Quebec treasury board president Sonia Lebel tabled a new bill on Wednesday to speed up certain infrastructure projects and reboot the economy.
As the province faces a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Lebel said fighting the virus and strengthening the economy are top priorities for the Quebec government.
“Last spring we were forced to put Quebec on pause,” Lebel said, adding the acceleration of infrastructure projects is a key part of government’s plan to get the economy back on track.
Lebel explained that the gradual and careful resumption of activities wasn’t enough by itself to offset the negative impacts the health crisis.
Bill 66 replaces Bill 61, known as an “Act to restart Quebec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency”, which was heavily criticized after in was tabled in early June by then-treasury board president Christian Dubé.
Opposition parties at the National Assembly raised several concerns at the time, saying Bill 61 could leave the province vulnerable to corruption and collusion since it would allow some projects to be sped up without all the checks and balances in place.
Quebec’s Bill 61 sent back to the drawing board
Lebel said she heard the critics and the the most controversial aspects of Bill 61 were abandoned in the revamped bill.
“It is possible to speed up the start of projects without compromising on integrity without compromising on the environment,” she said.
Among other things, the government is abandoning the idea of bypassing the law on public contracts.
“We are not touching in any way whatsoever the law on public contracts, this is not a process we are accelerating,” Lebel said.
The government is also dropping the idea of extending the state of health emergency indefinitely.
Under a state of emergency, the government has extraordinary powers. The law suspends many civil rights and normally a government is only able to enact it 10 days at a time.
Lebel also said the new bill addresses environmental concerns raised by environmental groups and that processes and safeguards are well defined.
Projects with moderate to low environmental risks will be allowed to go ahead with construction and provide environmental assessments once work is underway.
Lebel explained that environmental protocols are already known for many of the projects and environmental laws and standards will be respected.
“We can anticipate what the problems will be,” she said. “We know whether there is a wetland or not… we know how to protect it or rebuild it, if necessary, if we have to damage it.”
She also said the environment ministry would be supervising the projects and that the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) would — except for two projects — maintain its role of informing and consulting with citizens, carrying out environmental investigations and providing recommendations to inform government decisions.
The two projects include the revamping of Highway 117 between Labelle and Rivière Rouge, and the widening of Highway 30 between Brossard and Boucherville.
“Highway 117 is one of the deadliest roads in Quebec,” Lebel said, “The work is is necessary, expected and requested,”
As for Highway 30, widening the road would allow for an express bus route and is part of wider plans to improve traffic congestion within the wider Montreal metropolitan area.
By bypassing the BAPE, it will allow to speed up the completion of the projects by 20 months, Lebel said, adding that they will be subject to all other environmental laws and requirements.
Initially, the province wanted to fast-track 202 infrastructure projects — including the construction of schools, seniors’ homes, roads and public transit systems.
Under Bill 66, however, that list has been whittled down to 181 projects.
“It’s a closed list,” Lebel said, meaning projects not included under the proposed legislation will have to follow regular procedures.
Bill 66 will be studied in committee this fall.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and Kalina Laframboise
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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First Patient Cases with PURE EP System Conducted at Deborah Heart and Lung CenterWestport, CT, Oct. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BioSig Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSGM) (“BioSig” or the “Company”), a medical technology company developing a proprietary biomedical signal processing platform designed to improve signal fidelity and uncover the full range of ECG and intra-cardiac signals, today announced that the Company installed its PURE EP™ System and started conducting patient cases at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, New Jersey.PURE EP™ System evaluation and clinical data collection is being conducted under the leadership of Raffaele Corbisiero, M.D.“We are pleased to commence our clinical operations at Deborah Heart and Lung Center. As an innovative and rapidly growing company, we are excited to have physicians at Deborah not only utilize our technology, but also contribute to its advancement. Given COVID-19’s detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, this relationship cannot come at a more important time,” commented Kenneth L. Londoner, Chairman, and CEO of BioSig Technologies, Inc. “Intracardiac signals are the foundation of everything we do in EP, but we can’t treat what we don’t see. I am impressed by our early experience with PURE EP™ showing more of the cardiac signals we want to see,” commented Raffaele Corbisiero, M.D., Deborah Heart and Lung Center.BioSig is currently conducting patient cases under the clinical trial titled “Novel Cardiac Signal Processing System for Electrophysiology Procedures (PURE EP 2.0 Study)” at Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Research Foundation (TCARF) in Austin, Texas and Mayo Clinic Florida Campus in Jacksonville, Florida. The Company recently added Massachusets General Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to its clinical sites. About BioSig Technologies BioSig Technologies is a medical technology company commercializing a proprietary biomedical signal processing platform designed to improve signal fidelity and uncover the full range of ECG and intra-cardiac signals (www.biosig.com).The Company’s first product, PURE EP ™ System is a computerized system intended for acquiring, digitizing, amplifying, filtering, measuring and calculating, displaying, recording and storing of electrocardiographic and intracardiac signals for patients undergoing electrophysiology (EP) procedures in an EP laboratory.Forward-looking Statements This press release contains “forward-looking statements.” Such statements may be preceded by the words “intends,” “may,” “will,” “plans,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “projects,” “predicts,” “estimates,” “aims,” “believes,” “hopes,” “potential” or similar words. Forward- looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, are based on certain assumptions and are subject to various known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, and cannot be predicted or quantified and consequently, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties associated with (i) the geographic, social and economic impact of COVID-19 on our ability to conduct our business and raise capital in the future when needed, (ii) our inability to manufacture our products and product candidates on a commercial scale on our own, or in collaboration with third parties; (iii) difficulties in obtaining financing on commercially reasonable terms; (iv) changes in the size and nature of our competition; (v) loss of one or more key executives or scientists; and (vi) difficulties in securing regulatory approval to market our products and product candidates. More detailed information about the Company and the risk factors that may affect the realization of forward-looking statements is set forth in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. Investors and security holders are urged to read these documents free of charge on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov. The Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise its forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. CONTACT: Andrew Ballou BioSig Technologies, Inc. Vice President, Investor Relations 54 Wilton Road, 2nd floor Westport, CT 06880 firstname.lastname@example.org 203-409-5444, x133
U.S. economy posts record growth in Q3; COVID-19 scarring to last – The Guardian
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy grew at a historic pace in the third quarter as the government injected more than $3 trillion worth of pandemic relief which fueled consumer spending, but the deep scars from the COVID-19 recession could take a year or more to heal.
