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Saskatchewan's economy was already shrinking before COVID – Regina Leader-Post



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New data from Statistics Canada suggests Saskatchewan was already in a “mild recession” last year, even before COVID-19 and the latest oil shock began pummelling the province.

Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of total economic output, shrunk from $82.2 billion in 2018 to $81.5 billion 2019 after factoring in inflation. That’s a decrease of 0.8 per cent, the worst number of all the provinces. The only other province to see its economy shrink last year was Alberta, which faced a contraction of 0.6 per cent.

Joel Bruneau, head of the economics department at the University of Saskatchewan, said the new data shows the province wasn’t even managing to tread water before COVID hit.

“We’ve averaged negative growth over four quarters, so I would call it a mild recession,” he said.

The data shows that most of the hit to Saskatchewan in 2019 came from goods-producing industries, rather than the service sector. Industrial production was down, as was mining and quarrying, while the energy sector was basically flat.

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Rethinking the boundaries between economic life and coronavirus death –



Carolyn Prouse, Queen’s University, Ontario; Beverley Mullings, Queen’s University, Ontario; Dairon Luis Morejon Perez, Queen’s University, Ontario, and Shannon Clarke, Queen’s University, Ontario

As governments around the world begin to reopen their borders, it’s clear that efforts to revive the economy are redrawing the lines between who will prosper, who will suffer and who will die.

Emerging strategies for restoring economic growth are forcing vulnerable populations to choose between increased exposure to death or economic survival. This is an unacceptable choice that appears natural only because it prioritizes the economy over people already considered marginal or expendable.

The management of borders has always been central to capitalist economic growth, and has only intensified with neoliberal reforms of the last several decades. Neoliberal economic growth has increasingly become tied to opening up national borders to the flow of money and the selective entry of low-wage labour with limited access to rights.

Read more: What exactly is neoliberalism?

Nation-state borders regulate this flow, and in so doing, reconstitute the borders between people: those whose lives must be safeguarded and those who are considered disposable.

COVID-19 has brought heightened visibility to these border-making practices, with the pandemic intensifying the decisions between economic and social life.

A migrant worker from Mexico is shown in downtown Leamington on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Exceptions made for seasonal workers

Early in the outbreak, for instance, Canada closed its borders to international travel, but made exceptions for an estimated 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Anxious to avert the potential loss of as much as 95 per cent of this year’s vegetable and fruit production, temporary farm workers were deemed the essential backbone of the agri-food economy. For the health and safety of Canadians and seasonal farm workers, farmers required the farm workers to self-isolate for 14 days in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

But the deaths of two farm workers in Windsor, Ont., and serious outbreaks of COVID-19 infections among migrant workers on farms across the country, have revealed systemic forms of racism that reveal the priority given to profit maximization over the health and safety of Black and brown migrant farmers.

Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, migrant farmers are not entitled to standard labour rights such as a minimum wage, overtime pay or days off, and federal oversight over housing conditions has been notoriously inadequate.

With worker welfare left largely to the discretion of employers, it is not altogether surprising that reports of crowded and unsanitary housing, an inability to socially distance, delays in responding to COVID-19 symptoms and threats of reprisals for speaking out have become rife throughout the agri-food economy. Even as COVID-19 cases soar in Ontario, provincial guidelines make it possible for infected farm workers to continue working if they are asymptomatic.

It is a tragic irony that the quest for a better life among migrant workers should be one that demands levels of exposure to abuse, threats, infection and premature death that few citizens are likely to face.

Traffic is loaded onto the MV Confederation on Friday morning at the Wood Islands, P.E.I., ferry terminal. Plenty of people were taking advantage of day one the Atlantic bubble. - Dave Stewart/The Guardian
Traffic is loaded onto the MV Confederation on Friday morning at the Wood Islands, P.E.I., ferry terminal. Plenty of people were taking advantage of Day 1 the Atlantic bubble. – Dave Stewart/The Guardian

Choosing between health and the economy

Now, as governments speak of opening borders more widely due to the economic costs of COVID-19, countries are beginning to make new, challenging decisions between public health and economic growth.

For example, across the Caribbean, the abrupt closure of international borders decimated the region’s tourism industry overnight. Estimating a contraction of the industry of up to 70 per cent, Standard & Poor has already predicted that some islands will experience significantly deteriorated credit ratings.

For example, with tourism accounting for half of Jamaica’s foreign exchange earnings and more than 350,000 jobs, it is not entirely surprising that the tourism minister has justified re-opening as “not just about tourism. It is a matter of economic life or death.” It’s also not surprising that resort chains like Sandals and airlines alike have been eager to resume business as usual.

But assurances that “vacations are back,” even as new cases emerge, ring hollow given that most Caribbean countries have long struggled with overburdened health-care systems. And even with new protocols for screening, isolating or restricting the mobility of infected visitors, it is likely that the region’s poorer citizens — many of whom are women in front-line hospitality services — will bear the brunt of the costs of new infections.

