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Job guarantee program could bolster economy more than basic income, says author –



While an all-party committee on poverty is reviewing what a basic income guarantee could look like on P.E.I., a suggestion by a Charlottetown social justice group is going one step further with a job guarantee program.

A member of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice pitched members of P.E.I.’s special committee on poverty on the idea that a job guarantee program would do more than a basic income guarantee to combat the root causes of poverty.

Pavlina Tcherneva is an associate professor of economics at Bard College in New York, who recently published a book titled, The Case for a Job Guarantee.

She says a job guarantee program is essentially an employment safety net — a federal employment program administered locally that provides basic job opportunities, with wages and benefits, to those seeking a job — that would be more beneficial than basic income.

Pavlina Tcherneva is an economist and associate professor, as well as the author of The Case for a Job Guarantee. (Pavlina Tcherneva/Twitter)

“In my view, the job guarantee is better, but it certainly coexists with some basic income for people who cannot work for one reason or another — but income alone doesn’t create the job opportunities that are already missing,” she said.

“We really need a transitional program, we need some sort of guarantee that folks that are searching for work can find it. And while basic income may be temporary assistance, folks who receive basic income report that they still need work, they are looking for work and they just cannot find it. So the job guarantee is that mechanism.”

People who are out of work, for whatever reason, have a “terrible time” finding employment, Tcherneva said — and have a harder time finding work than someone already employed.

The economy goes through these cycles, ups and downs, and usually the collateral damage are people.— Pavlina Tcherneva, economist

“In fact, firms do not like to hire the unemployed, and then they slip into long-term unemployment, and they suffer enormous social and economic costs. So by comparison, the job guarantee will provide first employment opportunity, also the on-the-job training, as well as all of the other support services that unemployment offices provide,” she said.

“By comparison with being faced by mass unemployment, having a job is actually really better from the point of view of the employer, but also the program itself will help with placement.”

‘Automatic stabilizer’

A federally-funded job program also serves to stabilize the economy, Tcherneva argued, ensuring people are able to continue to earn money and, therefore, spend money.

“As we are acutely aware, the economy goes through these cycles, ups and downs, and usually the collateral damage are people — they lose their jobs,” she said.

We have found occasions in our historical past where we know the government can guarantee employment.— Pavlina Tcherneva, economist

“It’s that very expenditure that will provide the stimulus to the economy to kick-start private sector activity and employment. As that recovers, then people transition back into private sector jobs, and the public role shrinks, so it is an automatic stabilizer.”

Tcherneva said there is often opposition to a job guarantee program, which she believes stems from an ideological bias, but some of the scrutiny that kind of proposal would face may be minimized, given the economic realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think also there is this tacit assumption that somehow unemployment is unavoidable and that perhaps unemployment is even necessary to stabilize the economy … I think that we really need to question these very deeply,” she said.

“We have found occasions in our historical past where we know the government can guarantee employment. Unfortunately, that has happened during wartime — but we certainly can do this for civilian purposes. I think it’s just the shift of perspective and just realizing that the costs are there and we just can spend our resources in much more fruitful ways.”

Meanwhile, P.E.I.’s special committee on poverty has asked for a five-month extension until November to decide whether to recommend a basic income guarantee for the province. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

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BLAKE DOYLE: Anticipation of economic direction –



Approaching the middle of August, Prince Edward Island’s economy is entering a stage where we can assess the seasonal cycle. We can evaluate the success of our tourism season, and the effectiveness of our reopening. Having spent 25 years as a tourism operator outside Charlottetown, the seasonal peak always occurred prior to Old Home Week when traffic starts to migrate toward the capital centre. So this is a good time to calibrate register receipts.

But reliable data is in short supply. By observation, I would concede that Island business experienced a burst of enthusiasm through each successive stage of economic reopening. The pent-up energy of buying ice cream, browsing retail, dinning out or getting a haircut was intense; but now satisfied.

As increased competition for share of wallet spreads the local purchasing power across many seasonal businesses, the influx of tourists has been appreciated, but muted, as measured in traffic flows.

The long-lasting consequences of the pandemic shutdown is an adjustment to consumerism. Shelter in place, eat at home, shop online and suspend travel. These are economy-breaking behaviours, which will take time to readjust.

