The Trudeau Liberal government delivered a federal budget Monday aimed at finishing the fight against COVID-19 and investing in a broken economy while providing much-anticipated good news for Nova Scotians young and old.
Introducing the first federal budget in more than two years, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic has preyed on Canadian seniors “mercilessly,” ending thousands of lives and forcing all seniors into fearful isolation.
“We have failed so many of those living in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “To them, and to their families, let me say this: I am so sorry. We owe you so much better than this.”
The “so much better” is expected to come from a budget announcement of a $3-billion investment over five years, starting in 2022-23, to ensure that provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.
Freeland said the pandemic has shed a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country, a light that was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Premier Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failures at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax that resulted in 53 virus deaths.
Michelle Lowe, the executive director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella group that represents 85 per cent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association has had recent discussion about the push for national standards.
Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and outcomes that are required.”
Lowe said the concern is that when the federal government focuses on developing national standards, “it then starts to take the focus off the really critical things that require investment.”
“The immediate issue is (staff) recruitment,” Lowe said. “Standards are important but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia abide by are exceptional.”
Lowe said Nova Scotia could set standards that would meet and likely exceed national benchmarks and said a variety of government bodies, like Accreditation Canada, audit long-term-care facilities to make sure practices meet national and international standards.
Lowe said federal government funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for those governing bodies to audit facilities.
“The number one issue that’s facing long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long, the emphasis has been on recruiting acute-care staff, recruiting doctors, recruiting nurses, to come into the primary care setting and what’s fallen off the radar and what’s fallen off efforts by government is this whole area of recruiting for continuing care, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.”
Lowe said funding for new or renovated facilities is important “but if we don’t have the staff to support that, none of it will matter.”
“If we don’t have some significant investment in recruitment, particularly from what we are seeing here in Nova Scotia … I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen, you are going to see facilities closing beds for summer vacations because they just don’t have enough staff to provide the care.”
Lowe said providing private rooms for every senior in long-term care is not realistic, based on projections that suggest 199,000 new beds would be needed over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system.
The federal budget also provides $90 million over three years to look at ways to support an age well at home initiative to support seniors to stay at home, in their home communities as long as possible.. The funding would provide practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparations, home maintenance, daily errands, yard work, and transportation.
“That’s fantastic,” Lowe said of caring for more seniors at home.
The federal government has also promised to increase old age security for Canadians 75 and older.
It means providing support where COVID has struck hardest – to women, to young people, to low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in hospitality and tourism.
At the other end of the spectrum from seniors measures is a federal commitment to invest $30 billion over the next five years in a Canada-wide child-care and early learning program. By the end of next year, the federal government aims to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent that would bring fees for 4egulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years.
Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year will be invested annually in child care, including Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2025-26.
“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,
“It’s been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program,” Stratford said. “It is finally nice to see words come to fruition with a meaningful investment.”
Stratford said the program will work the same as health care, with the federal government providing funding with federal standards and the provinces figuring out the best way to deliver it.
Stratford said child care is particularly important at this current moment as “we look at the statistics on women in the labour force and the impact that the pandemic has had.”
Stratford said child care is one of the most effective economic policies that we can put into play with every dollar spent returning two dollars to the economy, a policy that creates equity among genders in the workplace.
“As women are able to feel safe in having their kids cared for, they re-enter the labour market, go back to school and find the education and tools that we all need.”
The federal budget comes with a 354.2-billion deficit for the fiscal year just completed and a projected $154.7-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal cycle.
The federal budget plan is to create one million new jobs by year’s end, extended funding through the fall to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the pandemic crisis toward recovery and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, almost half of which will be opportunities for youth.
“These are the programs that are needed,” Stratford said. “That, with pharmacare, increased health-care spending, all of those programs and services work to lower the cost of living for Canadians, so that they can live a more quality life, which is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen in past governments where austerity is the policy decision-maker.”
