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Saskatchewan says economy is rebounding despite 12.5% unemployment rate –



The Saskatchewan government is feeling confident its economy is on the rebound.

This comes despite the unemployment rate being 12.5 per cent at the end of May, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey released Friday.

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.

Saskatchewan loses nearly 53K jobs from March to April: Statistics Canada

“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.

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“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.

Nearly 21K jobs lost in Saskatchewan in March due to COVID-19: Statistics Canada

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

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.

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“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.”

Coronavirus: Canada lost 1 million jobs in March

The province said businesses in Saskatchewan are faring better than other jurisdictions, claiming to have closed fewer than other provinces did.

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“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

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.

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“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.

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Covid-19 to 'Weigh Heavily' on Singapore's Economy, PM Lee Says – BNN



(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he’s determined to hand over Singapore “intact” and in “good working order” to the next generation of leaders, predicting the coronavirus crisis will “weigh heavily” on the nation’s economy for at least a year.

Speaking Monday ahead of general elections on Friday, Lee said it’s unclear how the pandemic will end, noting that Singapore’s “biggest challenges lie ahead of us.”

“We don’t know how the pandemic will end or whether a lasting solution will be found in a vaccine or more effective treatment,” Lee said in a virtual rally posted on the ruling People’s Action Party’s Facebook page. “We face a continuing danger to public health.”

Polling on Friday takes place against the backdrop of a pandemic that has infected nearly 45,000 people, mostly migrant workers living in tightly-spaced dormitories. The government’s response to the virus has played a prominent role in campaigns midway through the election cycle.

A “good government” is needed to curb the virus, support the economy and get the country out of the crisis intact, Lee said. “Our response will determine the future,” he added.

Singapore needs to attract new investments by maintaining business confidence so companies “will not lose faith in us in a crisis,” he said.

Lee has signaled his intention to hand over power to his successor — tipped to be Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat — by 2022. By then, he will be 70 years old.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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State grip on economy means foreign sanctions won't shift Chinese resolve: Don Pittis –



Last week, former prime minister Brian Mulroney urged that this country begin an “urgent rethink” on its relations with China.

A front-page story in the Globe and Mail on Canada Day declared that the former Progressive Conservative PM had backed off on his previous suggestion of sending a high-level business negotiating team to Beijing to resolve Canada-China differences. Instead, he advocated a firmer stance.

“There has to be an immediate and urgent rethink of our entire relationship,” Mulroney told the Globe. That included kicking Chinese telecom company Huawei off Canada’s 5G systems and staying close to the U.S.-led Five Eyes spy network.

But those who think taking a hard economic line on China — a country that is neck and neck with the biggest economy on Earth — will change its aggressive and anti-democratic outlook must understand Chinese exceptionalism.

Change from within

Instead, as many China scholars have told me in the past, change within China must come from the Chinese people — and not necessarily as represented by the Chinese Communist Party.

That may seem far-fetched to those watching Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong, its vicious police tactics backed by central government financial support to help keep the Chinese region’s business community sweet.

As the New York Times reported last week, “The business world has largely fallen in line behind China’s campaign to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.”, owner of this fresh food chain, raised $3.9 billion US in Hong Kong at the end of last month — one of many Chinese firms helping to keep the former colony’s economy healthy. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

While officials have offered moral and cash support for the former British colony, the most significant reason for the latest burst of business activity comes from a different source.

U.S. regulatory restrictions on Chinese firms and fear that the U.S. administration and Congress may impose financial penalties have made Hong Kong’s sophisticated marketplace a more-than-tolerable second choice to New York for raising cash.

As Walid Hejazi, an associate professor of international business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, suggested in the context of threatened U.S. trade restrictions, squeezing China out can have perverse effects.

“Given there is a trade war, it can push China into doing things that could really help it over the longer term in terms of diversifying itself into Asia, into other markets, but also developing its domestic economy,” Hejazi told me at the time.

Like the U.S. in an earlier stage in its own development, China may be on the verge of building a domestic economy so large, exports become of decreasing importance.

Unlikely impact

Even if Canada and the U.S. could do without China’s increasingly high-level technology, of which Huawei is only a single example, even if they could withstand a reduction in the Chinese market for their exports of food and resources, the Asian country’s increasing self-sufficiency means some sort of new economic cold war is unlikely to have the desired impact.

