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Greater Victoria employs more people now than pre-pandemic – Times Colonist

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Though it’s still a long way from its normal level, Victoria’s unemployment rate fell to 5.4 per cent in June, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent labour force survey.

Victoria trails only Trois-Rivières (4.4 per cent), Quebec City (5.1) and Sherbrooke (5.1) for the lowest rate in Canada.

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The monthly survey, released Friday, showed Victoria followed the trend in B.C., with employment increasing to pre-COVID levels.

Last month, the city employed 212,200, compared with 187,400 at the same time last year, and 194,200 in 2019 before the word pandemic became part of the everyday vernacular.

“It’s definitely positive news. B.C. is leading the country in our economic recovery and we are the only province in the country with more employment now than we had pre-pandemic,” said provincial Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon in an interview.

Provincewide, 2.63 million people were employed last month, compared with 2.57 million in June 2019.

Kahlon credited people following health guidelines along with strong relief measures from both Ottawa and B.C. for the robust numbers.

At the same time, however, the province has more unemployed people now than it did pre-pandemic.

Statistics Canada said B.C. had 194,300 unemployed people in June, up from 121,700 in June 2019, and has an unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent compared with 4.5 per cent at the same time in 2019.

In Victoria, 12,000 people were unemployed last month, up from 8,000 in June 2019. The 5.4 per cent unemployment rate in Victoria compares with 4.0 per cent in June 2019.

Kahlon, who was born and raised in Victoria, said the numbers aren’t unexpected given the city’s dependence on international tourism for a lot of summer employment.

The minister noted the labour force survey was taken a month ago, when the province was still in the second step of its reopening plan. It’s now in Step 3, with far fewer restrictions, including the opening up of cross-Canada travel.

He said as more people start to move around the country, he expects to see the labour market improve further.

“And when we see international tourism come back, it will have a bigger impact in Victoria than in other communities,” he said.

Kahlon agreed the labour shortage, which plagued the province pre-pandemic, has only been put on hold by COVID and is likely to have an impact on the province as it continues its economic recovery.

He said a host of measures will be required to tackle the problem, including increased immigration, improved childcare to free up parents to return to the workforce, improving the skills of existing workers and an increase in minimum wage to make it worthwhile to get off the sidelines and back into work.

Kahlon noted that during the pandemic, there was an increase in people migrating to B.C. from other provinces, which could also ease the pressure on the labour force.

“It means they see opportunity and hope here,” he said.

Nationally, the survey showed the Canadian economy nearly recovered the jobs lost during third-wave lockdowns as restrictions rolled back and businesses expanded their payrolls faster than expected in June.

Statistics Canada said the economy added 230,700 jobs last month after posting losses in April and May, when ­public health restrictions were ­tightened to slow the pandemic.

The national unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent for June compared with 8.2 per cent in May, which Statistics Canada said was the lowest of the pandemic since the 7.5 per cent recorded in March.

“We’re at a significant phase of reopening that might be an inflection point for our economy and jobs, where this kind of stop and start of job gains and job losses might not be taking place anymore,” said Trevin Stratton, chief economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “While this initial rebound is very promising, over the longer term there are still some issues that we need to address.”

Hiring in June was concentrated in part-time positions that rose by 263,900, bringing it basically back to pre-pandemic levels and driven by jumps in jobs in the hard-hit retail and food services sectors.

The 101,000 jobs increase in the accommodation and food services sector was the largest jump since last July, with Quebec, Alberta and B.C. accounting for most of the increase. Ontario grew more slowly because of restrictions on indoor dining.

The result for June left the country about 340,000 jobs, or almost two per cent, below pre-pandemic employment levels seen in February 2020. Statistics Canada said the employment gap is likely closer to 540,000 jobs when factoring in population growth.

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Ottawa's new COVID-19 cases back in double digits – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.

Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.

It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.

There are still no COVID-19 patients in hospital in the city, which has been the case for nine days now.

Earlier provincial officials had reported 10 new cases in Ottawa on Friday. Their numbers sometimes differ from Ottawa Public Health’s data due to different reporting times.

Provincewide, officials reported 192 new cases as the seven-day average crept up slightly.

The city administered an average of about 5,500 second shots on Wednesday and Thursday, down from more than 13,000 second doses per day last week.

Eighty-three per cent of eligible residents have received at least one shot. Sixty-nine per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, the city closed several vaccination clinics due to decreasing demand.

