What lies ahead?

What lies ahead? It is tough predicting anything these days.

The best we can muster here is a few hopes for better times ahead as we say goodbye to the second year-end of COVID-19 and welcome 2022.

There is every appearance that the pandemic is losing its steam. Numbers may be up, but the severity of the latest variant is more limited than before. Third doses of vaccine are helping stave off potentially catastrophic outcomes. In that respect, a return to normal should be in store for next year. For most of us, the chance to mingle, travel and socialize without restrictions can’t come soon enough.

While the pandemic raged on, the vast majority of Canadians followed directives and a minority opted out, the workings of the world did not stop. Instead, it churned forward as the Earth tends to do.

Although this has been a cataclysmic event in many respects, this time frame is little more than a blink in the history of time. Once people emerge from the malaise of COVID, it is our hope that perspective returns in people’s lives and the following issues are tackled.

Inflation continues to climb and with that the very real risk of rising interest rates could well lead to problems for many already-struggling households.

Housing, a persistent problem for over two decades, has turned acute, where many people entering the market are saddled with debt like no previous generation has encountered. Western countries should have pulled away from low interest policies years back, but the feast of free or close to free was too appealing.

Jobs, where employer and employee make a real commitment to each other, have lost their way. The lure of gig jobs and flex time continues to unravel as start-ups and digital businesses are now faced with honouring employment standards like legacy businesses.

Wages are also under fire as employers attempt to attract or retain help, without sacrificing profitability. It is a fine balancing act, made all the more difficult by rising public sector costs and regulated industries where consumers have no choice or competitive options. Workers need to see an increase in pay for 2022 or risk falling further behind.

Globalization and the drawbacks of that system will become a more serious talking point as the current supply chain troubles become better understood. Off-shore work needs to be brought home.

Climate change and the abandonment of fossil fuels will come more clearly into focus, pitting extremists at both ends of the debate against one another.

What lies ahead is anyone’s guess.