Official plans for an economic recovery package in Canada — green or otherwise — are still in their infancy.
There is likely to come a time when governments will use stimulus spending to boost their wounded economies. But nearly all of the federal government’s attention is still consumed by the profound challenges of containing a contagious disease and reopening communities amid an ongoing health threat.
Civil society, though, is not waiting to push the Liberal government to focus any recovery plan on emissions-reducing and sustainable projects — a push that now includes a group of environmental, financial and political figures who are hoping to draft a set of recommendations over the next two months.
The independent “task force on a resilient recovery” includes individuals who are already prominent in the discussion around moving toward a greener future, but also the former chief risk and strategy officer with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Barbara Zvan), the president of the Insurance Board of Canada (Don Forgeron), and a former deputy minister in the federal department of finance (Michael Horgan).
Among the group’s 14 members are also three former political advisors: Mira Oreck, who was a senior official in the office of British Columbia Premier John Horgan; Mitchell Davidson, former director of policy for Ontario Premier Doug Ford; and Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The task force’s stated goal is to help seize a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to build back “better,” according to an announcement to be released today.
Bruce Lourie, the environmentalist and author who is now president of the Ivey Foundation, which helped organize the group, told CBC News the impetus was twofold: both to make sure the government didn’t take its eye off the ball and invest in the “wrong kinds” of areas for the future, and to continue advancing work the foundation had already begun before the pandemic.
The task force’s report will add to a growing supply of green-focused analysis. The Canada Green Building Council released a set of recommendations last week and a coalition of clean energy experts and operators has also written to the prime minister with suggestions.
The group launching on Tuesday also holds out the possibility of showing some cross-partisan support for a set of green ideas.
“A carbon tax is obviously what people think about when they think about green policy, but there’s lots of other things that can be done that are still green,” said Davidson, who co-authored the Ontario Progressive Conservative party’s platform in 2018. “I think that the question is, if we’re doing recovery projects and we’re keeping a focus on environmentalism, we should also keep a focus on things that matter to individuals as well which is getting them back to work, putting money into people’s pockets.”
Three-part test for areas of action
Ahead of any final recommendations from his group, Lourie already sees some areas for potential action.
First, the federal government could focus on plans to retrofit homes and buildings — which account for 12 per cent of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions — to increase the energy efficiency of Canada’s physical structures. Such an initiative would create work for tradespeople across the country while reducing both energy costs and emissions.
The Liberal platform in last year’s election already promised free energy audits and interest-free loans for homeowners and landlords as part of a plan to retrofit 1.5 million homes. But expanded funding could drive even faster and deeper change.
As part of a long-term project, the federal government could look to expand the production of hydrogen, particularly in Alberta, Lourie says — an idea that is now being studied by another group in that province.
Federal funding for municipal transit systems could also be used to expand the use of electric buses.
The task force says it will evaluate ideas according to a three-part test — determining whether policies are economically timely and lasting, environmentally sound, and both equitable and feasible.
There are other issues that will come to bear on any recovery plan.
The current economic downturn has, for instance, disproportionately impacted women, service industries and low-wage workers. The health crisis has brought new attention to supply lines and how much Canada depends on international suppliers for important products like medical equipment. The state of long-term care, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, has been exposed as a significant weakness.
There will no doubt be calls to address such concerns with new investments.
The timing and implementation of any recovery plan will also depend on how well COVID-19 is contained and how long significant health-related restrictions remain in place.
Shovel ready vs. shovel-worthy projects
But there is significant pressure, both in Canada and abroad, to make sure that government stimulus is used to ensure long-term sustainability in the face of that other global threat — and that speaks to how much the climate conversation has advanced over the last 10 years.
A decade ago, when policymakers were trying to counter that last significant recession, the focus was “shovel-ready” projects — infrastructure projects that could begin quickly, providing employment and economic activity for the short term. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna has already adopted that phrase to explain how her department is analyzing potential projects.
In this downturn, there is talk instead of pursuing “shovel-worthy” investments — projects that cannot only get started quickly, but that also deserve to be funded because they fit within larger goals like reducing emissions.
In the United States, the stimulus package of 2009 did include significant funding for clean energy. But climate change was largely relegated to a secondary concern once global stock markets started to crash.
In 2020, there is a clearer and more widespread understanding that climate change is a central and immediate issue, even amid a global health crisis and an unprecedented economic shock.
“Ten years later, we’re much further along in terms of our understanding of the importance of having a more diverse economy,” Lourie said. “And having an economy that’s going to be one that will support our country in 10 years, not just in 10 weeks or 10 months.”
