September 16 – Antifragility and resilience

October 19, 2020

By Methuseli Dube

This week was our first under our new name, the COVID-19 Community Resilience Network, and our new time, Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m-2:30 p.m. We also made the choice to change the weekly meeting structure so that it alternates between a week with an invited guest presenter and a week of hosted dialogues led by network participants. This is to help give some space for deepening community dialogue.  

This week was also my first on the team! I am a 4th year Communications student and my role will be to help with engagement and promotion, so feel free to write to me at the email, above.

Notes and highlights

Today's discussion delved into the overarching theme for the Fall 2020 discussions: community resilience and antifragility.

  • Fragility: the quality of being easily broken or damaged.
  • Resilience: the ability resist and quickly recover.
  • Antifragility: gaining from disorder; to thrive and grow when exposed to a shock.

A poignant example of fragility in Canada is nursing homes, where we see a much higher proportion of COVID-19 deaths when compared to countries like Australia: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-25/coronavirus-aged-care-australia-crisis-feels-shockingly-familiar/12592178 

There are many challenges to fixing this problem:

  • It is not included in the Canada Health Act;
  • Population in long term care has become more complex;
  • Workforce is unregulated and receives the lowest wages in the healthcare sector;
  • Many homes are old and not designed for the complex needs of the current population.

The president of the Royal Society of Canada established a task force to look into the matter in April, 2020. the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19.


An example of antifragility with regards to long term care is the Virtual Triage Assessment Centre (VTAC), which connects rural/remote residents with or without family doctors to the appropriate level of care. Toll-free, it was established in twelve days and proceeded to complete 10,000 virtual appointments and 3,500 paramedic home visits.


Breakout discussion questions:

  1.     What systems has the pandemic revealed as fragile and antifragile?
  2.     Where do you see opportunities to build back better?


Here are some of the links and resources shared throughout the conversation. I highly recommend exploring these further.