OTTAWA’S KEY COVID-19 STATISTICS

Ottawa is now in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Ottawa Public Health data:

  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (July 15 to July 21): 3.9 (up from 2.7)
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa (July 16 to July 22): 0.5 per cent (up from 0.2 per cent July 14-20)
  • Reproduction number (seven day average): 1.28 (up from 1.18)  

Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

There are 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, up from 24 on Wednesday. It’s the most active cases in the city in nearly two weeks.

For the second straight day, no more people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. The total number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 27,134.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health is reporting zero people in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses for a ninth straight day.

There are no patients in the intensive care unit.

These data are based on figures from Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, which refer to residents of Ottawa and do not include patient transfers from other regions.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Friday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 765,350 (+2,089)
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 624,143 (+10,919)
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 69 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa: 1,237,860 (+8,008) 

*Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario.

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

Ottawa Public Health data*:

  • Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,830 (+7)
  • Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 405
  • Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 35 (+1)
  • Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 43 (+5)
  • Percent of new cases with variant/mutation in last 30 days: 45 per cent
  • Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,117 (+8)
  • Deaths linked to variants/mutations: 101

*OPH notes that that VOC and mutation trends must be treated with caution due to the varying time required to complete VOC testing and/or genomic analysis following the initial positive test for SARS-CoV-2. Test results may be completed in batches and data corrections or updates can result in changes to case counts that may differ from past reports.

COVID-19 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY

  • 0-9 years old: Zero new cases (2,299 total cases)
  • 10-19 years-old: One new case (3,572 total cases)
  • 20-29 years-old: One new case (6,234 total cases)
  • 30-39 years-old: Three new cases (4,246 total cases)
  • 40-49 years-old: Zero new cases (3,649 total cases)
  • 50-59 years-old: One new case (3,332 total cases)
  • 60-69-years-old: One new case (1,962 total cases)
  • 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,095 total cases)
  • 80-89 years-old: Zero new cases (856 total cases)
  • 90+ years old: Zero new cases (520 total cases)
  • Unknown: Zero new cases (3 cases total)  

CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Two new cases
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: Zero new cases
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Three new cases

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Jeff Bezos' very negative rocket launch: One minuscule fix could have avoided it – Inverse

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A tsunami of dunks arrived in the wake of Jeff Bezos’ 11-minute rocket ride in a questionably shaped New Shepard launch vehicle earlier this week.

It seemed that large percentages of highly-online people were of the opinion that the world’s wealthiest man had just squandered enormous amounts of cash on a pointless joyride and that the reportedly $10 billion he’s invested so far in Blue Origin, his aerospace company, could have been better spent elsewhere.

Even reporter Soledad O’Brien got in on the pessimistic hot takes:

The question is, did Bezos and Blue Origin miss an opportunity to better shape the narrative around their media event? And, if so, what could they have done?

Revelations that Bezos might only pay a true tax rate of 0.98 percent — far less than the average American — and his moves to squash unionizing efforts at his company Amazon, certainly didn’t help the matter. The cowboy-hat-wearing CEO’s own comments thanking “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this,” were similarly tone-deaf, drawing condemnation from U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

But in some ways, those issues are orthogonal to the matter of what kind of value a suborbital flight like Bezos’ can bring to the world.

To put it another way, there is one tweak that Bezos could have made to improve the public’s perception of space travel and science, which undoubtedly took a severe beating because of his clumsy approach.

It’s something that Elon Musk — who is, no doubt just as big a huckster as Bezos — does with ease, and claims an army of space-loving fans because of it: Musk merely often explains there’s a larger purpose at play than just a rich boomer going to space.

The technology developed for the dick-shaped rocket can be used for good here, and the scientific discovery and research that tech may enable is potentially good for all humanity.

“People didn’t understand why it was important that commercial companies replicate something government did decades ago,” Laura Forczyk, owner of the space consulting firm Astralytical, tells Inverse.

“I like to talk about how money spent in space isn’t really spent in space; it’s spent on Earth. All the technologies created in spaceflight are useful to society.”

Forczyk saw the jaunt in terms of its potential for scientific discovery. New Shepard has already carried experiments for universities, NASA, and private companies on previous uncrewed flights and intends to continue to do so. Along with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which has also started taking experimental payloads into suborbital space, a larger market could develop for research opportunities in this region, Forczyk says.

