Canada posted its first monthly decline in jobs since April amid tightened public health restrictions in December, and economists warn the losses are likely to continue in January as the number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 63,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate edged up to 8.6 per cent compared with 8.5 per cent in November.
“Due to both the continuing rise in virus cases to open the new year and the further curtailments of activity since the last survey, another month of job losses could be on the horizon in January,” CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said.
“The weak jobs report, combined with the recent appreciation of the Canadian dollar, will put pressure on the Bank of Canada to ease monetary policy further.”
Statistics Canada said its report was a snapshot of labour market conditions for the week of Dec. 6 to 12. It noted that additional public health measures were put in place in many provinces after that period and would likely to be reflected in its January labour force survey results.
Several provinces have also further extended COVID-19 restrictions as public health officials blamed holiday gatherings for a rise in infections.
TD Bank senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said the resurgence of the virus is hitting Canada hard.
“Sharp increases in caseloads and hospitalizations are leaving provinces with little choice but to impose or prolong restrictions on an economy that is but a shadow of itself,” Thanabalasingam wrote in a report.
“It will be a rocky road for the Canadian economy until vaccines can be widely distributed and normal life can resume.”
Mendes noted that when the restrictions began to ease last spring and summer, the rebound in the economy came quickly.
“The good news is that last summer we saw a pretty sharp snapback at a time when virus cases were low and public health restrictions were eased, so that should give people some optimism that after this rough patch is hopefully behind us, the economy can bounce back quite well in the short-term,” he said.
The job losses in December ended a streak of monthly job gains that began in May, when initial restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic began to ease.
Full-time employment in December rose by 36,500, but there was a loss of 99,000 part-time jobs.
Statistics Canada said that total hours worked fell for the first time since April as they declined 0.3 per cent in December.
By April last year the COVID-19 economic shutdown had directly affected 5.5 million Canadian workers, including 3.0 million who had lost their job and 2.5 million who were employed but had experienced COVID-related absences from work.
The number affected was 1.1 million in December, including a drop in employment of 636,000 since February and 488,000 more Canadians who were employed but working less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID.
December employment fell in industries most directly affected by the new and continuing public health measures.
The number of jobs in the services-producing side of the economy fell for the first time since April as it lost a total of 74,000 in December. The goods-producing sector gained 11,300 jobs.
The accommodation and food services industry lost 56,700 jobs for the month, while the “other services” category, which includes hair salons, laundry services and other areas affected by public health measures, lost 30,800. The information, culture and recreation group lost 18,800.
However, the manufacturing sector gained 15,000 jobs in December, driven by an increase in Ontario.
The share of Canadians working from home was 28.6 per cent in December.
Financial data firm Refinitiv says economists on average had expected the report to show a loss of 27,500 jobs for December. The unemployment rate was expected to be 8.6 per cent.
Here’s a quick look at Canada’s December employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
- Unemployment rate: 8.6 per cent (8.5)
- Employment rate: 59.3 per cent (59.5)
- Participation rate: 64.9 per cent (65.1)
- Number unemployed: 1,755,800 (1,735,200)
- Number working: 18,553,000 (18,615,600)
- Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 17.7 per cent (17.4)
- Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 7.5 per cent (7.4)
- Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 6.9 per cent (6.8)
Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
- Newfoundland and Labrador 12.3 per cent (12.2)
- Prince Edward Island 10.1 per cent (10.2)
- Nova Scotia 8.6 per cent (6.4)
- New Brunswick 9.3 per cent (9.6)
- Quebec 6.7 per cent (7.2)
- Ontario 9.5 per cent (9.1)
- Manitoba 8.2 per cent (7.4)
- Saskatchewan 7.8 per cent (6.9)
- Alberta 11.0 per cent (11.1)
- British Columbia 7.2 per cent (7.1)
Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
- St. John’s, N.L. 8.7 per cent (9.3)
- Halifax 7.3 per cent (6.6)
- Moncton, N.B. 9.0 per cent (8.9)
- Saint John, N.B. 11.0 per cent (10.2)
- Saguenay, Que. 5.7 per cent (5.2)
- Quebec City 4.1 per cent (4.3)
- Sherbrooke, Que. 6.0 per cent (6.4)
- Trois-Rivieres, Que. 5.9 per cent (5.7)
- Montreal 8.1 per cent (8.5)
- Gatineau, Que. 7.0 per cent (7.2)
- Ottawa 6.6 per cent (7.1)
- Kingston, Ont. 5.9 per cent (7.2)
- Peterborough, Ont. 13.5 per cent (11.9)
- Oshawa, Ont. 7.8 per cent (7.9)
- Toronto 10.7 per cent (10.7)
