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A grim milestone and update on pandemic-plagued economy. : In The News for Oct. 28 – Kamloops This Week

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 28 …

What we are watching in Canada …

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Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths Tuesday from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer, but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.

But she said she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread.,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks” but added that a vaccine is coming.

Also this …

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada will release its updated outlook for the country’s pandemic-plagued economy.

The central bank in July said it believed the country had been spared from a worst-case scenario envisioned in April, but warned things could change.

Governor Tiff Macklem has said a severe second wave of the pandemic, health restrictions that extend beyond December and the timing of a vaccine or other effective treatment could all shift the country’s economic course.

This morning the central bank will provide a more detailed analysis of its forecast for the domestic economy as the country marches through a second wave of COVID-19.

Macklem has said the central bank will keep its key policy rate as low at it can go at 0.25 per cent until the economy has recovered and inflation is back at the bank’s two-per-cent target.

That means experts don’t expect the central bank to change the rate from near-zero when the bank makes its announcement later this morning.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

PHILADELPHIA — The lawyer for the family of a Black man killed by Philadelphia police officers in a shooting caught on video says the family had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis, not for police intervention.

Police say 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots Monday afternoon.

Following a second night of arrests and reports of theft in sections of Philadelphia, a White House statement asserted that the unrest was another consequence of what it called “Liberal Democrats’ war against the police.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Satellite photos show Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility.

That’s after the head of the UN’s nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer.

Since August, the satellite photos show Iran has built a new or regraded road to the south of Natanz toward what analysts believe is a former firing range for security forces at the enrichment facility.

Analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies say they believe that site is undergoing excavation.

On this day in 2008 …

Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page avoided jail time on drug possession charges provided he seek substance abuse treatment and stay clean for the next six months. Page was charged with drug possession in July after police found cocaine at a Fayetteville, N.Y. apartment. He complied with his probation conditions and the charges were eventually dropped.

In health news …

The Canadian Medical Association says ongoing surgical and diagnostic backlogs will only worsen without immediate government help to address a strained health-care system.

The CMA found average wait-times increased by one-to-two months for the most common procedures in the first wave and it would take $1.3 billion in additional funds to tackle procedures sidelined from January to June because they were deemed non-essential during the pandemic.

A study ordered by the organization looked at the six most commonly delayed procedures: CT and MRI scans, hip and knee replacements, cataract surgeries and coronary artery bypass grafts, which all plummeted in April, when almost no cataract or knee replacements took place.

Although procedures gradually began to rebound in June, the report found more than 270,000 people had their MRI scans — which can detect serious disease or injury — delayed by a national average of nearly eight months, more than seven weeks longer than before the pandemic. Those waiting for knee replacement surgeries had to wait an average of 14 months, about two months longer than before the pandemic.

“The impact on wait times is just going to be the worst-ever in our system,” CMA president Dr. Ann Collins says.

“It’s going to have serious consequences the longer this pandemic goes on.”

ICYMI …

An original member of the Jamaican bobsled team featured in the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings” is imploring whoever stole the nose cone from a sled that appeared in the film to return it to a Calgary bar.

Devon Harris, who is also chairman of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, says he’s not going to lose sleep over the missing bobsled shell, but is disappointed over the news.

“It’s gone too far now,” Harris says. ‘”Just bring it back.”

Police say the shell was last seen at Ranchman’s country bar last week as it hung outside below the roof of the building. The sled was a gift to to the business by the movie’s production crew after some scenes were filmed there. The bar closed last month.

“Cool Runnings” is loosely based on the true story of the national Jamaican bobsled team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Harris, who lives in New York, says he saw a friend from Calgary post on Facebook about the stolen black bobsled shell with the Jamaican flag colours — black, green and gold — and immediately rolled his eyes.

He says the sled was a gift from a Canadian bobsled team and was later painted for the movie.

