The Victoria Day long weekend for Rob Watson meant friends, sunshine, barbecue, beer and a cottage.
The 36-year-old laughingly remembers batting away black flies on morning runs in Port Stanley, Ont. He’d jump off the dock afterward to cool off, then crack a cold one before unfolding in a Muskoka chair for a lazy afternoon by the lake.
“(Victoria Day) is kind of when Canadians come out of hibernation,” said Watson, a competitive runner. “It’s like: summer is here. It’s a very Canadian thing.”
This year, Canada’s unofficial start to summer has been pushed back by COVID-19. The long weekend known fondly as May Two-Four in parts of the country has been all but cancelled.
That cottage getaway, the Blue Jays game under an open Rogers Centre roof, or beers on a patio have been achingly replaced by blank squares on the calendar.
Canadians have largely supported physical distancing, and most understand it’s a necessary effort to avoid a potentially catastrophic spread of coronavirus. In a recent Leger poll, 97 per cent of respondents said they practise social distancing and a majority suggested they did not want to rush the reopening of venues, summer camps, bars and galleries.
Still, being able to hug friends and family and reconnect with people outside of their household is at the top of the list of things people miss most, according to an Angus Reid survey conducted after Easter.
And many Canadians, experts say, will feel the loss this weekend.
“One way to think about this pandemic, aside from all the illness, death and stress is that it’s also about loss, and it’s about the loss of all the things that we take for granted — the capacity to visit family or friends or go on public transit, go to a restaurant, go to a movie, go to a wedding,” said Diana Brecher, a clinical psychologist and Ryerson University professor. “There’s so many things that have been cancelled.”
When we’re mourning a loss, anniversaries crank up those feelings of bereavement, Brecher said.
“It’s like this big reminder of ‘Oh, that person, or that experience is no longer accessible to me,”‘ she said.
The May long weekend is also warm relief after a long winter.
“We’re Canadians, we live through this long winter and just as it starts to get nice, we’re told, ‘Don’t go out.’ Don’t be in nature that we’ve been craving for six months,” Brecher said.
“So not only is it a loss of what we typically associate with this particular weekend, the gateway to summer and relaxation and freedom and all the things we associate with summer vacations, it’s also a reminder of everything else we’ve lost.”
Karen Thomson will miss the loaves of jalapeno cheddar bread from the Old Country Market just off Alberni Highway on Vancouver Island. Goats graze on the grassy roof of the whimsical market.
Thomson, who turns 57 on Monday, has spent virtually every birthday and May long weekend since she was nine at her family’s cabin at nearby Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
“It’s just nice to get away, sit and read, have lots of wine,” said Thomson, whose dad Barney built the cabin, which has an unobstructed view of the ocean.
B.C. Ferries has reminded people to avoid non-essential travel this weekend, citing “limited supplies, health-care equipment and resources” in a statement.
Thomson’s family camped on the land for the first couple of years before building the cabin. Its plywood floors were replaced 15 years ago, but it’s otherwise unchanged. Her dad’s ashes are scattered there.
Kris Mychasiw will miss his morning double espresso on the patio of Non Solo Pane bakery in Dorval, Que. He loved feeling the breeze coming off Lake Saint-Louis.
“Places like these are what bring communities together, where friendships are built and fostered,” said Mychasiw, a sales and sponsorship executive who was furloughed several weeks ago. “Montreal is such a great city full of events and special culture that isn’t replicated anywhere else in North America.”
Quebec has had more than 73,000 confirmed cases and more than 5,400 deaths. Montreal is the epicentre of the coronavirus in Canada.
“It’s a sad time in our city,” said Mychasiw.
Jane Watanabe’s TV is usually turned to sports on Victoria Day weekend, which falls in the thick of the NBA and NHL playoffs. The 66-year-old legal secretary is a lifelong sports fan. She sometimes goes to Blue Jays games alone, buying 500-level tickets on the spur of the moment. Hockey is her first love.
“All three leagues (MLB, NHL and NBA) are shut down at the same time which for me I just think to myself ‘Oh my God, I’m missing my sports so much,”‘ Watanabe said.
She has the Raptors’ Game 6 championship victory over Golden State last year recorded. She often plays it while she’s puttering around her kitchen.
Watanabe sees the big picture.
“People are dying. It’s a pandemic,” she said. “I do miss my sport. But that just sounds callous when other stuff is going on that is much bigger.”
David Rios will miss “Murph.”