Stocks gain as earnings provide some optimism; 10-yr yield climbs
Stock indexes around the world jumped on Tuesday as U.S. technology shares extended recent gains and earnings reports were upbeat, while the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose to its highest in more than four months.
The U.S. dollar was lower on the day as other currencies, including sterling, were supported by investor expectations that interest rates could be increased sooner than some had forecast.
On Wall Street, the technology sector boosted the S&P 500 the most, while recent stronger-than-expected results have bumped up the forecast for S&P 500 earnings for the third quarter.
Investors remain worried, however, about the impact that higher costs, supply disruptions and labor shortages are having on companies.
“The key for the market to going up from here will not be higher multiples, it will have to be higher earnings. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what those profit margins do going forward and what the trajectory of GDP looks like,” said Eric Marshall, portfolio manager at Hodges Funds.
Among U.S. companies reporting results on Tuesday, insurer Travelers Cos Inc beat estimates for third-quarter profit and its shares rose. Johnson & Johnson raised its 2021 adjusted profit forecast and its shares jumped 2.3%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 198.7 points, or 0.56%, to 35,457.31, the S&P 500 gained 33.17 points, or 0.74%, to 4,519.63 and the Nasdaq Composite added 107.28 points, or 0.71%, to 15,129.09.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.33% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe < .MIWD00000PUS> gained 0.73%.
The MSCI index reached its highest in about a month.
MSCI World Index https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zgvomrjmavd/world%20stocks%20oct%2019.PNG
The dollar index against a basket of other currencies was last down 0.22% on the day at 93.73, after earlier dropping to 93.50, the lowest since Sept. 28.
The euro gained 0.25% to $1.1640. Currencies, including sterling and the New Zealand dollar, are benefiting from rising interest rate increase expectations.
Bitcoin last rose 3.49% to $64,201.08.
In the U.S. Treasury market, the yield curve widened, reversing the recent trend.
In afternoon U.S. trading, U.S. 10-year yields were last up nearly six basis points at 1.6407%. The yield hit a 4-1/2-month peak of 1.6440%.
The U.S. 5-year yield, which has been on a tear the last two weeks, was last down at 1.1586%.
Oil prices climbed and were near multi-year highs as an energy supply crunch continued across the globe. Brent crude rose 75 cents to settle at $85.08 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose 52 cents to settle at $82.96.
In other commodities, U.S. gold futures gained 0.15% to $1,769.70 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes in London, Shreyashi Sanyal and Devik Jain in Bengaluru, Karen Brettell, Stephanie Kelly and Sinead Carew in New York, and Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Jason Neely, John Stonestreet, Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman)
In highly uneven recovery, global investment flows rebound – UN News
It shows the increase in the first two quarters in FDI, recovered more than 70 per cent of the losses stemming from the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.
For the UNCTAD‘s director of investment and enterprise, James Zhan, the good news “masks the growing divergence in FDI flows between developed and developing economies, as well as the lag in a broad-based recovery of the greenfield investment in productive capacity.”
Mr. Zhan also warns that “uncertainties remain abundant”.
The duration of the health crisis, the pace of vaccinations, especially in developing countries, and the speed of implementation of infrastructure stimulus, remain important factors of uncertainty.
Other important risk factors are labour and supply chain bottlenecks, rising energy prices and inflationary pressures.
Despite these challenges, the global outlook for the full year has improved from earlier projections.
The growth in the next few months should be more muted than the in the first half of the year, but it should still take FDI flows to beyond pre-pandemic levels.
Between January and June, developed economies saw the biggest rise, with FDI reaching an estimated $424 billion, more than three times the exceptionally low level in 2020.
In Europe, several large economies saw sizeable increases, on average remaining only 5 per cent below pre-pandemic quarterly levels.
Inflows in the United States were up by 90 per cent, driven by a surge in cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
FDI flows in developing economies also increased significantly, totalling $427 billion in the first half of the year.