Yet Blue Origin’s ham-handed attempts at self-promotion haven’t always been the finest. The company, which did not respond to a request for comment from Inverse, sent what appeared to be an extremely petty tweet aimed at their competitor, Virgin Galactic, shortly before the latter’s launch a week earlier:

“They were perhaps trying to point out, from a marketing standpoint, that their product and service had superior features,” Chris Lewicki, an engineer and space entrepreneur, tells Inverse. “In retrospect that was clearly a bad idea.”

Lewicki thinks that the misstep was relatively minor and likely to be soon forgotten. “But it creates a bit of a predisposition for people to be less receptive to the message that follows,” he said.

Perhaps Blue Origin won’t ultimately pay much of a price for such lapses in judgment. Research has shown that even negative word-of-mouth can increase public awareness of a brand and help sell goods, Jessie Liu, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, tells Inverse.

“Compared to [Elon Musk’s] SpaceX, Blue Origin was born with far less hype and publicity in the game of space travel,” she writes via email. “So even criticism about Jeff Bezos that gets people to talk about Blue Origin and create awareness is not necessarily a bad thing for the company.”

There might be an opportunity for the aerospace company to identify and covert the most engaged consumers through negative word-of-mouth, Liu added, since such comments tend to stem from people’s emotional investment, and passion can lead to activity.

Though he understood where some of it was coming from, the negative commentary frustrates Lewicki: “There seems to be a lot of attention on two or three individuals, and a wish that they shouldn’t be that wealthy or that they should be using their wealth in some different way.”

Both he and Forczyk point out that the fact that Bezos and other billionaires aren’t paying as much as they might to the U.S. government in taxes is more a matter for legislators to try to solve, and that Bezos is taking active steps to donate parts of his vast wealth to causes he deems valuable.

“For me, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection,” says Lewicki. “If I’m complaining that Bezos isn’t using his resources to charitably solve problems, then how do I rank up with using my time?”

For us standing at this moment in history, it can be hard to know what future results will come from something like this first passenger launch of New Shepard. Comparing Blue Origin to Amazon, Lewicki says that Bezos seems particularly adept at creating never-before-seen kinds of infrastructure to, say, routinely deliver packages quicker than anyone thought possible.

In the end, the haters are going to say whatever they want about Bezos and his pursuits. It’s possible (probable, even) that even if Bezos was clear about the loftier ambitions of Blue Origin — “millions of people living and working space” is the tag line — the launch would still be received poorly.

But the billionaire’s passion for space travel is deep-seated, and Lewicki says Bezos has personally told him he’s never planning to give up on that dream.

“Right now, the message he’s talking about is building the road to space,” he said. “That’s the theme he’s employing.”

Advocates for space exploration and the advancement of science and technology can hope that the road to space is a well-thought-out one, with the no-good optics and naked commercialism of this past week’s 11-minute flight quickly replaced with efforts that more clearly serve the greater good.

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COVID-19: Ottawa adult vaccinations at 69 per cent; Ontario reports 192 new cases – Ottawa Citizen

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Ottawa Public Health reported Friday that 69 per cent of adults in the capital are fully vaccinated.

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According to the OPH vaccination dashboard, updated Friday morning, 591,639 people aged 18 and over have the two shots.

In all, 83 per cent of the population 12 years and older has received one dose.

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa on Friday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 27,268.

The death toll remains unchanged at 593.

Ottawa Public Health knows of 41 active cases in the region. However, there are no COVID-19 patients in hospital.

In indicators of interest, the rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is 3.9, while the populations per cent positivity in testing is 0.5.

The reproductive number, the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, is 1.28.

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Latest COVID-19 news in Ottawa

Ontario reported 192 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Friday.

While it’s the second week the province’s numbers have been below 200, confirmed cases have climbed significantly from Monday, when 130 new cases were reported.

Currently, there are 137 people in hospital in Ontario, with 136 in ICU due to COVID-related illness and 84 on a ventilator. (Ontario Public Health statistics of ICU hospitalizations and ventilator cases contain some patients who no longer test positive for COVID-19 but who are being treated for conditions caused by the virus.)

There have been 548,986 confirmed cases and 9,308 deaths since the pandemic began.

In health regions in the Ottawa area, Renfrew and District reported three new cases. There were no new cases reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Kingston or Leeds, Grenville and Lanark units.

Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday morning.

Hospitalizations in the province declined by four patients, for a total of 67. The number of cases in ICU were unchanged at 21.

The province administered 94,624 additional vaccine doses were administered over the previous 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 376,530 cases and 11,239 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 news in Canada

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam reported Friday that 46.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada, and more than 60 per cent of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.

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