The classic Crossfit workout is named for Michael Murphy, a U.S. Navy Seal who died in Afghanistan in 2005, and received the Medal of Honor.
Crossfitters across North America do Murph — a mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, mile run — on Victoria Day in Canada, and Memorial Day in the U.S.
“It’s just that anticipation and the build-up to that day, when everyone comes together and does Murph as one,” Rios said. “It will obviously be different this year.”
Gordon Flett, a York University Professor and a Canada Research Chair in personality and health, said it’s important to keep optimistic and find good distractions this weekend — music, reading, podcasts — to avoid “ruminating about how they wish it was but isn’t right now.
“And keep taking things day-to-day and remind yourself occasionally that you made it this far, and this holiday weekend will hopefully be back to normal next year.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2020.
Canada unexpectedly adds 289600 jobs on gradual reopening – BNNBloomberg.ca
Canada’s labour market unexpectedly strengthened after two-straight months of record losses as the country gradually reopens from COVID-19 related restrictions.
Employment rose by 289,600 in May, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa, surprising economists who had been anticipating more losses last month. The gains were across most industries and provinces, though largely driven by higher employment in Quebec, the province hardest hit by the pandemic.
The numbers echo recent high-frequency data, which had signaled a recovery is underway, with job postings increasing and more Canadians reporting an increase in work at the end of May. They will be a relief to policy makers who had been scrambling to inject hundreds of billions in cash into the economy to keep it afloat. Still, just under 5 million remain without work or substantially reduced hours with the jobless rate at postwar records.
“The surprisingly positive readings on employment paint a more optimistic picture of the early part of the recovery, but there’s still a long road back,” Royce Mendes, an economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a research report. “The increase in May only represents 10 per cent of the COVID-19-related job losses and absences that occurred over the prior two months.”
The pick up in May follows an unprecedented loss of about 3 million jobs in March and April. More than 2 million employed Canadians continue to experience much lower hours worked than pre-crsisis.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 13.7% in May, from 13 per cent in April, as people returned to the labor force. Economists in a Bloomberg survey expected a loss of 500,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate rising to 15 per cent.
Canada’s currency extended gains on the result, appreciating 0.7 per cent to $1.3406 against its U.S. counterpart at 9:46 a.m. Toronto time. Yields on two-year government bonds rose 2 basis points to 0.35 per cent.
The better-than-expected report suggests the governments programs to cushion the blow to the labor market are working. By mid-May, 179,000 businesses had applied for the government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy program. The pace of applications to Canada’s emergency income benefit program has also decelerated in recent weeks, suggesting the worst of the layoffs and job losses is over.
In addition to the employment pick up, Statistics Canada said the number of people who worked less than half their usual hours dropped by 292,000. That means the number of Canadians who have either lost their job or worked substantially fewer hours has fallen to just under 5 million, from about 5.5 million in April. Hours worked rose 6.3 per cent in May from the prior month but were still 23 per cent below February’s levels .
The surprise jump reflects the cautious reopening of the economy across provinces. By the time the employment survey was taken from May 10 to May 16, some provinces including B.C., Saskatchewan and Quebec allowed some non-essential businesses to reopen.
Quebec accounted for nearly 80% of May’s gains, the statistics agency said. In contrast, Ontario -– where the economy remained largely shut until May 19 –- saw more losses.
In the early days of the reopening, employment rebounded more strongly among goods producers, the data show. The goods-producing sector added 165,000 jobs versus 125,000 in services. Lower-wage jobs also rebounded more, particularly in retail trade, accommodation and food services.
Demographically, male employment increased more than twice as fast as that for women, consistent with the more rapid increase in the goods-producing industry. Women were among the earliest victims of the Covid-19 related job losses in March and the latest data suggest they are slower to recover as well.
“The kinds of jobs that reopened earlier tend to be more male dominated in employment and also that more women don’t know how to get back to work because they don’t know what to do with their kids because schools aren’t open,” said Armine Yalnizyan, a research fellow at the Atkinson Foundation.
Women with at least one child under age 6 showed a slower return to work than women with older children. Statistics Canada said it will continue to monitor labor market outcomes for men and women with children in the months to come.
Youth are still suffering heavily from the Covid-19 economic shutdown. While employment recovered by 30,000 for those aged 15-24, the cumulative job losses for this age cohort are still a whopping 843,000 from February to May.
–With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.
London region sees 28400 jobs lost to COVID-19 – CTV News London
LONDON, ONT. —
The unemployment rate in London increased dramatically in May, according to Statistics Canada.
