The Covid-19 pandemic that started in the first months of 2020 is posing the Canadian government with a new, unknown issue: the consequences of the lockdowns, social distancing, and other safety measures that have been introduced to try and slow the spread of the virus. Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Canada was already in a mental health crisis. It is said that during their lifetime, one in five Canadians is diagnosed with some type of mental illness. As a result, substance abuse has been on the rise in the last couple of years, and with the start of the pandemic, the number of people using a form of substance or stimulant to cope with the current situation has grown rapidly.
The Canadian government is working hard to help citizens
There are many people who, until the pandemic, had never known what it was like to experience significant distress. And the Covid-19 virus has resulted in many people having to go through stress, and mental health problems they never experienced before. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) since the start of the pandemic, 40% of people in Canada have reported a decline in their mental health. The CMHA is proposing a “Social Contract” that would help citizens through progressive social policies. For the success of this plan, everyone needs to be involved; the government, organizations, businesses and the citizens of Canada.
New stimulants found online
With other outlets being unavailable, many people turn to other stimulants to cope with the mental health effects of the pandemic. These are not only physical stimulants such as alcohol or drugs. Another new form of coping mechanism is increasing rapidly, due to the greater level of isolation. Online shopping and media and news consumption are amongst the industries that have seen a huge increase in the number of users during the past two years. The increasing demand makes consumers more vulnerable to online businesses. People are exposed to online businesses that want to take advantage of the situation. Unethical behavior, such as price gouging, misinformation, and unethical marketing tactics.
Amidst lockdowns, businesses are trying to stay afloat, and sustain themselves even if it means violating consumer rights. Because of the lack of a global legal framework or regulatory body regarding online marketing, rogue sites are popping up, that are not subject to strict laws or regulations – which are solely targeting people who are marginalized due to the pandemic.
Unethical behavior of online entertainment businesses
To be able to protect consumers online, the Canadian government has to work closely with industry stakeholders. Cooperation between policymakers and businesses is needed because businesses have better knowledge about the consumers, their behavior, and specific practices. Without this cooperation, the government runs the risk of creating a legal framework for policies and counterproductive regulations and harms both the consumers and businesses.
Sustainable policies and regulations must cater for fair market conditions to compete in for small and large businesses, protect consumers and hold companies accountable if they do not comply with the regulatory framework. Accountability would create a need for taking responsibility which will ultimately protect consumers online and alleviate mental health problems.
If you know someone who is suffering from mental health issues or just want to educate yourself more. Then this documentary Being Greene is a great way to start.