- Hamilton, Ont. 8.1 per cent (8.0)
- St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 9.1 per cent (7.2)
- Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 8.5 per cent (9.1)
- Brantford, Ont. 6.1 per cent (6.6)
- Guelph, Ont. 5.8 per cent (7.0)
- London, Ont. 7.7 per cent (8.4)
- Windsor, Ont. 11.1 per cent (10.6)
- Barrie, Ont. 12.1 per cent (10.6)
- Greater Sudbury, Ont. 7.7 per cent (7.6)
- Thunder Bay, Ont. 7.6 per cent (7.5)
- Winnipeg 8.4 per cent (8.1)
- Regina 6.3 per cent (5.4)
- Saskatoon 8.1 per cent (7.8)
- Calgary 10.4 per cent (10.7)
- Edmonton 11.1 per cent (11.3)
- Kelowna, B.C. 4.5 per cent (4.7)
- Abbotsford-Mission, B.C. 8.4 per cent (8.1)
- Vancouver 7.4 per cent (8.1)
- Victoria 5.8 per cent (6.3)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021
Trudeau says he'll make sure 'Canada's views are heard' on Keystone XL – CBC.ca
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he will continue to press Canada’s case for the Keystone XL pipeline project with the incoming Biden administration in the U.S., which is poised to rescind the presidential permit allowing cross-border construction tomorrow.
But the prime minister offered few details about his government’s next steps as the two countries start a new phase in their relationship.
“We’ve had a clear and consistent position supporting this project for years. Our government is making sure that Canada’s views are heard and considered by the incoming administration at the highest levels,” he told a news briefing today in front of his home at Rideau Cottage.
WATCH | Trudeau says he will continue to support Keystone XL
“I’m really looking forward to working closely with the new president and his team to create jobs and build back better together, for us all.”
Reports emerged Sunday that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit through executive action on his first day in office. The on-again, off-again project would have carried more than 800,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day to refineries in Texas.
Trudeau, Kenney to talk later today
Trudeau said he will talk about the project later today with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who has said he will seek legal damages if the project is scrapped.
When asked by reporters if the federal government would support such legal action, Trudeau said he supports the project and he, along with Canadian officials in Washington, will continue to argue Canada’s position.
“We understand, of course, that it is a commitment that the candidate Joe Biden made to cancel this pipeline. At the same time, we continue to demonstrate the leadership Canada has shown in fighting climate change,” he said.
“We’re going to continue to make that case and I look forward to speaking with President Biden in the coming days.”
Trudeau also said he raised the project with Biden when they spoke before Christmas.
Kenney has urged Biden administration officials to immediately meet with Canadian leadership to discuss the project’s future, saying a “retroactive veto” like the one Biden is considering could threaten other critical energy links.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has called on Trudeau to reach out to the incoming U.S. administration to ensure Keystone moves forward.
“Keystone XL is a project of national significance that supports countless workers on both sides of the border,” he said in an email statement.
The leaders of two of the federal opposition parties have welcomed the news.
On Monday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh applauded Biden’s anticipated executive action, saying it contrasts with Trudeau’s continued support for some natural resources projects.
“I agree with that decision. I do not support the project,” Singh told reporters. “This is the direction that the future requires. We’ve got to fight the climate crisis.”
At a press conference Monday, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul called Biden a “climate warrior” and said that Canada’s leadership is “not serious about tackling the climate emergency.”
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday – CBC.ca
Some provincial authorities saw encouraging signs in the fight against COVID-19 on Monday, even as experts warned that it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the data and provinces scrambled to deal with a looming shortage of Pfizer vaccines.
As of early Tuesday morning, Canada had reported 715,072 cases of COVID-19, with 73,919 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 18,120.
Officials in both Quebec and Manitoba noted that case numbers have dropped slightly in recent days and suggested that their populations’ efforts to control the virus could be paying off.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said case numbers in his province appeared to be dipping.
“We’re definitely not out of the woods,” he told a news conference as the province reported 118 cases. “We certainly still have a long way to go before we can return to normal.”
Roussin said the province is looking at easing some restrictions in the coming days, but that any changes would be gradual.
Quebec reported 1,634 new COVID-19 cases, which included about 200 from the previous day that weren’t noted because of a delay. The province had broken the 3,000-case mark in early January and has a seven-day rolling average of more than 1,900 cases a day.
