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Canada added almost 1 million jobs in June but still almost 2 million down from pre-COVID-19 level – CBC.ca

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Canada’s economy added almost one million jobs last month, as businesses reopened after COVID-19 shutdowns.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the economy added 953,000 jobs during June, on top of the 290,000 it gained the previous month. But despite that two-month stretch, there are still 1.8 million fewer jobs in Canada today than there were in February.

The jobless rate fell to 12.3 per cent, down from the record high of 13.7 it hit in May.

The job gains were better than the 700,000 jobs that economists polled by Bloomberg were forecasting.

More than half of the new jobs came from Ontario and Quebec, which added 378,000 and 248,000 jobs, respectively. But every province added at least a small number of jobs.

Ontario’s bounce back was largely a result of the province playing catch-up to what happened elsewhere a month earlier, as the province was still largely locked down until the beginning of June, unlike most of the rest of the country, which began to cautiously reopen in May.

Indeed, Statistics Canada said that the country’s biggest city, Toronto, was still mostly locked down during the week it conducted its jobs survey for June, so any surge in Toronto’s job numbers after the city entered Phase 2 of its reopening was excluded from this set of numbers and will likely show up in July’s data.

N.B. almost back to pre-pandemic employment

New Brunswick added 22,000 jobs, meaning the province now has 97 per cent of the jobs it had pre-pandemic, making the province the national leader in the recovery.

The jobs were fairly evenly split between full- and part-time, with 488,000 of the former and 465,000 of the latter.

At the lowest point in April, Statistics Canada says 5.5 million Canadian jobs were negatively impacted by the pandemic, with three million jobs completely gone and another 2.5 million being reduced in terms of hours or wages in some way.

By June, that first number was down by about two million, but the data agency says there are still 3.1 million workers who’ve either lost their jobs or have been otherwise negatively impacted by COVID-19.

‘Not out of the woods yet’

“Despite a lot of jobs being recouped since April, we’re not out of the woods yet,” economist Brendon Bernard at employment marketplace Indeed.com said of the numbers. Adding a million jobs in June on top of May’s gain means in broad terms Canada has “recouped about 40 per cent of initial job losses in two months [but] bringing back the other 60 per cent and mending the longer-term fallout could be more challenging.”

The pandemic disproportionately hit women’s employment, and the numbers suggest they are not recovering as quickly as male workers are. 

“Some of it reflects the facts that the industries that are coming back more quickly tend to have more male employees,” Royal Bank’s deputy chief economist Dawn Desjardins said in an interview.

She notes that sectors such as retail, tourism, food and accommodation have been among the slowest to rebound. “Those are heavily female dominated and we are not seeing the same degree of recovery,” she said.

For women who make $16 an hour or less, employment is still at less than three-quarters of what it was in February. For men in that wage group, employment has bounced back to 84 per cent of its previous level.

And working parents continue to fall behind four months into the pandemic. Nearly one in seven working mothers are still getting less than half the paid work they were before. For working fathers, it’s about one in 12.

“Women are disproportionately carrying the load of unpaid labour,” Desjardins said.

She added that September will be a key month for the recovery, as schools theoretically reopening should take over some of the burden that’s currently being primarily borne by women. “What is child care going to look like in September,” she said. “It could hold back women from participating.”

Leah Nord with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce was also cautiously optimistic about the overall numbers, although she said that the hard-hit accommodation and food services industry — which still has just two-thirds of the jobs it had in February — faces an uphill climb to full recovery.

“We still have a long way to go before we return to a fully engaged workforce,” she said. “Any recovery will be underpinned by how effectively we get Canadians back to work.”

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The 'shop local' message is everywhere, but it's tough resisting deals during a pandemic – CBC.ca

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Are you on board the shop local movement that’s rolling across Canada?

The encouragement to support neighbourhood businesses is coming from all quarters as the economy struggles to emerge from the financial devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether it’s provincial and municipal initiatives, chambers of commerce programs, highly publicized incentive campaigns backed by financial giants, or small signs in front of individual businesses, the message is the same: Show your local entrepreneurs some extra love during these difficult times — it’s important for helping the economy recover. 

While recent polls suggest most Canadians support the idea, actually getting people to prioritize shopping locally over scoring the best deal and the convenience of shopping online is a tough sell during a pandemic, some experts say.

Consumers lack confidence

The pandemic has left many people out of work and feeling insecure about their finances, which could make finding the lowest prices more important than supporting local small businesses.

The Bank of Canada’s most recent survey of consumer expectations showed that virtually all indicators have deteriorated due to the impact of the pandemic, including people’s expectations for wages, spending, labour market conditions, inflation and growth in house prices.