Seniors having big impact on local economy – Quinte News
With June being Seniors’ Month, Quinte News is looking at the impact that those 65 and over have on our community and more specifically, on local businesses.
Close to 20% of the Quinte Region’s population falls into the senior category, with the area’s cost of living, natural amenities and sometimes slower pace to life, being attractive qualities for the area to have.
But it’s not just seniors relocating here that’s making a difference for the local economy.
Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board Executive Director Dug Stevenson says, there are plenty of older people who find our area attractive as a place to visit and spend some cash.
“One of the things that’s interesting is when you consider seniors’ spending”, he says.
“Of course they’re on a fixed income, but they have fewer things they need to pay for as well. They probably don’t have a mortgage anymore, the kids are probably gone and they’re not worried about paying for things like education, so they’ve probably got a bit more set aside for that leisure spending”.
Stevenson says from a travel and tourism perspective, the seniors group is actually more comparable to Millennials, who range between the ages of 22 and 38.
“A lot of them have no strings attached. They have a fixed income, but have money set aside and they know what they want to do and go do it.”, he says.
Quinte West Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Andrews says seniors who live in the area have a strong impact on the economy, but not just as consumers of goods.
“They access a lot of services” she says. “Things like health services, some of which are privately owned businesses, or they go to hairdressers and restaurants. So definitely they are a huge economic factor when looking at the local economy and consumer spending in our region”.
Andrews also noted that while many seniors do move to our area to retire, not all of them want to get out of work completely, which adds to the local workforce.
“We are finding here in the Quinte Region especially, seniors are choosing to continue to work, maybe not at a full time level, but are available to work and look for positions that fit their experience and knowledge”, she says. “That’s definitely something for employers to think about”.
Unemployment rate hits new record even as economy adds jobs – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, June 5, 2020 5:18AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 5, 2020 3:25PM EDT
OTTAWA – Canada’s employment minister says the federal government is rethinking a key COVID-19 benefit so workers have more incentive to get back on the job, in an effort to maintain a surprising boost in job numbers from May.
Statistics Canada reported that the country got back 289,600 jobs in May – which mirrored a similar bump in the U.S. – after three million jobs were lost over March and April and about 2.5 million more people had their hours slashed.
Provincially, Quebec led the way, gaining 231,000 jobs as it became one of the first provinces to ease restrictions, doing so just before Statistics Canada collected data the week of May 10. Ontario was the only province with losses, albeit at a slower pace than in March and April.
Combined with more people reporting getting regular hours, the agency said Canada had recovered only 10.6 per cent of employment losses and absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday’s jobs report showed the unemployment rate in May rose to 13.7 per cent, the highest level in more than four decades of comparable data. But that’s because more people started looking for work – meaning the rate shouldn’t be taken as a sign of underlying weakness, said CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes.
The unemployment rate is a measure of the people looking for work who can’t find it, meaning it can actually decline if job-seekers give up, or increase as formerly discouraged seekers see new signs of hope.
Still, the monthly labour force survey showed that men gained back more jobs than women, resulting in a wider gender gap in employment losses as a result of COVID-19, and that the pandemic continued to disproportionately affect lower-wage workers.
To keep gains going, business and labour groups called for a revamp of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the employment insurance system.
The first cohort of recipients of the $500-a-week payment will max out their 16 weeks of benefits in early July. Some may qualify for employment insurance, while others may not have any work available, meaning significant drops in income that could hamper the path to recovery, said TD senior economist Brian DePratto.
The Canadian Labour Congress and Canadian Chamber of Commerce separately called for reforms to the decades-old EI system, which the Liberals determined early on in the crisis couldn’t handle the influx of jobless claims.
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough suggested all ideas are on the table when it comes to EI, and the future of the CERB.
“As we look into the months coming … we’ve got a different goal in mind: People need to get back to work safely,” she said at a midday press conference.
“So our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers, while not disincentivizing work?”
The most recent federal figures show 8.37 million people applied for the CERB, with $43.18 billion in payments as of June 2. Qualtrough said 1.2 million recipients no longer require it, although it wasn’t immediately clear why.
The Canada Revenue Agency also said this week that almost 190,000 payments of wrongfully received benefits had been made as of June 3.
Economists had been watching the CERB numbers as a proxy for Friday’s jobs report, which set up expectations for another round of job losses.
CERB figures will continued to be watched to track possible job losses and compare it to areas where there are signs of progress, said Brendon Bernard, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab.
