The federal parties took the first full day of campaigning to lay planks in their plans to revive the country’s economy after months of pain from the COVID-19 pandemic, and options for covering the costs.
Unprecedented aid has flowed from federal coffers since the onset of the pandemic last year, which parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux estimates will hit $352 billion in direct support by 2026 when all measures come to a close under existing plans.
Business groups said Monday their members were looking for a detailed road map for recovery, including targeted aid for businesses still smarting from public health restrictions through to next year and debt relief for small companies that piled on debt to survive the downturn.
The Liberals promised to extend a hiring credit first unveiled in their recent budget through to the end of March 2022. They also pledged to provide extra help to the hardest hit sectors like tourism and live theatre that are facing a steeper climb back to pre-pandemic levels.
“For hard-hit businesses who get the workers they need, to workers who get the jobs they need to support their families, this is a win-win,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said in Longueuil, Que.
Trudeau said the final bill would be dictated by how quickly the economy recovers and aid would no longer be needed.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole took the first full day of campaigning to lay out his party’s full platform, which similarly aims to create jobs by spending in the immediately future, spur growth at levels above the budget officer’s outlook, and balance the budget by 2031.
“We’re making sure we put a recovery plan forward and that we’re never again unprepared for a crisis or running massive deficits in good times like Mr. Trudeau,” O’Toole said.
His plan also unwinds the Trudeau government’s child-care system and replace it with a tax credit that O’Toole said would help low-income families cover up to 75 per cent of daycare costs. The pledge brought a sharp retort from Trudeau, argued the Conservative plan would hurt women.
Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised to pry money out of the pockets of CEOs who saw their compensation rise even as their companies received federal business aid, adding to other New Democrat promises to tax the ultrarich to pad government revenues coming out of the pandemic.
“There are lots of ways for us to make sure that burden doesn’t fall on you or your families, doesn’t fall on workers, doesn’t fall on small businesses,” Singh said in the downtown Toronto riding once held by former NDP leader Jack Layton.
“We can ask the wealthiest corporations, the super-rich to start contributing fairly to pay their fair share and we can invest that back into people.”
But the day was also taken over by other issues, including the government’s efforts to help Afghans who aided Canadian troops flee Afghanistan as the Taliban retook power, and mandatory vaccination rules for workers and travellers — signalling what may face the leaders between now and voting day on Sept. 20.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet spent the morning criticizing the inability of the Trudeau government to produce vaccines in Canada, saying that it was necessary for Quebec to have provincial production capacity rather than relying on foreign companies.
He also talked about the environment, telling reporters in English that it was necessary for Alberta to ween itself off of oil and gas with federal help.
“Solutions exist and we are willing to help and to accept the fact that more money would go there,” Blanchet said, “because we are all going to pay, the whole planet, if nothing is done.”
Similarly, Green Leader Annamie Paul called for an end to the construction of new pipelines, fracking, and oil and gas exploration so Canada could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reshape the economy.
“We are going to be talking a lot about our green future and the climate in this election,” Paul said at an event in Toronto. “We are going to be talking concretely about how we get from here to there and how we can ensure a safe, sustainable future that ensures that Canada … becomes a competitive, green, global economy.”
—Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Restaurant and hotel owners struggling to fill jobs. Supply-chain delays forcing up prices for small businesses. Unemployed Americans unable to find work even with job openings at a record high.
Those and other disruptions to the U.S. economy — consequences of the viral pandemic that erupted 18 months ago — appear likely to endure, a group of business owners and nonprofit executives told Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday.
The business challenges, described during a “Fed Listens” virtual roundtable, underscore the ways that the COVID-19 outbreak and its delta variant are continuing to transform the U.S. economy. Some participants in the event said their business plans were still evolving. Others complained of sluggish sales and fluctuating fortunes after the pandemic eased this summer and then intensified in the past two months.
“We are really living in unique times,” Powell said at the end of the discussion. “I’ve never seen these kinds of supply-chain issues, never seen an economy that combines drastic labor shortages with lots of unemployed people. … So, it’s a very fast changing economy. It’s going to be quite different from the one (before).”
The Fed chair asked Cheetie Kumar, a restaurant owner in Raleigh, North Carolina, why she has had such trouble finding workers. Powell’s question goes to the heart of the Fed’s mandate of maximizing employment, because many people who were working before the pandemic lost jobs and are no longer looking for one. When — or whether — these people resume their job hunts will help determine when the Fed can conclude that the economy has achieved maximum employment.
Kumar told Powell that many of her former employees have decided to permanently leave the restaurant industry.
“I think a lot of people wanted to make life changes, and we lost a lot of people to different industries,” she said. “I think half of our folks decided to go back to school.”
