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Montreal injects $400K to draw shoppers downtown, stimulate economy – CBC.ca

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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the city will invest $400,000 into “developing and animating” its downtown sector, as part of a $22-million plan to relaunch Montreal’s economy, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Downtown Montreal has been hit especially hard, since many offices have shifted to remote work, and there are few international tourists and no big festivals this summer. 

“Because of confinement measures, the downtown is deserted by workers and students and tourists,” Plante said. “It’s a reality we have to deal with.” 

The plan is to temporarily reorganize public space in the downtown area this summer, making it more appealing to Montreal shoppers and stimulating the local economy. There will also be pop-up art installations and “surprise” music and dance performances throughout the summer. 

Plante said the city is in discussions with the federal and provincial governments to get more funding to help downtown businesses survive. 

Montreal is hoping to draw people to its downtown sector while encouraging physical distancing and discouraging group gatherings. 

Starting Tuesday, reorganized public spaces will be set up in the area bounded by Atwater Street and Papineau Avenue, Sherbrooke Street and the St. Lawrence River. 

Seven large outdoor terrasses and public squares will be available to the public starting July 31. More than 150 artists will set up various types of art installations, music, dance and other spontaneous performances at the locations. 

These terrasses will be set up at the Jardins du Centre St-Jax, at Place d’Youville, at the corner of Saint-Laurent and René-Lévesque boulevards, at Place des Festivals in the Quartier des spectacles, as well as at Les Jardins Gamelin.

The plan was developed in collaboration with Montreal’s chamber of commerce, Tourisme Montréal and the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership. 

‘Downtown is suffering’

Unlike more residential neighbourhoods where people are shopping locally, downtown relies on people working in the vicinity or students, many of whom have left the city for the summer. 

Michel Leblanc, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, said that fewer than five per cent of office workers have returned to the downtown area. 

“Montreal is suffering. Downtown is suffering,” Leblanc said. 

On top of that, many of the millions of tourists who visit Montreal every year are staying away. 

In 2018, 11 million tourists visited Montreal, generating $4.5 billion in economic spinoffs. 

“We have one million tourists this year,” said Yves Lalumière, president of Tourisme Montréal. “Ninety per cent of revenues have disappeared.” 

He urged Montrealers to take advantage of the downtown area now that there are “practically no tourists.” 

That also means there is now plenty of space to park downtown. Plante announced 1,000 discount parking spaces at the Complexe Desjardins and Palais des congrès, and encouraged Montrealers to take the metro or cycle downtown as well.

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Economy

Thai leader says unity necessary to revive virus-hit economy – News 1130

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister, facing growing demands from students for change, warned Thursday that the nation must pull together to overcome the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech marking the appointment of a new team of financial specialists to his Cabinet, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the economic crisis will not go away quickly.

Thailand has been praised for its handling of the health effects of the coronavirus, with no local cases reported for 80 days. But it has suffered an especially strong shock to its economy because of its heavy dependence on tourism and exports.

Prayuth’s speech comes at a time of growing political pressure, as a student-led protest movement issues increasingly strident calls for his government to step down, the military-installed constitution to be revised, and limits to free speech to be lifted to promote democracy.

Some of the protesters’ criticisms challenge aspects of the country’s constitutional monarchy, setting them at odds with the conservative political establishment led by royalists and the military.

Prayuth, as army commander, led a coup in 2014 that ousted an elected government, served as prime minister in the military regime that followed, and returned as prime minister after a general election last year that was widely seen as free but not fair.

He declared Thursday that “our future is in the hands of the young,” but pushed aside the demands of the mainly young protesters at frequent rallies around the country.

“Right now, we must focus on the economic survival of tens of millions,” he said. “Let’s get the economy going first, first get that done by working together, and we can look to fixing the other issues, collaboratively, later.”

He also referred to the political conflict that has afflicted the country for much of the past decade and a half, including street clashes and two military coups.

“The politics of division that rejects a united approach to solving problems belongs to another era in history,” he said.

Prayuth said he appointed experts rather than politicians to the Cabinet to manage financial policy because “the economy is as big a threat to our lives as is the health threat.”

The Asian Development Bank recently forecast that the economy will contract by 6.5% in 2020, compared to its December 2019 projection of 3.0% growth.

“We are a small boat in a big ocean, and our economy can only start returning to normality when the rest of the world starts returning to normality,” Prayuth said.

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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As economy recovers, some Toronto restaurants commit to end tipping – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO – As the Canadian economy continues to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, some restaurants in Toronto are saying goodbye to a service industry staple: tipping.

So far three restaurants — Richmond Station, Ten and Burdock Brewery — have publicly signed onto doing away with the practice.

The aim is to make the industry more equitable and provide service workers with access to the social safety nets afforded to other professions.

Each of them has instead implemented what is known as a “hospitality included” fee — essentially an enforced gratuity, usually set at 18 per cent of the bill.

Unlike the practice of “tip-pooling,” which typically pays back-of-house staff such as cooks and dishwashers significantly less than front-of-house staff, a hospitality included fee is designed to be more evenly distributed.

Ryan Donovan, co-owner of Richmond Station, says his team decided it was the right choice when they saw how badly service workers were hit by the pandemic.

But James Rilette, vice-president of the industry group Restaurants Canada, doesn’t think ending tipping will go over well with customers.

He says conversations with restaurant owners and customers over the years have led him to believe that consumers tend to prefer tipping over price increases on menu items.

Rilette says the biggest problem is sticker shock — since people are going to react to seeing the price of their burger go up 20 per cent.

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Thai leader says unity necessary to revive virus-hit economy – 570 News

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister, facing growing demands from students for change, warned Thursday that the nation must pull together to overcome the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech marking the appointment of a new team of financial specialists to his Cabinet, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the economic crisis will not go away quickly.

Thailand has been praised for its handling of the health effects of the coronavirus, with no local cases reported for 80 days. But it has suffered an especially strong shock to its economy because of its heavy dependence on tourism and exports.

Prayuth’s speech comes at a time of growing political pressure, as a student-led protest movement issues increasingly strident calls for his government to step down, the military-installed constitution to be revised, and limits to free speech to be lifted to promote democracy.

Some of the protesters’ criticisms challenge aspects of the country’s constitutional monarchy, setting them at odds with the conservative political establishment led by royalists and the military.

Prayuth, as army commander, led a coup in 2014 that ousted an elected government, served as prime minister in the military regime that followed, and returned as prime minister after a general election last year that was widely seen as free but not fair.

He declared Thursday that “our future is in the hands of the young,” but pushed aside the demands of the mainly young protesters at frequent rallies around the country.

“Right now, we must focus on the economic survival of tens of millions,” he said. “Let’s get the economy going first, first get that done by working together, and we can look to fixing the other issues, collaboratively, later.”

He also referred to the political conflict that has afflicted the country for much of the past decade and a half, including street clashes and two military coups.

“The politics of division that rejects a united approach to solving problems belongs to another era in history,” he said.

Prayuth said he appointed experts rather than politicians to the Cabinet to manage financial policy because “the economy is as big a threat to our lives as is the health threat.”

The Asian Development Bank recently forecast that the economy will contract by 6.5% in 2020, compared to its December 2019 projection of 3.0% growth.

“We are a small boat in a big ocean, and our economy can only start returning to normality when the rest of the world starts returning to normality,” Prayuth said.

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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