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Federal cabinet ministers will focus on economy during retreat: LeBlanc

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VANCOUVER — Federal cabinet ministers are in Vancouver for a three-day retreat where the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs says their discussions will focus on the economy, including housing affordability and inflation.

Dominic LeBlanc says the Liberal Party is not currently focused or “concerned” with who will be chosen as the next Conservative leader.

Voting to choose the new federal Conservative leader closed Tuesday, with the announcement expected Saturday.

Inflation has been a key talking point for Pierre Poilievre, the Ottawa-area MP who’s been a front runner in the Conservative leadership contest.

He has consistently blamed Trudeau’s government for the rising cost of basic needs, from housing and home heating bills to groceries and back-to-school supplies.

LeBlanc’s remarks came during a media availability Tuesday, where Federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault said the government has proven it has the “backs of Canadians” during a time of high inflation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2022.

 

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Economy

Some fear for Outaouais economy in wake of Bill 96 – CBC.ca

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Some businesses and communities in the Outaouais say they’re willing to comply with controversial Bill 96 French-language amendments — but warn that doing so may come at a cost.

Bill 96 proposes to revoke any Quebec municipality’s bilingual status where fewer than 50 per cent of citizens have English as a mother tongue. 

Jurisdictions without this status must offer services only in French, with few exceptions.

The bill has some Quebec business leaders worried about the potential impacts on the province’s economy. Dozens have signed an open letter that was published online Friday, asking the government to put the law on hold. 

“It’s a good thing to protect French … I’m all for it,” said Nicolas Roy, a Gatineau, Que., businessman and the CEO of Epsi, a firm specializing in human resources management. 

While he unreservedly supports the principles and foundations of the law, Roy still signed the letter.

 “I think we should better consider the impact such a bill could have on small and medium enterprise,” he said.

A ‘very heavy’ burden

The bill’s strict language requirements make Quebec a less attractive place to work compared to other provinces, Roy said. It’s also a barrier to recruiting people from outside Canada, he added, as they’d need to successfully learn French within six months of immigrating.

As Quebec businesses already struggling to attract skilled labour stare down a potential recession, Roy said these kinds of obstacles may have devastating impacts.

“It’s a burden [that’s] very heavy,” Roy said.

In the western Quebec community of Mansfield-et-Pontefract, the bill could affect the many English-speaking tourists and cottagers that arrive each spring and summer, said Mayor Sandra Armstrong.

The small municipality about 120 kilometres northwest of Ottawa is “already a French-speaking community” and operates almost entirely in French, Armstrong said. So do its neighbours, Fort-Coulonge and Île-du-Grand-Calumet, she added.

Still, providing services to English-speaking tourists is crucial to the local economy, Armstrong said.

“For now, we will continue to serve them in French or English to help them out. Then we’ll see what the government is really asking each municipality about that,” Armstrong said.

“There’s no hiding the fact we have to respect that law.”

Lawyer Gabriel Poliquin says he expects several elements of Bill 96 to be challenged. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

Minister promises to support businesses

Quebec Immigration and Labour Minister Jean Boulet was in the Outaouais Friday, and when asked about the impact of Bill 96 on small and medium-sized local businesses, said they’d be supported while the law is applied.

The government would support the transition to French-only workplaces through Francisation Québec, Boulet said, which will deliver French-language learning services. 

Francisation Québec is set to take effect on June 1, 2023.

Still, Bill 96 may “go too far in a constitutional sense,” said Gabriel Poliquin, a lawyer with Ottawa law firm Olthuis Van Ert.

The bill is a significant modification of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, Poliquin said, and aspects of the charter have been previously challenged in court.

Poliquin said that he expects Bill 96 to be challenged as well, possibly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Constitution Act. 

“Even if certain provisions of the law survive those legal challenges, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are good ideas or practical ideas from a public policy standpoint,” said Poliquin.

Changes to laws related to Bill 96 laws will gradually come into effect between now and 2025.

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Canada's creator economy is finally getting support after years of neglect – Financial Post

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The creator economy is growing as more homegrown creators turn content into cash

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After years of neglect, Canada’s creator economy is finally getting some recognition — and some money to go with it.

