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Quebec looks to revive economy weakened by coronavirus crisis by fast tracking infrastructure projects – Global News



Quebec is looking to ramp up 202 infrastructure projects across the province in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic’s toll on the economy.

Bill 61, known as an “Act to restart Quebec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency” due to the COVID-19 crisis, was unveiled by the government on Wednesday.

As part of the plan, the government wants to accelerate the construction of schools, seniors’ homes, roads and public transit systems. If passed, the bill will allow some projects to be fast tracked without all the regular procedures in place.

Treasury Board President Christian Dubé said the province wants to help people and sectors recover during the health crisis as lockdown measures implemented in March are slowly eased. He insisted that rigor will still be used when it comes to doling out contracts.

“We will not go against laws or regulations,” he said, adding the bill will permit for certain authorizations to be given more quickly.

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READ MORE: Different deconfinement approaches spark calls for change in Quebec massage industry

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The proposed legislation will revive the economy and allow for a less bureaucratic process, according to Dubé.

“We know we were all weathering an unusual storm,” he said.

Under the plan, about 90 infrastructure projects would be ramped up in the health sector, including construction on 48 seniors’ homes. This also includes renovation plans for hospitals in Montreal, such as the renovation and expansion of Lachine Hospital.

In the education sector, about 39 projects would be fast tracked. This includes the construction of new elementary and high schools as well as the expansion of other academic institutions such as Dawson College in Montreal.

When it comes to roads and public transit, the Legault government is looking at accelerating about 50 projects. This includes the long-awaited extension to the Montreal Metro’s blue line.

READ MORE: City of Montreal publishes economic recovery recommendations issued by panel amid coronavirus crisis

Finance Minister Eric Girard described the situation as “exceptional” when outlining the details of the bill alongside Dubé.

Girard also announced that he will provide an update on the province’s finances on June 19, but warned that the pandemic has had a grip on the economy.

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“This year is going to be a negative year,” he said. “The worst year for the economy since World War Two.”

The announcement comes as Quebec saw 291 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, on Wednesday. It leads the country with 51,884 infections.

The death toll stands at 4,794 after 81 more fatalities were reported from the previous day.

As of Wednesday, the number of hospitalizations decreased by 34 for a total of 1,141. There are 158 people in intensive care.

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Britain's economic recovery faltering, Bank of England to step up spending: Reuters poll –



By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England is likely to supplement its quantitative easing war chest next month to offer more support to an economy still struggling amid coronavirus restrictions on activity and fears of a no-deal Brexit, a Reuters poll found.

Surging coronavirus infection numbers have pushed the government to tighten curbs across swathes of the country to try to stop the spread. More areas face tougher lockdowns in coming days.

A national lockdown earlier this year that forced businesses to close and citizens to stay home meant the UK economy contracted an historic 19.8% in the second quarter.

While the Oct. 13-19 poll predicted 16.7% growth last quarter, the outlook has darkened. The economy is expected to expand 2.6% this quarter and 1.0% next – weaker than the respective 3.4% and 1.3% median forecasts given last month.

For all of 2020, the economy will contract 10.1% but expand 6.1% next year, according to the poll of 78 economists, compared with the respective -10.0% and +6.1% forecasts given last month.

“The resurgence of COVID-19 across the UK and the resulting restrictions mean the recovery is set to stall. It now looks fairly inevitable that the Monetary Policy Committee will top-up its asset purchase programme,” said James Smith at ING.

With Bank Rate already at a record low of 0.10%, and 59 of 64 economists who responded to an extra question saying the MPC would not take it below zero, the focus will be on bond buying, or quantitative easing.

Having added 300 billion pounds to the programme earlier this year, taking its total projected spend on gilts to 725 billion pounds, the median forecast in the poll was for a 100 billion pound top-up on Nov. 5.

“That would give policymakers scope to continue making purchases until early summer next year if the pace of purchases stays broadly similar,” ING’s Smith said.

Bank Rate was not expected to move until 2023 at least and only two of the 68 economists polled expected any change next month.


London said on Monday the door was still open if the European Union wanted to make some small concessions to save Brexit trade talks but unless the bloc budged there would be a no-deal exit in 10 weeks.

Britain’s informal EU membership – known as the transition period – ends on Dec. 31.