“It’s kind of like this work of art that somebody go hide in a basement and they are the only ones who have the opportunities to enjoy it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020

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Economy

Citizens don't expect national economies to recover anytime soon – Ipsos Research

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Citizens don’t expect national economies to recover anytime soon  Ipsos Research



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Economy

Dan Davies- Weekly Column – Horgan lacks plan to rebuild B.C. economy – Energeticcity.ca

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The good news is we now see a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re able to start planning and thinking about rebuilding —about heading out to local businesses, about being able to start saving again for the future and plotting a path to personal economic recovery.

The bad news is John Horgan, and the NDP don’t seem to have a plan in place for rebuilding British Columbia — and the latest proof is in the Public Accounts for 2020/21.

Normally, these are just dry numbers, and they pass without much notice. This time is different. The numbers don’t lie, and they show where B.C. is at and, more importantly, where the province must go in the coming days.

The provincial deficit sits at $5.5 billion — which is a lot of money. Taxpayer-supported provincial debt has increased by $13.5 billion in 2020/21, with total provincial debt now at $87 billion. This works out to $16,919 in debt for every British Columbian.

Now, the Official Opposition backed the government in providing support, even when John Horgan was bungling the rollout of things like support for small businesses.

But we’ve also been clear that we need a plan to rebuild the economy. It’s not just enough to hope; we need a roadmap that clearly lays out how we ensure there are jobs in every corner of the province. The NDP hasn’t done that, except to spend $500,000 on a consultant from England.

We’re all doing the hard work of figuring out how to get ahead in our personal lives. It’s not too much to expect Premier Horgan to do the same for British Columbia. It’s time for him to do his job and create a B.C. jobs plan.

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What freight rail tells us about the economy – Marketplace

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Warren Buffett was once asked which economic indicator he would choose if he were stranded on a desert island with access to only one set of economic statistics. There are lots of indicators out there — consumer confidence, inflation and unemployment.

But Buffett picked freight rail traffic. And for good reason.

“What we move is the economy. It’s the tangible economy,” said Ian Jefferies, CEO of the Association of American Railroads. “And so as the economy goes, rail goes. So when rail is doing well, it usually means the economy is running pretty strong.”

Right now rail is doing well, especially when it comes to intermodal train traffic, Jeffries said. That’s when products travel in containers from ship to truck or train.

“The highest volumes we’ve ever seen”

“For the first half of 2021 … intermodal traffic was the highest volumes we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Intermodal train traffic was up more than 17% from the first half of last year, Jeffries said. No surprise there, because train shipments fell off when the pandemic started, like the rest of the economy. But intermodal traffic was also more than 5% higher than in 2019, which was a good year. These intermodal trains are brimming with the imported products consumers are demanding. 

“This is a good sign,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a former deputy at the Transportation Department now teaching at George Washington University. “It’s a good sign first of all that people have money to spend. And second, it’s good that they have confidence to spend.”

So, the freight rail tea leaves are pointing squarely toward more economic growth, right? Actually, Furchtgott-Roth said that this year, it’s complicated.

Jammed ports can cause problems on the rails

U.S. ports are backed up with a traffic jam of ships full of imports. Because of that whole intermodal thing, problems at the ports can cause problems on the rails. Plus, shipments for the holidays are starting now.

It could take longer for imported products to reach store shelves, Furchtgott-Roth said.

“If we don’t have enough goods shipped by rail, if the congestion continues, the prices will be higher,” she said.

Freight rail also tells us about U.S. exports. Right now, rail shipments of grain are down. That’s kind of weird, since farmers are producing plenty, said Joseph Schofer, who teaches civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. Grain might also be caught up in the international shipping snag, he said, or maybe it’s a storage issue.

“If you don’t have enough storage, you can’t move product and the system slows down or freezes up,” he said.

Ore, metal and chemical shipments are up

Rail shipments of other raw materials like ores, metals and chemicals are up, Schofer said; they’re going to U.S. factories, which are ordering a lot of supplies right now.

“Because they have either expectations that they can sell more products, or they have firm orders for more products,” he said.

Either way, Schofer said, it’s a vote of confidence in the economy, pointing the way to more economic growth this fall. How much growth depends on COVID-19, of course, but also how long it takes to unclog the ports and sort out storage issues and other bottlenecks that could cut into the rail shipments the economy needs to keep humming.

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