“The strength of this rebound is going to depend to a significant degree on what happens with layoffs,” he said in an interview. “We could see some areas of the economy bounce-back as shuttered sectors reopen, but if layoffs continue, then it’s going to be tough for net job gains to be particularly strong.”
The total number of unemployed Canadians doubled from February to April, a surge driven by temporary layoffs that the vast majority of workers expected to last less than six months.
At the same time, there was a spike in the number of people who wanted to work but weren’t actively looking for jobs, likely because the economic shutdown has limited job opportunities. People not actively seeking work aren’t counted in unemployment figures.
The unemployment rate for May would have been 19.6 per cent had the report counted among the unemployed those who stopped looking for work – largely unchanged since April.
Statistics Canada said lower-wage workers recovered just over one-10th of the losses they experienced in March and April. But they continued to be a higher share of people working less than half of their usual hours.
Lower-wage workers were among the first- and hardest-hit during the shutdown, largely because they worked in industries like retail, restaurants and hotels that closed early in the pandemic.
Besides seeing less improvement generally compared with men, women with children under age six saw slower job gains than those with older children.
Rebounds were also weak for students and recent immigrants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.
Saskatchewan says economy is rebounding despite 12.5% unemployment rate – Globalnews.ca
The Saskatchewan government is feeling confident its economy is on the rebound.
By the end of April, the unemployment rate in the province was 11.3 per cent. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate is, however, the second-lowest among provinces and below the national average of 13.7 per cent.
“The Saskatchewan workforce is still being seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but there are a number of signs that show Saskatchewan’s economy is both recovering faster, and was less impacted, than other provinces,” said Jeremy Harrison, immigration and career training minister, in a statement.
“We have the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada and the number of people working rose in May, which is a strong, positive sign in the COVID-19 era. The Saskatchewan economy is positioned to strongly improve as we move forward with the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.”
In Saskatchewan, there were 600 more jobs in May than April, while 87 per cent of those working in February were working in May.
Since February, the number of hours worked in the province has dropped by 9.1 per cent. It’s the second-lowest decline in provinces. Nationally, the average decline in the number of hours worked over that same period is 19.3 per cent.
Coronavirus outbreak: All options on the table for benefits to help those impacted by COVID-19
“Looking forward, we are seeing positive economic news in Saskatchewan, including announcements about helium and lithium recently,” Harrison said.
“These new investments will bring jobs and investment to communities across the province and will help lift our economy out of the current challenges facing markets globally.”
The province said businesses in Saskatchewan are faring better than other jurisdictions, claiming to have closed fewer than other provinces did.
“This speaks to the strength of Saskatchewan’s economy and a strong reopening plan aiding in economic recovery,” the province said in a release issued on Friday.
Despite the optimism from the provincial government, the Saskatchewan NDP has laid out three actions it believes the province should take right now to strengthen the economy going forward.
First, to put Saskatchewan businesses and workers first through a Sask-first procurement plan that helps keep jobs in the province. Secondly, make the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency program more accessible.
Saskatchewan tops up economic stimulus package by $2 billion
Finally, to end the six-month lockout between Regina’s Co-op Refinery and its workers, which would put 800 Saskatchewan people back to work.
“New Democrats have urged Premier Moe and this Sask. Party government to protect jobs and small businesses, but clearly not enough has been done,” Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said.
“We know that Saskatchewan’s economy was already shrinking before COVID – and now the Premier’s lack of action to put Saskatchewan workers and businesses first is making things worse.”
Saskatchewan continues its reopen plan with Phase 3 beginning on June 8.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
UFC 250 Results: Nunes vs. Spencer – MMA Fighting
Montreal weather: A good day to stay inside with the windows open – Montreal Gazette
Unemployment rate increases in Alberta despite more jobs: StatCan – CTV News
- Media17 hours ago
3 Media and Entertainment Industry Trends Driven by the Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Content Consumption Patterns | Submit RFP for Detailed Insights | Quantzig – Business Wire
- Tech8 hours ago
Customers are reporting a bug in their iPhone 11's display – Pocketnow
- News17 hours ago
Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News
- Health13 hours ago
Long-term care company fires executive after comments made during meeting – Toronto Sun
- Health15 hours ago
Hydroxychloroquine 'useless' on COVID-19 patients, researcher says – CBC.ca
- Politics12 hours ago
Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill – CBC.ca
- Media14 hours ago
Saskatoon police Cst. placed on leave in connection with 'concerning' social media posts – CKOM News Talk Sports
- Tech23 hours ago
Poll: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics Is Out Today On Switch, Are You Getting It? – Nintendo Life