Unequal dependencies

The dependence of Caribbean and Latin American governments on tourism and remittance dollars, and Canada’s dependence on Black and brown people to carry out low-paid essential work, are unequal dependencies that are intimately tied. For the most vulnerable, these dependencies mark the stark overlap between economic life and COVID-19 death.

Yet COVID-19 has also presented us with a unique opportunity to rethink the border inequalities that have governed our lives and the primacy of the economy within it.

It forces us to ask: Who does “the economy” serve? What types of activities are valued or dismissed when we prioritize economic growth? Whose life is valued, and whose continues to be expendable?

Prioritizing the economy over the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable should never be an acceptable fix.

This is a collaborative article written by members of the Global Economies and Everyday Lives Lab at Queen’s University, Canada. Nathalia Ocasio Santos, Grace Adeniyi Ogunyankin, Priscilla Apronti, Hilal Kara and Tesfa Peterson co-authored this piece.

The Conversation
The Conversation

Carolyn Prouse, Assistant Professor of Human Geography, Queen’s University, Ontario; Beverley Mullings, Professor of Geography, Queen’s University, Ontario; Dairon Luis Morejon Perez, Phd Student in Geography and Urban Planning, Queen’s University, Ontario, and Shannon Clarke, PhD Student in Geography, Queen’s University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Ukraine economy likely fell 10% in second quarter, full recovery not seen this year: Reuters poll – The Guardian



By Natalia Zinets

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s economy will be shown to have fallen 10% in the second quarter year-on-year due to restrictions to tame the coronavirus outbreak, and it will not be able to recover fully in the next six months, according to a Reuters monthly poll of analysts.

It would mark the deepest decline since the economic aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of military conflict in the industrial east, which led to a 14.5% year-on-year fall in the second quarter of 2015.

“Economic activity figures are likely to reveal the full extent of the crisis; we expect the decline to deepen to 10% year-on-year in the second quarter,” analysts for the ICU investment company said in written comments.

Ukraine has secured a $5 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund to fight the economic slump, but the market was rattled last week by the shock resignation of the central bank governor.

A robust performance in the farming sector, which has started the grain harvest, may offset some of the damage to the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, but consumer demand and investor activity will remain weak in 2020, analysts said.

They forecast Ukraine’s gross domestic product to shrink 5.5% year-on-year in the third quarter and 3.0% in the fourth quarter.

The State Statistics Service will publish its second-quarter GDP data in mid-August. In the first quarter, the economy declined by 1.3% compared to 2.9% growth in the first quarter last year.

The twelve analysts polled by Reuters see the economy shrinking 6.5% for the full year compared to growth of 3.2% in 2019. The government expects a -4.8% drop in 2020.

“We project GDP to start recovering from 3Q20, but at a slow pace due to lower incomes and precautionary behaviour of consumers and investors,” the ICU said.

The government began imposing restrictions on businesses and people’s movement in March. It began easing those restrictions in May, allowing the operations of public transport, shops, hotels and open-air terraces of restaurants to resume.

But a sharp daily rise of new cases since then has prevented the government from relaxing more restrictions. Ukraine has reported 49,043 coronavirus cases, including 1,262 deaths.

(Editing by Matthias Williams)

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The economy may be opening up – what about your wallet? –




This was supposed to be the year my boyfriend and I got our finances on track. We had made a pact that we’d keep each other accountable so by the time we get married next year, we’d have our debts paid off. We started out doing OK until I had to fly home in March because my dad’s health took a turn for the worse. While I was away the borders closed and by the time I got back, my job was gone. My boyfriend kept working and thankfully could cover our bills because he was spending so much less during the lockdown. I’ve recently found a new job and we’ve been able to stick with spending less on almost everything. It’s a good feeling getting back in control of our money. We’re worried, though, that we’ll go back to spending the way we used to as our life becomes more normal. What can we do? ~Anna


There are a lot of things many of us learned during the pandemic about our money habits. For those whose incomes stayed mostly the same, many found extra opportunities to save, or even help those who needed additional support. If your income was drastically reduced, you likely learned what you wanted to change about your money habits once you were back on your feet. And for people who managed to mostly get by with government income and support programs, they realized what their essential expenses truly were. A common theme throughout this time, however, was that many of us developed new money habits that would be worth maintaining over the coming months and years.

The trick will be finding ways to keep up with our new habits and not fall back into old traps. As you start spending again, be conscious of some of the money traps that could have been inadvertently keeping you in debt. Once you know what to watch for, it will be easier to steer yourself toward success.

Here are four money habits that don’t always look like traps, but can wreak havoc on your bank account and cause big bills:

1. Giving in to retail therapy

As the economy recovers and you want to return to your more normal life, it will be very tempting to restart your spending. Retailers will promote enticing offers and it will be hard to escape the thought that you might be missing out on a really great deal. However,

resist the urge to give in to retail therapy

, both in person and online.