The 33.1% annualized growth rate reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday, the last major economic scorecard before next Tuesday’s presidential election, did not ease the human tragedy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions of Americans still unemployed and more than 222,000 dead.
The economy remains 3.5% below its level at the end of 2019 and incomes plunged in the third quarter. Nevertheless, with five days remaining to Election Day President Donald Trump, trailing in most national opinion polls, cheered the report.
“Biggest and Best in the History of our Country, and not even close,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd.”
Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden highlighted the lack of full recovery and the rapidly petering growth spurt.
“We are in a deep hole and President Trump’s failure to act has meant that third-quarter growth wasn’t nearly enough to get us out of (it),” said Biden. “The recovery that is happening is helping those at the top, but leaving tens of millions of working families and small businesses behind.”
According to Christopher Way, an associate professor of government at Cornell University, the report “will have absolutely zero effect on the election and it is economic performance in the first half of an election year that matters.”
The rebound in gross domestic product followed a 31.4% rate of contraction in the second quarter, the deepest since the government started keeping records in 1947. On a year-on-year basis GDP jumped 7.4% last quarter after sinking 9.0% in the April-June period. The rebound reversed about two-thirds of the 10.1% drop in GDP in the first half. By comparison, the economy contracted 4% peak to trough during the 2007-09 Great Recession.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP expanding at a 31% rate in the July-September quarter. The economy plunged into recession in February.
The government’s rescue package provided a lifeline for many businesses and the unemployed, juicing up consumer spending, which on its own contributed 76.3% to the surge in GDP.
But government funding has been depleted with no deal in sight for another round of relief. New COVID-19 cases are spiraling across the country, forcing restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars.
“We still don’t have the level of GDP surpassing the pre-COVID level until fourth-quarter 2021 and closing the output gap will take even more time,” said Kevin Cummins, chief U.S. economist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.
Foreshadowing a slowdown in consumer spending, personal income tumbled at a $540.6 billion rate in the third quarter after surging at a $1.45 trillion pace in the prior period. The drop was attributed to a decline in government transfers related to the pandemic relief programs.
Though savings remain high, the pace at which Americans are stashing away money is moderating. That, together with persistent layoffs and slowing employment growth could restrain consumer spending in the coming months.
Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices fell.
A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 40,000 to a seasonally adjusted 751,000 in the week ending Oct. 24. Including a government funded program, 1.1 million people sought unemployment benefits last week.
Though claims have dropped from a record 6.867 million in March, they remain above their 665,000 peak seen during the 2007-09 Great Recession. About 22.7 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits in early October, though many have exhausted their eligibility for state aid.
Just over half of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recouped.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, rebounded at a historic rate of 40.7% in the third quarter, driven by purchases of goods like motor vehicles, clothing and footwear. Americans also boosted spending on recreation, healthcare and dining out. But spending on services remained below its fourth quarter level.
Spending was boosted by billions of dollars in government transfers, including a $600 weekly unemployment subsidy and a one-off $1,200 check to households. Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are below a 5% rate.
“Without further stimulus, the winter may indeed be very painful,” said Jeff Madrick, senior fellow at The Century Foundation in New York.
The shift toward goods spending pulled in imports, resulting in a widening of the trade deficit. Some of the imports, however, ended up in warehouses. The accumulation of inventory offset the trade hit to GDP growth.
There was also a turnaround in business investment after the second-quarter drubbing, but the bounce could be temporary as demand for goods that do not complement life-style changes brought by COVID-19 remains weak. Boeing Co reported its fourth straight quarterly loss on Wednesday.
The pandemic has also crushed oil prices, weighing on spending on nonresidential structures like gas and oil well drilling. Business spending on nonresidential structures contracted for a fourth straight quarter.
Record low interest rates boosted housing. Government spending fell, pressured by cuts at state and local governments, whose finances have been squeezed by the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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