There was a growth acceleration in east and southeast Asia (25 per cent), a recovery to near pre-pandemic levels in Central and South America, and upticks in several other regional economies across Africa and West and Central Asia.
Of the total recovery increase, 75 per cent was recorded in developed economies.
High-income countries more than doubled quarterly FDI inflows from rock bottom 2020 levels, middle-income economies saw a 30 per cent increase, and low-income economies a further nine per cent decline.
Mixed picture for investors
Growing investor confidence is most apparent in infrastructure, boosted by favourable long-term financing conditions, recovery stimulus packages and overseas investment programmes.
International project finance deals were up 32 per cent in number, and 74 per cent in value terms. Sizeable increases happened in most high-income regions and in Asia and South America.
In contrast, UNCTAD says investor confidence in industry and value chains remains shaky. Greenfield investment project announcements continued their downward path, decreasing 13 per cent in number and 11 per cent in value until the end of September.
The combined value of announced greenfield investments and project finance deals rose by 60 per cent, but mostly because of a small number of very large deals in the power sector.
International project finance in renewable energy and utilities continues to be the strongest growth sector.
The investment in projects relevant to the SDGs in least developed countries continued to decline precipitously. New greenfield project announcements fell by 51 per cent, and infrastructure project finance deals by 47 per cent. Both had already fallen 28 per cent last year.
Simon Kronenfeld: Best Performing Stocks on TSX in 2021
Simon Kronenfeld is well-experienced in analyzing stocks across North American markets. Recently he has turned his attention to the Toronto Stock Exchange in particular. Although less liquid than US exchanges, there remains strong potential for reliable returns if you know your way around the TSX. Spotting the stocks with the potential to survive and thrive in changing times will be a key skill in 2021.
Simon Kronenfeld dwells upon three companies that are performing well on the TSX in 2021.
- Goeasy Ltd: Goeasy’s success is a reflection of the wider financial sector in general. The company primarily offers loans for home appliances and furniture through their easyHome and easyFinancial divisions.
The company has issued around $5 billion in loans to date, and they continue to help Canadian borrower’s build their credit scores, with 60% of customers increasing their credit scores within a year. Despite the pandemic, the company’s stocks have continued to deliver great returns over the last year. In fact, its share prices have risen 210% since August 2020. Considering the wider economy, Goeasy is looking like a sound investment for the future.
- TFI International: TFI International had some negative news at the start of the year as its stock prices slipped, but they have bounced back to triple the value of that period. These temporary dips are not a major obstacle for smart companies with the right plan.
TFI International is a logistics company with over 500 access points across North America. This company covers all the major sectors of the industry, including Package and Courier, Truckload, and Logistics, and provides more than 31,000 jobs.
The company recently acquired UPS’s Less-Than-Truckload freight service, which has led to a major transformation in their revenue distribution. Now the company predicts 75% of their revenue to come from the US market, where there is more growth potential. Simon expects to see long-term growth and value from this one, despite the stock price boost it has already experienced.
The company has made major improvements to its efficiency following the acquisition, putting it on the right path to make further inroads into the US market.
- Shopify: Shopify is the most widely-used e-commerce marketing platform, used by small businesses and major operations alike to create online stores and sell products, thanks to its streamlined design process and in-built payment platform.
Business was already booming for Shopify before the pandemic, and the shift towards online shopping in the last year has only served to compound its successes. As a result, it has experience growth of 32% in the last year, and Simon expects this trend to continue.
Simon Kronenfeld is not only a businessman, he is also a business expert in today’s world. He founded the company Electronic Liquidators Inc. in 1999 and paving the way for many opportunities as he sold it and made his way into real estate. Now after 2 decades, Simon Kronenfeld is a real estate mastermind who plans to build luxury housing by the beach. If we think about what the driving force behind Simon Kronenfeld’s success has been, we can say that it is his self-motivation to do better.
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