“Everybody is trying to find a deal because they don’t know how long their money is going to last,” said economist Armine Yalnizyan.

And maintaining low prices can be a challenge for small enterprises, she said.

“They have a hard time providing deep-cut bargains, especially now.”

A billboard ad from American Express encouraging shoppers to spend locally is on display over Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square on Aug. 4. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Still, surveys done since the pandemic began suggest there is growing support for small businesses in this country. A key finding from a Leger poll conducted in April was that “Canadians say they are buying local products more often or for the first time.”

American Express Canada said 83 per cent of participants in an online poll in June agreed it was time to support the small business community, while 76 per cent said they were “determined to shop local more than in the past.” The poll wasn’t randomized, but a comparable random poll would have a margin of error of four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Who says they don’t support small businesses?

But Wayne Smith, a professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management who specializes in consumer behaviour, says what people tell researchers can differ from how they actually behave in the real world.

“It’s kind of like asking if people like puppies,” he said. “Everyone’s going to say they like puppies. But how many people go out and get a puppy?”

Smith compares the shop local phenomenon to consumers committing to shop at stores that specialize in environmentally friendly, sustainable products.

“Some do it, but it’s a relatively small proportion of the population,” he said. “Otherwise, Walmart would be out of business.”

People walk and shop in Ottawa’s ByWard Market on June 25. (Hugo Belanger/CBC)

Buying decisions are based on “perceived value,” Smith said. Locally sourced goods or services must be of equal or greater quality than those found elsewhere if consumers are going to follow through on their good intentions, he said.

Julia Gray of Toronto said she and her family are happy to shop locally as much as possible and support small businesses instead of large corporate chains.

However, as an artist, she is also very value conscious, she said.

“My income is always a bit in flux, so, as a family, we’ve learned to be careful about our spending.”

Julia Gray of Toronto shops regularly at her local green grocer. She said she prefers to support small businesses instead of large corporate chains, and the pandemic has made her even more selective about where her money goes. (Submitted by Julia Gray)

Even so, the pandemic inspired her to make a more concerted effort to support her neighbouring businesses, she said.

“Instead of ordering from Pizza Pizza or some other corporate pizza place, let’s order from the local place where their kids go to school with our kids,” she said. “These places won’t survive if we don’t help them.”

Amazon sales booming

Gray says small businesses can also be preferable from a health perspective.

“We have folks in our family who are immunocompromised,” she said. “We don’t want to go where there are big groups and you can be more exposed to the virus. Smaller shops don’t have as many people in them.”

She avoids shopping at Amazon, she said, because it’s one way to express her values.

“You can vote, and you can decide where to spend your money,” she said. “We think about workers — are they treated fairly? Are they protected? And in whose hands does our money end up?”

But Lonnie Delisle, a choir director in Vancouver, is a fan of Amazon.

“It’s so convenient. The price point is good, the selection is good,” he said. “The ease at which you can find things and make the purchases. Amazon is exceedingly user-friendly.”

Packages are sorted to be shipped inside of an Amazon fulfilment centre in Robbinsville, N.J., in this photo from November 2017. It’s difficult for small local businesses to compete with an online behemoth like Amazon. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Delisle said he tries to shop with Canadian companies as much as possible, often checking the Bay or Canadian Tire first.

“But when you need something, and [Amazon has] what’s available, that’s where we go.”

Amazon has thrived during the pandemic, with sales jumping 40 per cent compared to the same time last year. Revenue from international markets such as Canada has also surged due to increased demand.

Big businesses offer incentives for shopping locally

However, even some very big businesses in Canada are trying to get the message out about the importance of small businesses.

The Royal Bank and American Express Canada are both spending big bucks on multimedia advertising campaigns to encourage consumers to shop locally, and offering financial incentives to customers who support small businesses.

RBC’s Canada United campaign offers customers extra points on their RBC Rewards card by shopping locally.

The bank also produced a video about the importance of small businesses and will donate five cents to a special fund every time someone views the video, or likes or shares it on social media. Entrepreneurs will then be able to apply to the fund for grants up to $5,000 to help them cover costs associated with keeping their business afloat through the pandemic. 

American Express Canada’s Shop Small initiative gives cardholders $5 in credits when they spend at least $10 at up to 10 different small businesses, to earn a maximum of $50 in free money. The company has also created a Shop Small Map to direct shoppers to eligible stores.

“It’s good for our economy,” said Kerri-Ann Santaguida, vice-president and general manager of merchant services for American Express Canada. “It’s about the vibrancy of neighbourhoods across the country.”