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The creator economy, made up of individuals and businesses making content on social media platforms and the organizations that support them, is growing as more homegrown creators turn content, such as videos, into cash. Early stage investment funds have taken notice, and are starting to sink money into creators working with platforms that include Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, Meta Platforms Inc.’s Instagram and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok. Meanwhile, resources and organizations designed to foster influencers’ growth are also cropping up, priming the industry for a new era of growth in Canada.

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“Canadian influencer talent, for better or worse, has predominantly been hard to find. I don’t think there’s a lack of talent here. I think it’s the lack of opportunity,” said Matt Roberts, managing partner at ScaleUP Ventures Inc. which led a Series A financing round in 2018 for Toronto-based creator marketing company Hashtag Paid Inc., which stylizes its name as #paid.

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“Up until now, it’s been very ad hoc how all these (stakeholders) work together,” he said.

Creators are contributing no small amount of money to the Canadian economy. The exact figure is hard to pin down, but in 2021, YouTube Canada alone contributed $1.1 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, an Alphabet-commissioned report by Oxford Economics said, and the number of YouTube channels earning $100,000 or more annually rose 35 per cent year over year.

Around the world, there are more than 50 million people who consider themselves creators, according to SignalFire, a venture capital firm in San Francisco. Across all major platforms, there are more than two million professional, full-time creators, while more than 45 million call themselves part-time, amateur creators. Estimates of the size of the global creator economy hover at above US$100 billion.

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So far, the path to homegrown success hasn’t been easy for Canadian creators, especially for those producing content in crowded niches such as comedy. Canada’s creator ecosystem has historically been too small to support influencers’ brands, Roberts said. That has forced many fledgling influencers to pack up their gear and leave the country completely to build their careers. One popular destination is Los Angeles, California, home of Hollywood and a key market for social media stars, where you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a talent agency.

That’s exactly where Inanna Sarkis went when she embarked on her acting and social media career. In 2016, the Woodbridge, Ont., native completed her criminal justice degree, left her condo in downtown Toronto and hopped on a plane to L.A.

It was there she began her meteoric rise on social media, gaining thousands of followers by the day, which helped boost her chances of landing an acting role at auditions. Before video app Vine, owned by Twitter Inc., shut down in 2017, she amassed more than 100,000 followers. Sarkis currently has close to four million subscribers on YouTube and 15.2 million followers on Instagram.

She’s now been in movies and a handful of television series, most notably a horror flick released last year called Seance.

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“L.A. was so advanced and everyone was literally already creating so much content at the time,” Sarkis said of the creator climate in 2016 via video call from her Los Angeles home. “There was already built-in infrastructure because of the acting world.”

It was through acting classes that she met some of the rising stars who went on to dominate Vine, the popular social media app of the time, known for its six-second video format. She first met Melvin Gregg — now an actor in the show Nine Perfect Strangers on Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime streaming service — who then introduced her to the likes of King Bach, DeStorm Power and Anwar Jibawi, all stars in their own right. Together they built a support system to foster each other’s creativity.

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“Everyone who wanted to act or wanted to create, they all moved into one building, which was (known as) Vine Street in Los Angeles. You would go outside and there’d be Viners in every corridor creating content,” she said.

It was a far cry from what she experienced in Canada.

“When I came back to Toronto … (Vine) was just this thing that existed and (people) would watch it but never really create content for it,” Sarkis said.

The Weeknd performing in at BC Place in Vancouver on Aug. 23, 2022.
The Weeknd performing in at BC Place in Vancouver on Aug. 23, 2022. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press files

Another industry-watcher saw opportunity in that dearth of support for Canadian content creators. Ahmed Ismail founded Hxouse, an incubator for creators, in 2018 with his friends Abel Tesfaye, the popular R&B singer known as The Weeknd, and La Mar Taylor, The Weeknd’s creative director.

They envisioned Hxouse as a space in Toronto’s east end for aspiring creative entrepreneurs to learn through mentorship programs, networking opportunities and educational sessions about how to innovate and capitalize on opportunities in the creator economy.

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Through Hxouse, creators gain access to the knowledge the three have gained from their connections to the entertainment industry. “You (get) to learn from the best of our friendships and our relationships,” Ismail said.

