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Coronavirus: Ontario to begin phased reopening of economy next week, government source says – Global News

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TORONTO — Ontario will begin to gradually reopen its economy next week, starting with regions that have fewer COVID-19 cases, The Canadian Press has learned.

Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce Monday that the state of emergency declared last month will be allowed to expire as scheduled on Feb. 9, said a senior government source with knowledge of the decision.

According to the plan, the province will have an “emergency brake” in place to allow the government to quickly move a region into lockdown if it “experiences a rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if the health-care system becomes overwhelmed.”

The measure is meant to help deal with the risk posed by new variants of COVID-19, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

READ MORE: Ontario labour minister says economy reopening details coming next week

The current stay-at-home order will remain in place in much of the province until each region transitions back into a colour-coded framework that allows the province to rank health units based on case numbers and trends.

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The phased reopening of the economy will start in four regions where transmission of the virus is low.

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Health units in Hastings Prince Edward, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington, Renfrew County, and Timiskaming are expected to move into the least-restrictive green zone on Wednesday, which means restaurants and non-essential businesses can reopen.

On the week of Feb. 15, all remaining regions except three hot spots in the Greater Toronto Area are set to move to the framework based on their local case rates.

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region are expected to be the last to make that transition on the week of Feb. 22, but the source said any sudden increase in cases could delay that plan.

A provincial lockdown was imposed in late December and was followed by the state of emergency and a stay-at-home order that took effect Jan. 14 as COVID-19 rates surged.

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While cases have since declined, public health officials have said the spread of more contagious variants of COVID-19 are a concern.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, has said he would like to see daily cases drop below 1,000 and the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units below 150 before lifting restrictions.

Read more:
Ontario reports 1,670 new coronavirus cases, province notes an overestimation due to data migration

Ontario reported 1,670 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, although 125 of them were older infections from Toronto that weren’t previously recorded by the province.

Public health officials noted that updates to the provincial case database were causing fluctuations in this week’s tallies.

The province also said there were 325 patients with COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units, with 225 on ventilators.

Forty-five new deaths related to the virus were reported Friday, bringing the total number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in the province to 6,438.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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The Economy, Oil Demand And Prices – Forbes

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Given data lags and uncertainty, it is often said that the Fed guidance of the economy is like someone driving through a tunnel with the windshield painted black, relying on the rearview mirrors and bouncing off the walls. Given current divergent views amongst the political tribes, I would add as a corollary that there’s a child in the backseat hitting the driver with a pillow, screaming slow down they’re scared, while another child does the same, except screaming they need a bathroom and the car should speed up.

Current debt levels now prevailing in most of the world’s governments are outside of historical experience, so far as I know, and could have a significant impact on future growth and interest rates. Continued stimuli to promote economic recovery could mean low interest rates and rapid growth, which would certainly fuel stronger oil demand. Or it could result in inflation and thus high interest rates, leading to a new recession. Similarly, attempting to pay down the debt could slow economic growth and depress oil prices.

Aside from growth levels, interest rates have an impact on energy investment and could influence future fuel mixes. For example, low interest rates theoretically favor capital-intensive types of energy, including nuclear and renewables, along with long-term projects like deepwater oil and gas fields. (High interest rates favor shale oil and gas, because of their shorter payoff period.) It is possible that the recent surge in solar and wind power investment reflects recent low interest rates, although mandates and subsidies are probably more influential.

The heavy debt levels could, on the other hand, reduce subsidies for renewables including electric vehicles. Although it has become a cliché to claim that solar and wind are cheaper even than coal power, this is very misleading: at the least, new investment would be required to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The International Energy Agency, in its latest World Energy Outlook, projects investment needed in its scenarios, and the difference between the Stated Policies Scenario and the Sustainable Development Scenario would be $340 billion a year in the 2020s and reaches $1 trillion per year in the 2030s. (I’ve railed against the injustice of giving well-to-do citizens large grants to buy electric vehicles, which are one of the most expensive ways of reducing GHG that is given serios consideration.)

And where some talk about a new commodity supercycle, I worry that there is a good chance that instead there will be a collapse in asset values, with markets possibly entering bubble territory. One famous, possibly apocryphal story, is that Joe Kennedy (patriarch of the political dynasty) sold off his stock holdings just before the crash of 1929 after hearing a shoeshine boy give a stock tip: that convinced him the market was overbought. Similarly, it would seem that the roaring bull market for certain stocks such as Gamestop

GME
and Tesla

TSLA
might not be the result of fundamentals but rather the current expansionist monetary policy, which cannot last forever.

