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Coronavirus: Ontario underground economy a COVID-19 pandemic problem – Globalnews.ca

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An underground economy that’s expanded during Ontario’s stay-at-home order hurts public finances and could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19, public health officials and experts said.

Bylaw officers in one of the province’s COVID-19 hot spots have issued dozens of fines for businesses operating against public health orders in York Region.

“We’re seeing an increase in underground activity,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, the region’s medical officer of health. “We do get anecdotal reports of people using their basements to carry out their particular trades, and we would much rather that this be done openly, with all the appropriate precautions put in place.”

Read more:
Ontario to announce decision on COVID-19 pandemic restrictions for hot spots

The health region knows of at least one instance where a virus variant was spread after a nail technician visited customers’ homes to perform services, Kurji said, though the health unit lacks precise data on how widespread the issue is, given the businesses’ underground nature.

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A browse through Facebook Marketplace, the tech giant’s online classifieds service, shows numerous listings for haircuts, manicures and eyelash extensions — all services that are verboten in regions under a stay-at-home order or in the grey-lockdown phase of the province’s reopening plan.

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“In your home or mine!” one listing proclaims.

The Canadian Press reached out to a number of those offering such services but none agreed to be interviewed.

The top doctor in Niagara Region, which is currently in the grey-lockdown phase of reopening, said he is also aware of some businesses operating under the table in an effort to skirt public health rules.

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Founder of Etobicoke’s SanRemo Bakery who died of COVID-19 remembered as humble, selfless

“Such operations are very much a risk of transmission given their rejection of provincial and local measures to protect our populations and economy from COVID-19,” Dr. Mustafa Hirji said in an emailed statement.

Catherine Connelly, a professor of organizational behaviour at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, said the underground economy has long been an issue.

Statistics Canada valued the nation’s underground economy at $61.2 billion in 2018, or roughly 2.7 per cent of the GDP.

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Connelly said that’s likely grown due to the pandemic, which has also made the consequences of bending the rules far more serious.

“People don’t think of the broader consequences of something simple like a haircut or home renovations,” she said.

It poses challenges for contact tracers, who may have trouble getting the truth out of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 after frequenting illicit barbershops, Connelly said.

There are economic implications too, she noted.

“We desperately need the tax revenue. As a society, this is how we function that we get to have nice things like hospitals, and schools and stuff like that, but it’s never top of mind,” she said.

Read more:
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Connelly said she’s hopeful that the province’s reopening will drive some people back to the up-and-up.

“With the relaxing of some of the rules, I think some of the underground economy has evaporated,” she said. “But I think some people also got used to it during the lockdown periods and this might just carry on indefinitely.”

The head of a small-business industry group said he doesn’t believe the issue is widespread, but he understands why some business owners may have felt compelled to go on operating contrary to public health rules.

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“Some of the rules are so nonsensical that I can understand why some business owners may be choosing to take the law into their own hands,” said Dan Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

“But that would be a pretty big risk to the future of their business to do that.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Women Will Come To The Fore In The Feeling Economy – Forbes

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A recent study from Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, towed a familiar path.  It revealed that adding women to software development teams not only boosted team performance but also reduced workplace delinquency.

“Companies should recruit more women to their development teams not only for obvious ethical reasons but because this will improve performance. Indeed, women software engineers significantly differ from men in terms of personality traits, which are related to higher job performance, ethics, and creativity. Men, despite having lower scores on emotionality, exhibit higher scores on the psychopathy trait, which may lead to a reduced level of team performance,” the researchers argue.

The thing is, should we training girls to enter “male” occupations or should we instead be simply themselves? It’s a notion that Roland Rust and Ming-Hul Huang believe will be at the heart of what they refer to as the “feeling economy” in their eponymous book.

The feeling economy

The feeling economy marks the transition from both the physical economy, where our economies were driven largely by brute force, into the thinking economy, where brains and logic were the determining factors, and into the feeling economy that will come to be dominated more by emotional intelligence, empathy, and creativity.

It’s a transition that is largely driven by improvements in technologies, such as AI and robotics, which mean that both physical and thinking economy work can be done more effectively by machines than by humans. It also means that it’s an economy that they believe will come to be dominated by women, who tend to be stronger in the kind of traits that will come to the fore.

“In the feeling economy, we expect that females will outnumber males for higher pay feeling jobs, such as healthcare and education,” they say. “In fact, those service industries are growing much faster than manufacturing, which is stagnant or declining.”

Skills for the future of work

It’s also noticeable that in Google’s famous Project Oxygen a few years ago, they found that of the eight skills associated with Google employees’ jobs, STEM skills were bottom of the pile in terms of importance. Far more important was the kind of soft skills that humans, and especially women, excel in.

And yet, as Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic famously pointed out several years ago, we still tend to recruit and promote men who are often wholly lacking in these skills. Hence, we tend to get men who are “self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders”.

Which is wholly detrimental to our organizations, and even to society more broadly. During the pandemic, the compassionate leadership of the likes of New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden and Germany’s Angela Merkel were lauded after data from the World Economic Forum showed that countries with female leaders fared better. 

Similarly, research from the University of Buffalo says that female leaders tend to fit the servant leadership mold that is so important in our current time better than their male peers.

Supporting innovation

This kind of servant leadership also plays a crucial role in supporting the kind of innovations that will be so important in the years ahead. The importance of the “pivot” has been a fundamental part of the entrepreneurial playbook for much of the near-decade it’s been since Eric Ries first published his groundbreaking The Lean Startup but the ability to adapt has been especially crucial during a pandemic in which so much of what we thought we knew has been tipped upside down.

