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Halifax Economy Weathers Pandemic Better Than Any Other Major Canadian City – Huddle – Huddle Today

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HALIFAX — When you line it up against other major Canadian cities, Halifax weathered the Covid-19 pandemic better than any other.

The city’s CAO and leaders from the Halifax Partnership gave an economic update to Halifax Regional Council this week — and it contained a fair amount of good news.

Jacques Dubé told council the city’s GDP contracted by 1.9 percent in 2020. That’s the lowest among major Canadian cities.

And projections show a strong GDP rebound is coming.

Dubé said Halifax’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.7 percent by the end of 2021, and then return to a “more normal” range of about 2 percent in the ensuing years.

The city also did very well attracting new residents during the pandemic.

Population growth in Halifax was down between July 2019 and June 2020 but only compared to the record-breaking previous year.

The period from 2019 to 2020 saw the city hit its second-highest level of population growth ever, driven largely by immigration.

Newly released population estimates for July 2020 to June 2021 also show strong population growth, although that is due more to people coming from other provinces, rather than other countries.

“What is different in this year is that international immigration, unsurprisingly, is down sharply while in-migration from other provinces, particularly Ontario, has jumped, Dube said.

Meanwhile, Halifax led Canadian cities in employment growth in early 2021. Unemployment did go up during the third wave in the spring but has since begun to drop again, sitting at 7.4 percent in August.

Long before the end of 2020, the city had also regained the jobs it lost at the beginning of the pandemic.

“In aggregate, we regained our Covid employment losses by the fall of 2020,” the Halifax Partnership’s Ian Munro said.

In May of 2020, Halifax had lost about 23,200 jobs. By September, it was already above pre-pandemic levels by 1,100 jobs.

Even after a dip during the third wave, Halifax still had 7,400 more jobs in August than it did before the pandemic hit.

There are, however, some concerning effects stemming from the city’s strong economic showing.

For one, house prices continue to rise sharply in Halifax.

The last few months had seen prices start to go down in the city. However, Munro pointed out the average cost of a home in September was just under $472,000. That’s a 6.6 percent jump from the month before, and well over 20 percent higher than September of last year.

The $472,000 price tag puts Halifax homes “close to the peak” of their highest prices ever.

Consumer goods are also getting more expensive. Halifax saw a year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 4.8 percent in August. The increase is 2.8 percent since January 2021.

Travel into the province is still lagging, as well.

Although not nearly as low as it was during the height of Covid-19, passenger counts at the Halifax airport remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

In August, 192,665 people passed through the airport. That’s compared to 486,551 who flew into or out of Halifax in August of 2019. There are still no cruise ship passengers coming to the city.

Overall, however, council appeared pleased with the news.

“It’s been great to see what’s happened in Halifax,” Mayor Mike Savage said after the presentation.

Trevor Nichols is a Huddle reporter in Halifax. Send him your feedback and story ideas: [email protected].

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Economy

Top economists call for radical redirection of the economy to put Health for All at the centre in the run-up to G20 – World Health Organization

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought into focus the stark reality of the large and growing inequities across the globe in access to health care and health products: for every 100 people in high-income countries, 133 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered,
while in low-income countries, only 4 doses per 100 people have been administered.

Yet, to date, the world continues to follow the same economic paradigm that doesn’t change the underlying finance structure and applies outdated thinking on economic development, which stands in the way of Health For All. As the G20 Summit approaches
in Rome from 29-31 October, where, first, health and finance ministers, and then heads of state and government, come together, there is a window of opportunity for a radical redirection from health for the economy to the economy for health for all.
The critical challenge is both to increase the magnitude of the finance available for health and to govern it in a more directed and effective manner. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) Council on the Economics of Health For All (WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All) calls now, more than ever, for clear, ambitious goals to mobilize and focus investments towards health, considering financing for health as a long-term investment and not
a short-term cost. The Council’s new brief on Financing Health for All prioritizes two key dimensions: more finance and better finance and lays out the way forward through three pathways to action:

  1. Creating fiscal space by easing artificial constraints imposed by outdated economic assumptions and reversing the harmful effects of reforms that lead to big health cuts, allowing spending and investments towards Health For All to
    increase significantly;
  2. Directing investments to ensure Health for All becomes the central purpose of economic activities, and increase public leadership and dynamic state capabilities to create a conducive regulatory, tax, industrial policy and investment
    environment; and
  3. Governing public and private finance by regulating the functioning and financing of private health markets through measures that crowd in and direct private finance towards improving health outcomes globally and equitably.

The Council believes that a new paradigm must be pursued that avoids macroeconomic policies and assumptions that move us away from Health For All. This means designing policies to reach health for all now and in the long-term and realigning finance from
all sectors and sources through conditionalities that fuel symbiotic gains in the public interest. Not only more financing of the health sector, but better-quality finance is crucial to deliver Health For All, which must be equitable and ensure a
sustainable impact on peoples’ lives.

The challenge is to change mindsets within countries that impose internal constraints on spending and to transform externally-imposed conditionalities that hinder spending on what matters for health and promote Health For All. Changing the rules of the
game is a fundamental priority of any strategy to deliver Health For All, and policymakers have the ability to rethink finance now.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the financing of health systems needs to change radically to protect and promote the health of all people,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “The latest report
by the Council on the Economics of Health For All makes a clear and compelling argument for the need for sustained financing to be directed to achieving health for all people, and for investments to be understood as long-term gains for national and
global development.”

“While health systems are under-resourced, more finance is not the only solution. The work of the Council stresses the need to reform and redirect finance in radical ways so that the objective is Health For All is designed into the financial structures,
the conditionalities and the partnerships between business and the state,” said Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Chair of the Council.

By way of background, the WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All was established in November 2020 by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Council’s core mission is to rethink how value in health and wellbeing
is measured, produced, and distributed across the economy. It will recommend a new way to shape the economy with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. Made up of ten of the world’s
most eminent economists and health experts, the Council works on four areas on how to rethink measurement of economic development, financing, capacity, and innovation with the aim of achieving Health for All. Briefs in each of these areas, and a comprehensive
final report to be produced in 2023, will be used to build momentum amongst finance ministers, heads of state/government, as well as other decision makers such as other financial authorities and international development authorities, towards changing
the structure of economic activity in favor of Health For All.

The members of the Council are Professor Mariana Mazzucato (Chair), Professor Senait Fisseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Zelia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth, Dr Vera Songwe and Dame
Marilyn Waring (see bottom of page: WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All).

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Swiss National Bank Warns of Risks With Green Economy Push – Bloomberg

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Actively pushing for a green transformation of the economy could undermine the effectiveness of the Swiss National Bank’s monetary policy, Governing Board Member Andrea Maechler said. 

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Business

UBS logs surprise 9% rise in Q3 net profit

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UBS posted a 9% rise in third-quarter net profit on Tuesday, as continued trading helped the world’s largest wealth manager to its best quarterly profit since 2015.

Its third-quarter net profit of $2.279 billion far outpaced a median estimate of $1.596 billion from a poll of 23 analysts compiled by Switzerland’s largest bank.

“Our business momentum, our focus on fueling growth, on disciplined execution and on delivering our full ecosystem to clients – all of this led to another strong quarter across all of our business divisions and regions,” Chief Executive Ralph Hamers said in a statement.

In each of the last four quarters, UBS saw double-digit percent gains in net profit as buoyant markets helped it generate higher earnings off of managing money for the rich.

From July through September, favourable market conditions, and higher lending and trading amongst its wealthy clientele, unexpectedly helped raise earnings over the bumper levels reported in the third quarter of last year.

 

(Reporting by Oliver Hirt and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields and Edwina Gibbs)

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