Economist Armine Yalnizyan says household debt was a huge issue in Canada prior to the pandemic and she worries about what will happen when CERB payments stop. (Christopher Katsarov/The Atkinson Foundation)

Economist Armine Yalnizyan said the strategies of American Express Canada and RBC are similar to that of the federal government, with its rent relief program and small business loans, because they recognize that businesses are the engine that will pull Canada’s economy through the crisis.

We can’t have resilient communities without resilient small businesses,” said Yalnizyan, who holds a fellowship on the future of jobs from the Atkinson Foundation, a Toronto-based charitable organization focused on social and economic justice.

The fact is, she said, big financial institutions such as RBC and American Express Canada depend on a healthy economy.

“They’re trying to keep as many businesses afloat as possible,” she said, “which will minimize the increase in permanent layoffs.”

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Ottawa announces deals with two international companies for COVID-19 vaccines – The Globe and Mail

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Nurse Kath Olmstead, right, gives volunteer Melissa Harting, of Harpersville, N.Y., an injection as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway, on July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y.

Hans Pennink/The Associated Press

Ottawa has struck deals with two international drug companies to purchase their candidate COVID-19 vaccines for distribution in Canada, federal officials said on Wednesday.

Details of the agreements reached with Moderna and Pfizer Inc., including the cost of the vaccines, have not been disclosed, but Public Service and Procurement Canada Minister Anita Anand said that millions of doses have been ordered from the two companies for delivery in 2021. She added similar arrangements were being sought with other suppliers, with options to increase orders based on need.

“We are working on all possible fronts and diversifying our vaccine supply chain,” Ms. Anand said.

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Though the terms of each agreement vary, both vaccines will ultimately require Health Canada regulatory approval. This will depend, in part, on how they perform in clinical trials over the coming months.

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During a news conference in Toronto, Ms. Anand said parallel efforts were under way to boost supplies of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs as part of “preparing Canada for mass vaccination” against COVID-19.

At the same briefing, Navdeep Bains, the Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said his department has formed a vaccine task force to provide the federal government with expert advice on which vaccines to prioritize for purchase on the global market and which Canadian-made vaccines to support with additional funding and production capacity to enable them to advance to clinical trials.

“Priority number one is to make sure that we have safe and effective vaccines for all Canadians,” Mr. Bains said. “Long term, we also want to build a strong industrial base for [Canada’s] life sciences sector.”

The widespread distribution of a successful vaccine is widely regard as the only viable solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the nearly 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development worldwide, about 30 have advanced to human testing. As of this week, six have now reached Phase 3 clinical trials designed to measure vaccine efficacy by administering doses to thousands or tens of thousands of individuals and tracking their rates of infection over time. Among the six are the two vaccines that Canada has so far arranged to purchase.

The vaccine developed by Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, yielded promising results in an early study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Pfizer’s vaccine was developed jointly with BioNTech, a company based in Germany. That partnership has already stuck similar deals to supply its vaccine to Japan, the United States and Britain.

BioNTech confirmed that part of the manufacturing of the Canadian order would take place in Canada.

The federal announcement also included $56-million for Ottawa company Variation Biotechnologies Inc. and $3-million for Nova Scotia based IMV Inc. to support clinical trials of two made-in-Canada vaccine candidates. Earlier this year the federal government provided funding to Medicago, a Quebec company that last month launched Canada’s first clinical COVID-19 vaccine trial.

As of Wednesday, 133 out of 180 volunteers have been injected with the Medicago vaccine as part of a Phase 1 trial, which is primarily a safety test of the vaccine.

The multiple investments are a reflection of a broader awareness that ultimately several vaccines could be needed to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale, said Alex Romanovschi, medical director for GSK Canada, which has partnered with Medicago on its trial.

“At the end of the day … no one company will be able to cover the entire world,” Dr. Romanovschi said.

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The federal government has inked deals with both Pfizer and Moderna to get access to millions of doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says the vaccines must still finish human trials and be determined safe and effective against COVID-19. If Health Canada approves them, she says, the deals would ensure Canadians are among the first in line for doses next year. The Canadian Press

While several international vaccines are further ahead in testing than the leading Canadian candidates, experts have argued that Canada should complement its international purchases with efforts to accelerate vaccine development and production capacity at home at a time when it’s not clear which vaccines will ultimately work best.

Prioritizing among domestic vaccine projects, as well as potential international partnerships, is part of the mandate of the 12-member vaccine task force, which began its work in early June.