Business continuity

After a false-start in March, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King recast his economic guidance taskforce in the middle of May. This is one of the most diverse and impressive group of industry leaders recently assembled, under the banner of the Business Continuity Group (BCG). There is strong thought-leadership embedded, but the group is unwieldy.

A quarter into the BCG mandate and with little communication outside a twitterbot that rebroadcast a few community tweets, the business community is ravenous for the promise offered in the group’s inception.

Reliable, decision-worthy data lags too long in a responsive environment. Even Jerome Powell, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, is looking at non-standard, high-frequency data to make assessments — data like credit card purchases. What he has seen in the U.S. is an economic uptick in May and June where consumer spending recovered half off the March lows and employment recovered one-third of their losses. But in July, partially from viral resurgence, credit card purchases have slowed, and small business job growth is stalling.

This data is not perfect, but it is the best available. The diversity of the BCG and the breadth of industries touched can provide real-time, generalized analytics on accommodation bookings, retail sales, tourism investment, manufacturing and business purchases. This information is essential for all Island small businesses when forecasting investment, hiring or compression into the fall. We need to release this data.

Weekly updates

I would appeal to the premier to release preliminary findings, not the euphoric economic restart optimism, but practical trending data and provide this information in real-time on a weekly basis. Business needs current information on which to make informed decisions.

If elements of the economy are performing well — and some sectors absolutely are — this is great news. If sectors are suffering — and unquestionably some are — then use this data for policy directives to induce and support industry.

Our seasonal economy is within a quarter of annual suspension. The economy needs a plan for the “off season” with federal CERB and rental rebates winding down, the economic underpinnings will feel the challenges deferred from spring.

The premier has mused about encouraging Islanders to apply tourism dollars locally. Perhaps economic inducements can be offered to Islanders this fall/winter.                                                      

New initiatives

In 1891, the Merchant Bank of Prince Edward Island issued bank notes. Can the government issue a 10-per-cent Buy-P.E.I. credit for local money spent in our Island bubble? 

This encourages a local spend and multiplication benefit at a time when our domestic Island economy will be entirely self-reliant … but still competing with Amazon, Walmart and Costco.

Keep the spend-and-tax revenue local. Easy decision!

Island business should be extended provincial benefits to maintain post-seasonal employment, or even add new hires. This should be paired with the return to school plan and a goal of recovering our labour participation rate to an aspirational 75 per cent.
Our government could offer business interruption insurance, available to companies that can demonstrate a year-over-year decline of a measurable percentage, lagging by a quarter to support stabilization.

Construction carries our economy; as goes construction, so goes our economy. But population is required to continue this run. According to the province’s population projections in September 2019, our natural population rates turns negative in seven years. Now is the time to work on an Employ P.E.I. strategy to attract professionals who are eager to live in our pristine (COVID free) environment and contribute to our economy. (We see these people regularly through my recruitment firm).

More difficult, the government needs to articulate a strategy to taper investment or redirect its budget to economic stabilization. Spending cannot continue in all directions – but investing in the economy will increase revenues.

The Business Edge is always happy to dispense free advice, the value of which is equivalent to the cost. Perhaps other Islanders can contribute to this conversation on our collective economic future.

Blake Doyle is The Guardian’s small business columnist.   


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GUEST COLUMN: Diversify the economy through clean growth –



By Kieran Hanley / Special to The Telegram

As the world battles through the pandemic, its nations are deliberating on what shape global economic recovery will take. There is a growing sense that investments should meet two tests: that they contribute to economic activity and jobs right away; and that they will provide longer-term benefits for the economy, the environment, and society. In short, economic recovery and “clean growth” should go hand in hand.

This is the case in Canada. Long before the pandemic, our federal government was aggressively investing in initiatives related to climate change, sustainability and clean technology. So, it is a safe bet to assume that its approach to economic recovery will follow suit. Influential groups like the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery say that building back better means “supporting the jobs, infrastructure and growth that will keep Canada competitive in the clean economy of the 21st century.”

For its part, Newfoundland and Labrador has been hit hard by not just the pandemic, but also the collapse of oil prices. The reality is that we need to take advantage of any lifeline available to us. And so, part of our economic recovery has to be making the most of any and all federal programs — many of which will have a clean growth twist. We need to be prepared for this.