In September, Ismail launched CNCPT in partnership with YouTube Canada, an iteration of Hxouse’s initial offerings meant to target budding Canadian creators. YouTube Canada is funding a separate space in Hxouse’s offices for creators, new and seasoned, to shoot content and use tools such as cameras and editing software.

The two companies are still working out the kinks of what CNCPT will become, but YouTube said it will provide $100,000 grants for creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their online businesses. It also plans to fund and help create the curriculum for two annual accelerator programs beginning early next year that will be free for participants.

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Ismail said the collaboration with YouTube is a step in the right direction for the local creator economy.

“This is how we help build Canadian talent pipelines so more creatives and entrepreneurs realize their potential and find success and also stay in Canada while they’re still global phenomenons,” he said.

Ismail and his team are betting the creator economy will take off in Canada. The XO Crew, the name of The Weeknd’s label and associates, joined ScaleUP’s Roberts in the $18.9-million Series A round that #paid raised.

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Other businesses that help manage marketing deals between brands and creators are also popping up. Adrian Capobianco, founder of BILI Inc., launched the Because I Love It platform earlier this year aimed at connecting creators and influencers with businesses seeking to make advertising deals. In June, the company raised $600,000 in its first seed round and is currently trying to raise money for a second financing round.

“The creator economy is not just an economy in the dollars and cents aspect. It really is a very robust ecosystem for creators, for influencers and for brands,” Capobianco said. “Interest from brands is growing rapidly and interest from creators continues to scale.”

• Email: bbharti@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Economy

Powell says economy may be entering 'new normal' after pandemic – BNN Bloomberg

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(Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US economy may be entering a “new normal” following disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We continue to deal with an exceptionally unusual set of disruptions,” Powell told business and community leaders Friday at a Fed Listens event in Washington. “As policy makers we’re committed to using our tools to help see the economy through what has been a uniquely challenging period.”

In his brief welcoming marks, Powell didn’t discuss the outlook for interest rates or offer more specifics on the economic outlook. All seven of the Board’s governors were present for the panel with Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook making public comments in their roles as Fed officials for the first time.

Fed officials heard a consistent message that shortages and scarcity were still afflicting businesses along with high labor turnover. Speaking about the small- and medium-sized companies they consult with, Cara Walton, for Harbour Results in Southfield, Michigan, said her clients “can’t find people,” and when they do find them, turnover is high.

US central bankers raised their benchmark lending rate by three quarters of a percentage points this week for a third straight time — the most aggressive pace of tightening seen since the Fed battled inflation back in the 1980s.

Powell and his colleagues are moving rapidly to reduce the highest inflation in nearly 40 years after being slow to spot the threat of broadening price pressures. Critics have slammed them for that error, although inflation has also been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which boosted food and energy prices around the world.

Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard, speaking later during the event when the panel considered how families are adapting to the post-pandemic economy, noted that price pressures were hitting the most vulnerable particularly hard.

“We have seen high wage growth among the lowest income workers but looking overall, wages haven’t kept up with inflation and inflation is very high,” she said. “If we look at who bares the burden, everybody is affected by high inflation but of course it puts special burdens on lower income families as well as on people with fixed incomes.”

US consumer prices rose 8.3% in the 12 months through August and officials have vowed to cool them even if that means causing harm to the US economy and its workers. 

Officials couch this as an effort to slow excess demand and put the labor market back into “balance” — a euphemism that glosses over the fact many people could lose their jobs in the process. The labor market has so far remained strong, with unemployment at 3.7%, but policy makers this week forecast that would rise to around 4.4% next year as they continue to raise interest rates.

Fed Listens events have been held around the US since 2019 as the central bank sought public input on a review of its approach to monetary policy. That overhaul was completed in 2021 but the Fed has kept them going to maintain public engagement at a time when its actions remain front-page news.

In closing, Powell thanked the panelists for sharing their experiences of the post-pandemic economy.

“We get to spend a lot of time with data, here at the Fed. But I personally would say I need to hear narratives, I need to hear stories, about what’s really going on out there for it all to make sense,” he said. “We all learned a lot from you today.”

(Adds comment from closing remark from Powell in final paragraph.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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