Health Minister Christian Dubé noted on Twitter that the Quebec City region in particular had seen a decline in the number of new infections recently, which he saw as a sign that “the sacrifices that we’re asking of Quebecers are bearing fruit.” However, he asked Quebecers to continue their efforts in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations, which rose Monday after three straight days of decline.
Universite de Montreal public health professor Benoit Masse said it will take another week or two to know whether the downward trend will be sustained and to gauge the impact of the recently imposed curfew. He said the province should know more by Feb. 8, when curfew restrictions are set to lift.
Ontario also reported its lowest number of COVID-19 cases since early January, with 2,578 new infections, but the province completed a little more than 40,000 tests Sunday, compared with more than 60,000 the day before.
British Columbia reported 301 new cases on Monday, its lowest increase in over two months. However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the risk of spreading the virus remains high.
She said there is increased transmission in the Interior and Northern health regions because of social gatherings, which are what caused a jump in infections in B.C.’s Lower Mainland a few months ago.
The news was less positive in New Brunswick, where the Edmundston region entered the province’s highest pandemic-alert level, ushering in new restrictions on businesses in the region after a record-breaking number of new cases on Sunday. The province reported 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after recording 36 the day before.
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 290 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.
Across the North, there were no new cases confirmed in the Northwest Territories, though officials are investigating probable cases in Fort Liard. There were no new cases reported in Yukon or Nunavut.
Vaccine supply questions
Provinces were also reviewing their vaccine programs to contend with a reduced supply of Pfizer-BioNTech doses after the company said last week it was cutting back on promised deliveries over the next month as it works to expand production.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that his province was pausing appointments for people to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine due to the supply shortage.
“Even with a new shipment of Pfizer expected later this week, we won’t have enough supply to continue with new first-dose appointments,” he said, noting that the province had set aside vaccines for people who were due for their second doses, and those appointments would continue. Alberta reported 474 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 11 additional deaths.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, had a similar message as her colleague in Manitoba on Monday, saying Alberta is “making progress” but is “not out of the woods yet.”
Manitoba stopped booking new appointments over the weekend, but health officials announced Monday that those bookings would resume, with room for about 4,000 new appointments this week and next.
Ontario also acknowledged it was working with a supply crunch that would see its next two shipments of Pfizer vaccine reduced by 20 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the situation would last until late February or early March when larger shipments begin to arrive.
The province announced that a new hospital set to open in Vaughan would be used to relieve a capacity crunch because of rising COVID-19 admissions. Elliott and Premier Doug Ford said the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital would add 35 new critical care beds and 150 medical beds to the province’s bed capacity.
Hospital capacity has been a concern in many provinces, with doctors in Ontario and Quebec being told to prepare for the possibility of implementing protocols to decide which patients get access to life-saving care in the case of extreme intensive care unit overcrowding.
Nationally, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are still increasing, according to Canada’s chief public health officer. Dr. Theresa Tam noted that hospitalizations tend to lag one or more weeks behind a surge in cases.
“These impacts affect everyone, as the health-care workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs,” she wrote in a statement.
She said an average of 4,705 COVID-19 patients a day were being treated in Canadian hospitals during the last seven days, including an average of 875 in ICUs.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
WATCH | WHO chief warns of ‘catastrophic moral failure’ over vaccine distribution:
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 95.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 52.7 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than two million.
In the Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming White House press secretary says his administration does not intend to lift coronavirus travel restrictions for Europe, the U.K., Ireland and Brazil.
The message from Jen Psaki came Monday evening after the White House said President Donald Trump had lifted the restrictions for those countries, effective Jan. 26. Psaki then tweeted: “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.”
She went on: “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Trump imposed the travel restrictions early in the pandemic to slow the spread of the coronavirus to the U.S. They prevented most people without American citizenship or residency from travelling to the U.S. from the affected regions.
Brazil kicked off a nationwide COVID-19 immunization program on Monday by distributing doses of a vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech following an emergency use authorization, although the pace of vaccination will depend on delayed imports.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday the government aimed to compensate for a reduction in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc. with those from other providers.
South Africa, which has yet to receive its first coronavirus vaccine doses, will be getting nine million from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry said. The hardest-hit country in Africa, South Africa has seen more than 1.3 million reported cases and more than 37,000 deaths.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the government will extend physical distancing measures due to expire this week as the city remains on heightened alert after the number of COVID-19 infections climbed back into triple digits.