Kumar said her restaurant now pays a minimum of $18 an hour, and she added that higher wages are likely a long-term change for the restaurant industry.
“We cannot get by and pay people $13 an hour and expect them to stay with us for years and years,” Kumar said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Loren Nalewanski, a vice president at Marriott Select Brands, said his company is losing housekeepers to other jobs that have recently raised pay. Even the recent cutoff of a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement, he said, hasn’t led to an increase in job applicants.
“People have left the industry and unfortunately they’re finding other things to do,” Nalewanski said. “Other industries that didn’t pay as much perhaps … are (now) paying a lot more.”
Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
Dialogue NB Seeks To Rebuild An Inclusive Economy Through Conversation – Huddle – Huddle Today
MONCTON – Dialogue NB CEO Nadine Duguay-Lemay says the business community has an integral place in a conversation about building a more equal and just New Brunswick.
That very conversation will take place on September 27 in Moncton with Dialogue Day 2021.
“When we talk about anti-racism, notions of equality, diversity, acceptance and inclusion and all those notions we celebrate, it’s not something we can do on our own,” said Duguay-Lemay.
“The business community actively needs to participate, if anything, because those topics concern them. That’s why you see so many business support the event.”
The volunteer-led non-profit organization plans to host an inclusive conversation on Monday at Moncton’s Crowne Plaza and virtually, online.
Dedicated to building social cohesion in New Brunswick, the sold-out event will feature discussions about racial justice in the workplace, rethinking the economy as it recovers from the pandemic and how to be a better ally to Indigenous people.
The event, which has sold out of in-person seats, will feature Jeremy Dutcher, a Wolastoq singer, songwriter, composer, musicologist and activist from Tobique First Nation, as its keynote speaker.
The mandate of the discussions is to ensure everyone feels heard, valued and that they belong, making diversity an asset – something Duguay-Lemay considers imperative to a functional economy.
“What I’ve found is that people don’t like to go into uncomfortable discussions. Some people want to embrace social cohesion but don’t know where to start, or are afraid of saying the wrong thing. This is our expertise – we’re good at the art of dialogue and multiple viewpoints at one table,” she said.
“We need a lot of different voices and perspectives at the table to rethink the system for the wellbeing of all. These discussions shouldn’t be happening in isolation.”
Duguay-Lemay said New Brunswick faces many economic challenges, noting a diverse workforce will help recover from those challenges.
She stressed that the business community needs to work toward a goal of truth and reconciliation, and in a call with Huddle, rebutted the metaphor of everyone being on the same boat during the pandemic.
“I’d argue we’re all facing the same storm, but not in the same boat. Some people are in yachts and some are in little boats about to capsize,” she said.
Other voices are emerging – female and Indigenous, for example – looking to address poverty and wage inequality and unfairness, employment access, systemic racism and environmental degradation, noted Duguay-Lemay, adding that the province’s 4,418 non-profits need more recognition as an economic partner.
“Inclusion is embedded in our DNA as Canadians. We’re already a country and province that abides by those laws, so it’s important to look at inclusion,” she said.
The conversations will also focus on racial justice in the workplace, how the pandemic hurt Indigenous and black Canadian employment, versus non-minorities, access to employment – and the social barriers that exist for racialized workers.
“I invite all organizations, employers, public and non-profits to look at their practices in place and ask if they walk the talk for truth and reconciliation. We’re all treaty people – how do we uphold this?” said Duguay-Lemay.
“We want to at least demonstrate to Indigenous people in New Brunswick that we hear their plight and are serious about truth and reconciliation.”
Greater social cohesion is the best step forward, Duguay-Lemay noted, adding that real dialogue can build an economy that works for everyone.
She said matters of racial justice in the workplace – and specific matters, such as owners objecting to the declaration of September 30 as a statutory holiday, contending that they can’t afford it – will be among the economic issues for which solutions will be sought.
The conversation will also focus on how the province’s recovery from the pandemic has exposed inequalities in the economy.
Duguay-Lemay stressed the need to learn from the way the pandemic exposed inequalities, and rethink a system that works for everyone.
“We need to think differently and it really shouldn’t be based on the interests of the privileged,” said Duguay-Lemay.
“As employers are looking to attract and retain talent, we hear about skill shortages all the time. This becomes a matter of attracting talent, whether from newcomers or tapping into Indigenous communities, how can we make our workplaces more equitable and inclusive?
The event will feature an “eclectic” round table of specialists, artists, activists and experts from numerous sectors, and identities in New Brunswick, with opportunities for networking, inspiration for change with concrete examples and skills to help become a social leader.
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