While research suggests that we tend to think of men as more creative than women, the reality is quite the opposite. The dichotomy exists in large part because we falsely assume that innovation is simply having a “eureka” moment. A second study examined the various areas in which managers support innovation, including encouraging employees to pursue a broad range of knowledge, capturing any ideas they have, managing diverse teams, stretching employees, and providing feedback. Interestingly, across all eight of the domains, women outperform men.

The importance of psychological safety has been well documented due to the groundbreaking work of Harvard’s Amy Edmondson, but research from Cambridge’s Judge Business School shows that this is especially important during a crisis. Perhaps most importantly, the strong presence of women helped to provide the kind of psychological safety that is so important.

Holding women back

Despite the evident benefits women bring to teams and organizations, there continue to be numerous psychological biases that prevent them from contributing to their fullest.

For instance, research from Wharton’s Adam Grant revealed that it’s actually incredibly difficult for women to speak up with challenging ideas, whether involving innovations or otherwise. He reveals that when men do this, they tend to get praised in subsequent performance reviews, but for women, the reverse is true. 

A subsequent Yale study shows that this effect is not diminished when women gain leadership roles either. Indeed, the leadership capabilities of powerful women were diminished the more outspoken they were.

If, as Rust and Huang argue, we’re entering the age of the Feeling Economy, then the skills women so often bring to our organizations will be more important than ever before. It’s vital, therefore, that we find ways to remove those barriers and those biases that so often hold women back.

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Biodiversity and the circular economy | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

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Making its way to the top of global agendas and the bottom of balance sheets, biodiversity recently has risen through the ranks of planetary priorities. As a result, I’ve noticed a growing number of organizations calling to connect the dots between the circular economy and biodiversity, so I thought it worthwhile to consider their relationship — one that I instinctively felt to be a bit of a stretch. 

Although fundamentally aligned in their overlapping aims to address resource extraction, water scarcity, energy generation, toxicity and climate change, in practice circular economy strategies and biodiversity preservation seem to be one step removed. 

For example, repairing or reselling a pair of jeans does not directly preserve biodiversity. But done at scale, product life extension and keeping materials in use for as long as possible does reduce the need to extract the same quantity of natural resources, and therefore reduces the strain on our ecosystems. The same can be said for climate change mitigation, given that climate change contributes to 11 to 16 percent of biodiversity loss, and circular economy strategies can reduce carbon emissions

A central aim of the circular economy is to curb the extraction of finite resources and to regenerate living systems — two strategies that support the preservation of biological diversity, but only if they are done right. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world.

As companies champion the $7.7 trillion potential of the bioeconomy by 2030, a gradual move away from nonrenewable (and often petroleum-based) inputs has made manufacturers and materials scientists alike turn to bio-based materials as ideal inputs to more circular systems.

One example is the nuances of bioplastics, which are often produced through monoculture farming in deforested areas and use synthetic fertilizer. This actively decreases biodiversity and contributes to the 90 percent of biodiversity loss created by the way that we extract and process materials, fuels and food. 

I think the Dutch consultancy Circle Economy posed the question best: “You need biodiversity for a circular economy, but do you need a circular economy for biodiversity?” 

Personally, I don’t care. Connecting the dots between biodiversity and circularity isn’t necessarily additive, although it certainly can’t hurt.

Whether a company’s primary lens is sustainability, regeneration, net-zero, biodiversity, the circular economy or something else, what matters most is an aligned orientation of these solution sets to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. Neither the circular economy nor biodiversity preservation are ends unto themselves. These are means to move us towards a clean and resilient economy, equitable and prosperous communities and a healthy planet. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world. 

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Economy

Biodiversity and the circular economy | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

Published

 on


Making its way to the top of global agendas and the bottom of balance sheets, biodiversity recently has risen through the ranks of planetary priorities. As a result, I’ve noticed a growing number of organizations calling to connect the dots between the circular economy and biodiversity, so I thought it worthwhile to consider their relationship — one that I instinctively felt to be a bit of a stretch. 

Although fundamentally aligned in their overlapping aims to address resource extraction, water scarcity, energy generation, toxicity and climate change, in practice circular economy strategies and biodiversity preservation seem to be one step removed. 

For example, repairing or reselling a pair of jeans does not directly preserve biodiversity. But done at scale, product life extension and keeping materials in use for as long as possible does reduce the need to extract the same quantity of natural resources, and therefore reduces the strain on our ecosystems. The same can be said for climate change mitigation, given that climate change contributes to 11 to 16 percent of biodiversity loss, and circular economy strategies can reduce carbon emissions

A central aim of the circular economy is to curb the extraction of finite resources and to regenerate living systems — two strategies that support the preservation of biological diversity, but only if they are done right. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world.

As companies champion the $7.7 trillion potential of the bioeconomy by 2030, a gradual move away from nonrenewable (and often petroleum-based) inputs has made manufacturers and materials scientists alike turn to bio-based materials as ideal inputs to more circular systems.

One example is the nuances of bioplastics, which are often produced through monoculture farming in deforested areas and use synthetic fertilizer. This actively decreases biodiversity and contributes to the 90 percent of biodiversity loss created by the way that we extract and process materials, fuels and food. 

I think the Dutch consultancy Circle Economy posed the question best: “You need biodiversity for a circular economy, but do you need a circular economy for biodiversity?” 

Personally, I don’t care. Connecting the dots between biodiversity and circularity isn’t necessarily additive, although it certainly can’t hurt.

Whether a company’s primary lens is sustainability, regeneration, net-zero, biodiversity, the circular economy or something else, what matters most is an aligned orientation of these solution sets to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. Neither the circular economy nor biodiversity preservation are ends unto themselves. These are means to move us towards a clean and resilient economy, equitable and prosperous communities and a healthy planet. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world. 

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