China was dealing with coronavirus outbreaks across its frigid northeast on Tuesday, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year holiday. The country reported another 118 cases on Tuesday, with 43 of those in the province of Jilin. Hebei province just outside Beijing saw another 35 cases, while Heilongjiang province bordering Russia reported 27 new cases.
Beijing, where some residential communities and outlying villages have been placed under lockdown, reported just one new case.
A fourth northern province, Liaoning, has also imposed quarantines and travel restrictions to prevent the virus from further spreading, part of measures being imposed across much of the country to prevent new outbreaks during the holiday.
Authorities have called on citizens not to travel, ordered schools closed a week early and conducted testing on a massive scale.
Hebei’s provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, has been building a complex of prefabricated housing units to allow the quarantine of more than 3,000 people as it struggles to control more infections.
China has reported a total of 88,454 cases and 4,635 deaths since the novel coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. China does not include people who test positive but have no symptoms in its count.
A multinational team of investigators from the World Health Organization is currently in Wuhan undergoing two weeks of quarantine before beginning field visits in hopes of gaining clues into the origins of the pandemic.
New Zealand said it was looking to secure a small batch of COVID-19 vaccines early to protect its high-risk workers, as pressure mounts on the government to vaccinate its population.
Pakistan on Monday approved the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a government statement said, two days after AstraZeneca’s vaccine developed with Oxford University received a similar authorization.
In Europe, eurozone finance ministers pledged continued fiscal support for their economies on Monday and discussed the design of post-pandemic recovery plans as the European Commission warned the COVID-19 crisis was making the bloc’s economic imbalances worse.
Norway has pledged to help fight the global pandemic by donating vaccines to low-income countries as soon as the vaccines are approved, its foreign aid minister said Tuesday.
“Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines reach people in the world’s poorest countries isn’t just about being charitable or acting on a moral imperative. It’s also in the best interest of every country to do so,” Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Norwegian minister for International Development, told The Associated Press.
“If the virus is circulating in one country, the rest of the world remains at risk.”
Ulstein gave no timeframe or figures for vaccine quantities but said the rollout will take place “in parallel to the current vaccination of the Norwegian population.”
Norway’s move came a day after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lambasted drugmakers’ profits and vaccine inequalities around the world.
Swiss authorities, meanwhile, have started mass-testing residents and visitors in St. Moritz after a new variant of the coronavirus was detected in the upscale ski resort area.
People were asked to register online and come in for free tests to a local gym and a beverage store on Tuesday after two luxury hotels were put under quarantine Monday. All schools, kindergartens and skiing schools were closed.
Officials said at least two dozen cases were detected in the two hotels, which local media identified as the Palace and the Kempinski hotels. The Kempinski said late Monday that health authorities had confirmed cases of the mutated coronavirus among the hotel’s employees.
“Local health officials have ordered that all guests and staff at the hotel should be quarantined to minimize exposure to the public,” a spokeswoman for Kempinski told The Associated Press. “The hotel is strictly following the advice of the local health authorities and World Health Organization guidelines.”
All people in St. Moritz who were five and older were asked to participate in the test, which was voluntary. Swiss media reported that the variant detected in St. Moritz was first found in South Africa.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 8:50 a.m. ET
Canadian snowbirds getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida face backlash from some residents – CBC.ca
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state discourages visitors from coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up.
That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout.
“They’re taking it from people that are ahead of them … It’s not their stockpile,” said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa.
Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment.
And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians.
“They absolutely should not be here,” she said. “It’s beyond infuriating.”
WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine rollout is so slow:
Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he’s trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine.
And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state’s U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: “Vaccines must go first to Floridians.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccines must go first to Floridians, starting with our health care and front line workers and most vulnerable populations. This week, I asked for answers from <a href=”https://twitter.com/HealthyFla?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HealthyFla</a> and more info on Florida’s vaccine distribution: <a href=”https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7″>https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP”>https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP</a>
It’s up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he’s not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement.
“We’re a transient state,” he said. “People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida.”
Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America
Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday.
“Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism,” the segment said.
The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday.
Papple, 66, told CBC News he has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida.
“We live here, we pay taxes,” he said. “We’re all in this together. It’s a world problem and everybody should be banding together.”
He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto’s Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated.
But these aren’t cases of “vaccine tourism,” he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter.
“They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines,” said Firestone.
Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down.
“As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story.”
To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida’s vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
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