“Enough progress has been made to keep the talks alive so that negotiators return to the table and a deal will eventually be done and be in place by the end of the year,” said Liz Martins at HSBC.

The latest Reuters poll gave a median 40% chance no deal is made, unchanged from last month, and as in all Reuters polls since the June 2016 decision to leave the bloc, it said the most likely outcome was still some form of free trade agreement.

“It remains in everyone’s interest to avoid a no-deal outcome,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.

“The economic headwinds posed by COVID-19 will exacerbate the costs of a no-deal Brexit, and the British government would be wise to do whatever is necessary to avoid it.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; polling by Sarmista Sen and Swathi Nair; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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The Economy Is Driving Women Out Of The Workforce And Some May Not Return : Consider This from NPR – NPR



More than 1,000,000 Americans left the workforce in September. About 80% of them were women.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Women are dropping out of the workforce in much higher numbers than men. Valerie Wilson of the Economic Policy Institute explains that women are overrepresented in jobs that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and child care has gotten harder to come by.

The situation is especially dire for Latina women, as NPR’s Brianna Scott reports. Last month, out of 865,000 women who left the workforce, more than 300,000 were Latina.

Victoria de Francesco Soto of the University of Texas at Austin explains why it’s not just the pandemic economy hurting women. Some may be left out of the recovery, too.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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This episode was produced by Brianna Scott, Lee Hale and Brent Baughman. It was edited by Sami Yenigun with help from Wynne Davis. Our executive producer is Cara Tallo.

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China just became the first country to grow its economy after Covid-19. What lessons can the U.S. learn? – NBC News



Chinese officials announced this week that the country’s economy grew by 4.9 percent in the third quarter, a positive sign from the initial Covid-19 epicenter. Some of the rebound in the world’s second-largest economy is due to containment measures that would be hard to replicate or enforce in a democracy — but there are still lessons the United States can learn.

“It’s not clear, really, that is this a credible number,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It’s just not credible in my opinion, unless you assume some very significant productivity improvement,” he said, since some metrics of industrial activity were weaker than the official GDP growth figures would indicate.

Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief economist, Asia Pacific at Natixis, noted that retail sales figures, although improving, remain lower than they were a year ago, and private sector investment remains depressed.

“The challenge ahead is whether, and to what extent, household disposable income could be further lifted to speed up consumption,” she said, as well as sustaining an export-driven manufacturing recovery in an environment where global demand remains slack.

But even the economists who doubt Beijing’s numbers agree that China’s economy is on the rebound. The IMF estimated that its GDP will grow by 1.9 percent for all of 2020, the only major economy to inch back into positive territory in a year that saw economies around the globe tumble sharply.

China’s economic improvements “would not have been possible if China was suffering from the same second waves of the virus we’re seeing in most parts of the developed world.”

“China’s success so far in preventing small clusters of Covid-19 from eruption controllably certainly was key to the economy retaining positive growth momentum in Q3,” Chanco said, adding that these improvements “would not have been possible if China was suffering from the same second waves of the virus we’re seeing in most parts of the developed world.”

To an extent, China’s success containing and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus is the result of an authoritarian government and surveillance state that had the autonomy to impose sweeping lockdowns, prohibit travel and mandate contact tracing protocols.

“There’s no doubt that the Chinese government has had tools at its disposal that you don’t have in a democracy. You can’t force everyone to download a tracing app and literally lock up thousands who are infected,” Kirkegaard said.

He also pointed out, though, that places like Taiwan and New Zealand have also succeeded in largely eradicating the spread of Covid-19. “It’s not true that it’s only dictatorships that can do this,” he said.

The difference lies in a coordinated central response, a willingness to funnel resources where needed and adherence to public health experts’ recommendations, experts said.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said early and decisive government action made all the difference in Australia, China, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. Aggressive lockdowns and cautious reopening protocols — including mandatory contact tracing and enforcement of quarantine directives — cut community spread.

“The benefits of mask-wearing and social distancing have also been taken as scientific givens, and not as subjects for political debate,” Zandi added.

Unlike the Trump administration’s crusade against increased testing, countries that have successfully contained the virus scaled up their ability to test large portions of their populations.

“They poured massive resources into testing and tracing,” Kirkegaard said. “They never doubted science and they never really had this idea that there was some sort of trade-off between the virus and the severity of the lockdown.”

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