London’s jobless rate climbed to 11.7 per cent in May, compared to 8.9 per cent in April.
It’s the lowest number of people working in London since 2003, when there were over 80,000 fewer people living in the area.
Based on a three-month rolling average, London-St. Thomas has lost 28,400 people from its labour force – and that’s just since February.
That figure includes Shannon Rumble, “Since the beginning when everything shut down, I haven’t been to work at all.”
Temporarily laid off from her job as a line cook, federal CERB payments are helping, but Rumble needs things to get back to normal soon.
“I’m a single mom, so (my daughter) can’t go to day care. My parents are helping out, but I can’t go to work if she can’t go to school or day care,” she explains.
“Its not just numbers, it’s people,” London Mayor Ed Holder isn’t sugar coating the situation, “It impacts people on a very personal level and if you are trying to make a mortgage (payment), or make sure your kids are alright, I get that.”
From the perspective of businesses, Holder says large employers who are part of his COVID-19 economic task force are balancing an urgent desire to get staff back to work, with the need to keep them safe from COVID-19.
“We will be doing business, we may just be doing it differently,” he says.
Holder predicts a moderate, consistent comeback as businesses reopen, “I am optimistic that, while I don’t think it’s a quick recovery, I think it will be steady.”
On a national level, Statistics Canada reported a record high unemployment rate even as the economy added 289,600 jobs in May, with businesses reopening amid easing public health restrictions.
The national unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, topping the previous high of 13.1 per cent set in December 1982.
The increase in the unemployment rate came as more people started looking for work.
The increase in the number of jobs come after three million were lost over March and April.
The average estimate from economists is for the loss of 500,000 jobs in May and for the unemployment rate to rise to 15.0 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
– With files from CTV’s Melanie Borrelli and The Canadian Press.
What do the new CMHC rules mean for homebuyers? – Globalnews.ca
Getting mortgage default insurance is about to get harder after Canada’s federal housing agency announced stricter lending standards on Thursday.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says it will no longer allow homebuyers to use borrowed funds for their down payment, will require a higher credit score from at least one borrower and will lower the threshold for how much debt applicants can carry compared to their income.
The changes, which come into effect July 1, will reduce the purchasing power of homebuyers who opt for CMHC insurance and likely leave insured mortgage applicants in pricey markets with fewer options, according to mortgage brokers.
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For example, someone making $60,000 a year with a five per cent down payment and no pre-existing debt would be able to afford a home with a maximum home price that is roughly 11 per cent lower than what they would have been able to buy before the new rules, according to McLister’s calculations.
Economists say the measures could discourage some prospective homebuyers from entering the market.
CMHC said it will require a credit score of at least 680, up from the current minimum of 600. It will also lower the maximum amount of debt applicants are allowed to carry compared to their income.
To measure the latter, lenders use two key metrics: the gross debt service ratio (GDS), or the share of income used to cover the mortgage and other housing costs like property taxes, and the total debt service ratio (TDS), the share of income used to cover housing costs plus the cost of servicing other debts.
CMHC is lowering the maximum GDS from 39 per cent to 35 per cent and the maximum TDS from 44 per cent to 42 per cent.
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Banning the use of borrowed funds to finance down payments will likely have a more marginal effect, as most Canadians rely on savings, investments and financial help from family for down payments, Laird added.
Mortgage insurance, which protects lenders from the risk of borrowers defaulting on their payments, is mandatory in Canada for loans with a down payment of less than 20 per cent.
Mortgage default insurance is available from CMHC as well as private companies such as Genworth MI Canada Inc. and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co.
While the new CMHC rules do not apply to Canada’s private mortgage insurers, they could adopt the new policy on a voluntary basis.
Private mortgage insurance providers could become “the only games left in town” for homebuyers in expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver, where borrowers generally have higher debt ratios, McLister noted.
McLister is critical of CMHC’s decision to tighten the rules at a time when the economy is already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 public health restrictions.
“Normally, you don’t rock the boat when you’re already taking on water,” McLister wrote in a blog post shortly after the policy announcement. “But that’s what CMHC has done,” he added.
Canada’s housing agency has said it’s concerned that already high household debt levels will soar in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, increasing the risk that overstretched homeowners won’t be able to keep up with their mortgage payments.
The new rules “will protect homebuyers, reduce government and taxpayer risk and support the stability of housing markets while curtailing excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth,” said CMHC head Evan Siddall in a statement.
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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