“We’re making investments that are needed now to be sure that something works out,” said Joanne Langley, a professor of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Mark Lievonen, a former president of Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. who is co-chairing the task force with Dr. Langley, said he is leading a subcommittee that is looking specifically at manufacturing challenges that vaccines makers will face in Canada.

Canadian participation in vaccine production could become crucial if international shipments are delayed at their country of origin because of demand at home or for other reasons.

A hint of the problems that can arise when relying on international sources is evident in the continued holdup of the delivery of a vaccine from CanSino Biologics – a Chinese company that has partnered with Canada’s National Research Council – for a clinical trial in Halifax. That trial was to have started two months ago but the vaccine has so far not been released by Chinese customs.

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Mr. Bains declined to speculate on the cause of the delay but said the issue underscored the need to keep many options open.

Despite this outlook, not every COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Canada has managed to attract federal funding.

On Wednesday, Providence Therapeutics released results from preclincial tests of its mRNA vaccine candidate that is based on the same technology as the Moderna and Pfizer candidates. The company is now seeking support to move ahead with clinical trials.

Brad Sorenson, the company’s chief executive officer, said that the results show the vaccine has the potential to be as good or better than international competitors.

“The question is, does Canada want to be a buyer or a seller?” he said.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

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Dollar wallows and stocks inch higher as stimulus eyed – Reuters

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SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The dollar languished and just about everything else rose on Thursday, as markets took patchy U.S. economic data as a harbinger of ever more stimulus and brinkmanship on Capitol Hill as a sign that a deal on a new U.S. stimulus package is close.

FILE PHOTO: A money changer counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Diyarbakir, Turkey May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

Following Wall Street’s lead, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended the week’s rally by 0.3% to a fresh six-and-a-half-month high.

Japan’s Nikkei index was steady and Asian currencies were on the march, with the Australian dollar gaining to around 72 U.S. cents, and the Korean won and Malaysian ringgit touching their strongest since March.

S&P 500 futures firmed, oil rose and gold inched back toward a record high hit overnight.

“If it’s got a pulse, people will buy it now,” said Rob Carnell, Asia-Pacific head of research at ING in Singapore.

He said it was clear the global recovery is not a “V-shaped” rebound, but markets are focused almost completely on the help that fiscal and monetary policymakers are providing, even if the next U.S. government package is likely to reduce spending from current levels.

“Short of apocalyptic news, we are going to see these markets carrying on going up because central banks are printing and printing (money) and it simply has to go somewhere,” Carnell said.

Top congressional Democrats and White House officials appeared to harden their stances on the new coronavirus relief plan on Wednesday, with few hints of compromise or that an unemployment benefit as generous as $600 a week could continue.

But investors interpreted Senate Republican Roy Blunt’s remark that “if there’s not a deal by Friday, there won’t be a deal,” as a sign there would be a compromise.

Federal Reserve policymakers also encouraged lawmakers to provide more aid.

And in any case, plenty is on the way – with a modest selloff in the bond market after the U.S. Treasury flagged borrowing a gigantic $947 billion this quarter, about $270 billion more than it previously estimated.

The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. government debt rose 3 basis points and was steady at 0.5445% on Thursday.

EARNINGS SURPRISE

Positive sentiment on Wall Street was further bolstered by company earnings, with a surprise quarterly profit from Walt Disney Co and a slew of upbeat healthcare results.

The Nasdaq minted a new record peak and closing high while the S&P 500 was up 0.6% and is less than 2% below its record high hit in February.

In Asia, it was Singaporean bank DBS bringing some cheer, with a shallower-than-feared plunge in second-quarter profit, helping shares in Southeast Asia’s biggest lender gain.

Investors are watching a crucial Indian central bank meeting later on Thursday, with around two thirds of economists polled by Reuters expecting an easing in interest rates.

U.S. jobs data due at 1230 GMT provides the next read on the pace of hiring, while sterling also traded cautiously ahead of a Bank of England policy decision due at 0600 GMT.

No changes are expected but some traders are looking for a dovish tilt in language.

“There is still a bit of uncertainty around whether the Bank will eventually move the policy rate into negative territory,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk near the Bund Financial Bull statue, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on The Bund in Shanghai, China March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

“Pricing expectations are at 0.05% (compared with a current rate at 0.1%), so some in the market are betting on a move.”

Sterling last sat 0.1% firmer at $1.3127 and other majors were steady – with the euro at $1.1871 and the yen at 105.55 per dollar.

In commodity markets, Brent crude inched back toward a five-month high touched overnight, rising 0.1% to $45.23 per barrel and U.S. crude was steady at $42.15 per barrel.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.

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