Even if, as some credible sources have suggested, Chinese economic data is fudged, there is no question that the country’s economy is huge and growing. Beijing is spending a fortune on the education of its billion-plus population. It seems serious about trying to bring its poorest into the wage economy.

Condemned by human rights groups for forced birth control for minorities and other abuses, nonetheless the power of a command economy gives it strategic advantages at this point in its evolution. Unlike the U.S. and Canada, it does not have to negotiate with wealthy taxpayers to create university places or make what it considers to be essential investments.

But while Beijing rejects attempts at outside coercion, developments in Hong Kong may reveal a path to domestic transformation.

People power

While Beijing’s strong-arm tactics can work on powerless Uighurs, Hong Kong may be a Chinese microcosm of what can happen when an authoritarian government runs out of legitimacy with informed and educated citizens who do not want to be imposed upon.

People who think of South Korea and Taiwan as healthy pluralistic democracies may not realize that in my lifetime, both were run by nasty militarist — anti-communist in those cases — dictatorships. The running street battles between police and students before the removal of South Korea’s Park Chung-hee are legendary.

WATCH | Nathan Law flees Hong Kong:

‘I think the future’s grim,’ Law said, but noted he will continue to voice Hong Kongers’ demands for democracy. 2:09

Even as Hong Kong becomes more like China, the former colony may have inoculated the entire country with a taste for self-government and some ideas on how to get it. By alienating so many Hong Kongers, China has wasted an opportunity.

Now, the self-exile of Hong Kong democracy leader Nathan Law harks back to earlier times, when Russian anti-government leader Vladimir Lenin retreated to England and Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh hid out in France.

Without even trying, places where you are allowed to think and say just about what you like create a refuge for dissent. Canada’s suspension of extradition rules is a sign that Hong Kong has strayed too far from that ideal.

Canada need not give up on China as a place where pluralism and democracy will one day help its people rule themselves.

In years gone by, North American economic sanctions may have had the clout to pressure even large countries into adjusting their policies. It is implausible to think that China, with an economy that the IMF says is still growing — while Canada, the U.S. and Europe will shrink about eight per cent this year — will be pressured.

That will be the job of its own people.

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

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Virus crisis expected to 'level down' UK economy – BBC News



The coronavirus crisis could “level down” the UK economy with London and the South East expected to bounce back more quickly than Hull and Bradford.

Industries such as finance and construction will be worst hit by the pandemic, a report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has warned.

Initially, that means London and the South East will be worst affected.

However, other areas face a more painful recovery from the impact of the virus, the centrist think tank said.

The BBC has approached the government for comment.

The worst-affected areas in the short-term:

  • Camden and City of London
  • Kingston, Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Lambeth
  • East Lancashire
  • Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames
  • Ealing
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Westminster
  • Swindon
  • West Essex

“After the financial crisis, London recovered quickly because of a concentration of jobs in banking and insurance,” the report said.

“Whilst these jobs will face the biggest initial blow from coronavirus, evidence suggests the capital is more economically resilient and the labour market will recover quicker than the rest of the country.”

But that is not the case in areas where unemployment rates were above the UK’s average of 3.8% last year, according to the SMF.

It said those areas, which include Manchester and Peterborough, face the slowest recovery.

The areas that will find it hardest to bounce back:

  • Hull
  • Bradford
  • Walsall
  • Manchester
  • Peterborough
  • Lambeth
  • Thurrock
  • Brent
  • Redbridge and Waltham Forest
  • Sandwell

“Policy makers need to recognise that national or even regional data can conceal the local realities of this recession and should not rely on it when making important decisions for the recovery from coronavirus,” said Amy Norman from the SMF.

“The economic severity of coronavirus will be felt across many places, but we must remember that this recession does not occur in isolation,” she said.

“Many people and places outside of the capital will be particularly vulnerable due to the lasting hardships of the past decade.”

The report also found that young people were more vulnerable to the economic impacts of the virus crisis.

It said people between the ages of 20 and 24 were least likely to work in sectors like education, health or public administration, which have seen fewer people furloughed or made redundant.

“Young people’s jobs are most at risk, but a quarter of older workers also face job instability,” Ms Norman said.

“Politicians have announced the guaranteed youth opportunity but are light on support for those in older categories who will find themselves out of work.”

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