the way the pandemic has had unequal effects on different groups.

Other trends include looking at how the pandemic affects where people work and how those impacts will continue after the pandemic.

“We consider all of those, we consider what we’re relatively sure is going to happen, as well as some unknowns as well,” Moffatt said.

The framework earned high praise from Moffatt, whose extensive experience in public policy includes serving as an outside advisor during the creation of the Canada Child Benefit.

“It’s easy to set vague aspiration goals, but this takes that a step forward and provides those metrics which is an important form of accountability … Londoners can know whether or not we’re making progress,” Moffatt said.

“London should be proud that this is the first framework like this and I think other communities will use this as an example and will be watching London.”

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Mayor Ed Holder, who chaired the LCRN, added that the framework represents the first of many steps.

“What this is intended to be is a long-term play to ensure that London is ready for recovery,” Holder told Global News.

“We’ve had mayors from across the country trying to understand what it is that we’re doing here and we’ll be sharing that as we go.”

Holder’s fellow councillors will have their first chance to discuss the framework when the group of politicians meets as the strategic priorities and policy committee on Tuesday.

“Do I anticipate there’ll be questions? Sure,” Holder said about next week’s meeting.

“But I think that, also, council is going to say, ‘OK, we’ve given you this support so far … go forward and continue to report back on what the actual successes have been.'”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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