I'd like to begin by thanking the committee for the invitation. I commend its members for wanting to hear from a wide cross-section of Canadian society, including younger Canadians like me.
My name is Emma Rose Bienvenu. I am a recent graduate of McGill law. I also hold a master's degree in economics and a master's degree in business law from Sciences Po, Paris, and the University of Pennsylvania.
My remarks today are going to focus on three topics. First, I'll say a few words about how I am thinking about this crisis, which will hopefully provide useful context for my later recommendations. Second, I'll discuss ways to retrain and upskill the Canadian workforce. Third, I'll turn to how government can better support students, in particular students with disabilities.
I want to start by discussing two assumptions and beliefs that guide my thinking about the crisis. The first is that, in my view, it's imperative that government make morbidity, not just mortality, a top-of-mind consideration in its policy decisions, particularly as it assesses acceptable risks of virus exposure in the interim economic reopening.
The outcome of coronavirus is often expressed as a binary. We focus on case fatality rates—so many survive and so many don't—and we judge the success or failure of government responses by how many citizens have died from the disease. The science, however, is increasingly clear that COVID-19 does not lead to binary—