And the growing use of SPACs and the surging value of Bitcoin also reminds me of the late Charles Kindleberger’s book, Manias, Panics and Crashes which describes how the invention of new forms of credit led to an expansion of the monetary supply, which caused asset bubbles followed by crashes. This could lead to a reversion to value stocks, such as oil and gas producers as well as utilities, ESG notwithstanding.

To be honest, though, I feel kind of like I’m in the passenger seat of the Fed’s car shouting, “Go left! No, Right! No, Stop!” Perhaps the next killer app will be a GPS for monetary policy.

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UK's Sunak says vaccine passport idea might help the economy – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak said the idea of giving people vaccine passports or certificates to allow them to enter venues or events might be a way to help the country and its economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously it is a complicated but potentially very relevant question for helping us reopen those parts of our country like mass events,” Sunak told BBC television on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that the government would hold a review to consider the scientific, moral, philosophical and ethical questions about using vaccine certificates for people who have received a coronavirus shot, which could help entertainment and hospitality venues reopen.

(Reporting by William Schomberg and David Milliken; Editing by David Clarke)

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CBI calls for 'lasting budget boost' to protect UK economy – Yahoo Movies Canada

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A street poster 'Stay Safe - Make Space' seen in Dublin during Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown. 
On Saturday, 30 January, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The CBI outlined three key areas for the chancellor to focus on to give businesses the boost they need to exit the lockdown. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has outlined three areas for chancellor Rishi Sunak to focus on in next week’s Budget to help businesses out of lockdown.

It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a step-by-step roadmap out of lockdown, which could see England return to “normal” by 21 June.

The CBI has called on Sunak to focus on jobs, confidence and investment to give firms the “boost they need to bring the UK back to growth.”

CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors across the UK, is urging the chancellor to hone in on “policies that will catalyse business investment” in key areas like jobs, skills and innovation.

It said that business is also looking to Sunak to incentivise green investment to set them on track to net zero.

The group warned that firms that are still in “emergency mode” are “sounding alarm bells” that any significant tax rises in the short-term will “stifle their ability to invest, hamper UK competitiveness and hold back our recovery.”

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said that “this Budget is like no other, with many businesses still on their knees” after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The prime minister’s roadmap for easing restrictions and the chancellor’s forthcoming Budget represents two parts of the same story — bookending the immediate COVID-19 crisis by relieving firms under pressure and setting the economy on a path to recovery,” he added.

The three key areas that the CBI has identified are:

  1. Protecting jobs, firms and livelihoods in the immediate term by extending furlough, providing further VAT deferrals and giving firms (including in vital supply chains) a further business rates holiday.

  2. Get businesses investing, by using incentives to spur investment in skills, jobs and innovation. This includes vouchers to get SMEs investing in digital technologies; unlocking investment in training by reforming the Apprenticeship Levy; and setting up the new National Infrastructure Bank to crowd-in investment.

  3. Provide the vision for a long-term plan for economic growth. From green investment incentives to laying the groundwork for a fundamental reform of the unfair and uncompetitive business rates system, businesses want a signal of intent about the future of the economy.

READ MORE: Britain readies ‘fast track’ fintech visa for highly-skilled workers

Newton-Smith continued: “But this can’t just be about the here and now. We need to match the urgent need to protect jobs and firms with giving everyone a glimpse of an ambitious vision for the future of the economy. That means giving firms the confidence they need to invest by committing to the kind of pro-business environment that would help them to compete with the world’s best.

“Consumption and government spending alone can’t set us on the path to recovery. We need a dynamic and competitive business community powering us forward. That means avoiding any moves in the short-term that would hold business back from doing what it does best: innovating, creating jobs and delivering greater prosperity for all.”

CBI’s calls follow a slew of plans the Treasury announced ahead of the chancellor’s second Budget on 3 March to help get the country back on track post-Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now we’ve left the EU and taken back control of our borders, we want to make sure our immigration system helps businesses attract the best talent from around the world,” Sunak said.

On Friday evening, it announced a £126m investment to bolster traineeships and create 40,000 new posts to help people back into the jobs market.

The Treasury also unveiled a mortgage scheme to help first-time buyers with low deposits buy a home. Under the plans, buyers will pay just 5% deposits to buy homes worth up to £600,000 and will offer lenders the guarantee to provide mortgages covering the remaining 95%.

Additionally, it has also revealed plans to create a task force to crack down on fraudsters exploiting the UK government COVID-19 support schemes. Sunak will unveil at the Budget on Wednesday a £100m investment to launch the task force.

WATCH: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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