Thanks very much for the question. I'm happy to expand.
I think the way to do better is to understand what caused their vulnerability in the first place. There are two approaches that we could generally think about. One is to mitigate the harm done to vulnerable people, but the first is to ask why people are vulnerable in the first place. What makes us sort people into being vulnerable and not? What we've learned from the literature is that this issue of someone's social and economic position, in particular their race and their social class, creates an inherent vulnerability. Without addressing the fact that life, material conditions, stress, opportunity and so on are fundamentally sorted by race and class, we can't possibly hope to do anything about what the eventual outcomes of that vulnerability are, which are things like COVID-19 inequities, cardiovascular inequities, hypertension inequities, educational inequities, employment inequities and so on.
I think what we can do is take a good, long, hard look at how we structure opportunity in our society and say to ourselves, “We want a society in which the policies and the institutions create opportunity for everybody.” I think, as one of the members eloquently said earlier, it's the distinction between equality and equity in the sense that you want to make sure—knowing that we don't have an equitable society and that it's unfair to some—that we start to look at key policies that would get us to equity and would not just unfold opportunities as if they could be equally taken up.
A great example is that of post-secondary education. You could make an argument that anyone can apply and that this creates some equality. We don't stop anybody from applying. If you make the grades and so on, you can get into school. But that's not actually how it works, because you have to be able to pay for school. You have to have teachers who support you in feeling as though you can make it to that point. You have to have an environment around you that doesn't cause you so much stress that you can't focus on your studies and so on. The same is true for COVID. Yes, we could all shelter ourselves, social distance and technically avoid COVID, but that's not actually how things work. Some of us are more exposed than others are by virtue of our vulnerable position.
I think what I'm suggesting is that, as counterintuitive as it may seem, looking at the fundamental injustices of making some people vulnerable in our society is really the way to tackle the outgrowth of that.