Yet the opportunity for our province extends far beyond simply being reactive.

There are also opportunities for brand new industries that can put our province at the forefront of the energy transition and diversify our economy.

The pursuit of sustainability within our offshore oil and gas industry will lead to the development and application of new low-carbon products, services and processes that will not only be demanded worldwide and across multiple oceans sectors — but will also contribute to the long-term success of this industry here at home.

The accelerated electrification of our economy will contribute to mitigating the costs of Muskrat Falls. This means increasing the number of electric cars on our roads, converting our Metrobus fleets to run on electricity and switching buildings from fossil fuel-based heating sources to electric. This also means designing a future that involves electrified ferries, seaport and airport operations and industrial processes.

These are just two areas where clean growth perfectly aligns with existing provincial priorities and will create jobs. But there are also opportunities for brand new industries that can put our province at the forefront of the energy transition and diversify our economy.

The production of hydrogen is an important example. Hydrogen is a fuel that emits zero emissions and can be produced through low or zero-emissions means. The past year has seen rapid progress for this industry, with interest intensifying during the pandemic. Several countries are forcefully pursuing its production, with Canada set to announce a national strategy in the near future. Given our existing marine infrastructure and access to enormous renewable energy resources, Newfoundland and Labrador may be in an excellent position to become a global producer of hydrogen — as we are of oil today.

But to make the most of any of these opportunities, we need a plan. That is why in June, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA) submitted a series of recommendations for Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic recovery — with a key action being the creation of a “Clean Growth Directorate” within government. Between navigating resources, regulations, incentives and innovation supports, many government departments have a role to play in the pursuit of clean growth, but none are entirely responsible. A whole-of-government approach to clean growth — and meeting our net zero commitments — is required in order to attain the level of proactivity that is needed. With new provincial leadership comes an opportunity to take deliberate and targeted action.

The clean growth opportunity is immense. It not only provides environmental benefits, but also contributes to economic resilience in a world that is increasingly concerned with greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts. Newfoundland and Labrador is blessed with a wealth of resources and is home to a budding technology sector that can enable our province to become one of the cleanest jurisdictions on the planet and an inspiration to other regions around the world.

Let’s put people to work today, building the economy of tomorrow. NEIA stands ready as a partner in the pursuit of any and all options.

Kieran Hanley is executive director of NEIA, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association.


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Global economy faces challenges amid pandemic, de-globalizing trend: experts



The development of the global economy faces various challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc worldwide and the de-globalizing trend is becoming ever stronger, experts said in an interview on Thursday with China Global Television Network (CGTN).

In the interview, Jimmy Zhu, chief strategist at Fullerton Research and James Early, CEO of Stansberry China, shared their views on how the world economy might evolve amid the pandemic and what the future path might be for the economic ties between China and the United States, the two major countries now accounting for over one-third of global economic output and over 50 percent of global growth.

Amid the pandemic, governments worldwide are striking a balance between reopening the economy and curbing the spread of the virus.

“Well, it’s a very difficult balance. In the beginning, people think, ‘Okay it’s a half-half’. But what we look at is once you need to open a business, especially the restaurants, the bars, it’s very easy to transition. So I think before the vaccine out finally, I mean I got to say, I hope it’s not, but it seems like it’s very difficult to balance the two. So sometimes the policymakers need to be a bit prudent or a bit flexible when dealing with such things,” Zhu said.

Beyond the epidemic, Early reckoned that the de-globalizing forces are growing worldwide, setting even more barriers for the free flow of trade.

“Well look, we will definitely have less of it and that’s just the bummer. As a simple example, I was looking at my iPhone and imagine if everybody had to make their own iPhone, it would just be so inefficient. Right? The globalization brings us great benefits. But to switch analogies, I was at the beach a few years ago and when I saw these little crabs and they were very timid. As soon as they got scared, they go into their hole. But then gradually they’d come back out again. And I think we’ll see the same thing with nations, meaning, we are de-globalizing, period. That’s happening, but it’s not really complete and it’s only going to probably be less than 10 year cycle, which is short in terms of humanity. And I think then things will start to move again. But it’s going to be a painful 10 years, and I think it’s going to teach us how precious that trade and globalization really is, because maybe we don’t value it enough right now,” said Early.

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