To motivate yourself for long-term success with your financial goals, incorporate a little of what you really want into your budget. If you’re also

paying off debt

, you might need to start with small wants. This is easier to do right now with our choices for spending still somewhat restricted. For instance, the vacation of your dreams likely isn’t possible right now, so start by budgeting for a holiday you



As you pay your debts off, there’s more room in your budget to afford more of the things you really want. To help yourself stay motivated, reward yourself a little along the way. Then before you know it, you’ll be debt free and on to choices in line with goals for a financially stable future.

2. Committing to long-term contracts when life is in transition

When your circumstances are in the midst of change, that is not the time to make long-term commitments. Transition times in life can happen when we least expect them, and COVID-19 has brought on some of the most significant changes many people will ever face.

There are certain times, however, when we can expect change, and not all changes are bad. When we’re between jobs, moving homes, starting a family or going back to school, these can be exciting times of change — but excitement and stress can tempt us to create order and settle ourselves into a routine with a new fitness membership, leased vehicle or cellphone contract, for instance.

Given that we face many unanticipated changes in our lives, read the fine print when making a long-term financial commitment. Know what it would cost to break a contract and weigh your options. Sometimes a slightly higher month-to-month arrangement or a loan versus a lease gets you ahead in the long run.

3. Participating in expensive hobbies

Do you have hobbies you really enjoy? Maybe they’re a social outlet, provide you with exercise and a way to de-stress, or they could be a creative outlet. Sometimes we have family hobbies that involve costly equipment, travel, or come with accommodation expenses. The money we spend on hobbies has likely been left in our bank account or spent on other essentials during the pandemic, so now is a great time to consider options and see if there’s a cheaper way to go. For example:

● Instead of a gym membership, maybe you can get your exercise outdoors or virtually from home.

● If your kids normally participate in a variety of activities, consider what they missed most during the lockdown and only spend on those lessons or classes.

● Could you rent what you need for recreation, e.g., a truck, trailer, boat, jet skis or snowmobiles, rather than make payments on vehicles and pay for their storage, upkeep and insurance?

While hobbies might feel like a necessity, we usually have flexibility in how we do them. Evaluate your choices with your goals in mind and calculator in hand. With a period of time behind us where our normal activities were put on hold, it’s easier to only go back to what we genuinely enjoyed and now want to spend money on.

How to Decide If You Can Afford Another Payment or Not

4. Paying off debt too fast

You might be tempted to

pay off your debts as fast

as possible, but paying them off too fast could keep you broke. It makes sense to pay off debt, especially high-interest credit card debt. However, spending on debt payments without setting money aside for emergencies means that when something unexpected happens, you need to reach for credit to pay for it. One big car repair bill could wipe out months of extra payments to your credit cards in one swipe.

Why Savings Is a Superpower

Rather than aggressively paying off your car loan, for instance, a wiser strategy is to pay it off as quickly as you reasonably can within a balanced approach; let your budget be your guide.

Balance might include

accelerated payments

, e.g., biweekly rather than monthly. It might mean making small top-ups to payments, even accelerated ones, by decreasing discretionary spending. For instance, you might reduce how often you eat out to come up with an extra $20 or $50 biweekly that can be paid toward your debts. Or it could mean using lump sums of money, e.g., part of a tax refund or bonus from work, to make periodic payments against the principal. Check with your lender to see what your options are, but car loans generally allow extra payments at any time.

Preparation is the key to success

Have you ever heard that preparation is the secret to success? Think of a diet — if you’ve ever been on one, when hunger hits and you’ve got nothing ready to eat, that’s when you’re most likely to cheat. The same is true for your money. When an urge to spend hits or an emergency expense needs to be paid for, if you don’t have a plan for where the money will come from, you’re likely to grab whatever is available. With unexpected expenses, it’s unfortunately usually a credit card. Relying on credit to make ends meet rather than on your own savings is a money trap that will keep you broke.

The way to escape this cycle of debt is to spend less on day-to-day expenses than you earn, and the pandemic has shown many of us how we can do that. If you’re not sure how much to set aside, start with whatever you can afford.

Draw up a budget

to firm up your numbers and then set aside money according to your plan.

Then utilize

strategies that make saving easier

. For instance, you can set up automatic transfers through your online banking on payday to stash away a predetermined amount of cash before you get a chance to spend it. Out of sight, out of mind. Ensure that you have a separate savings account or two set up to hold onto your savings. If you leave it in your chequing account, it’s bound to disappear. To

keep your saved money safe from yourself

, ask your financial institution to remove the savings accounts from your debit card.

The bottom line on sticking with good money habits

If how you’ve been managing your money until now has kept you broke and hasn’t helped you reach your goals, try something new. Question each purchase you make. Comb through your household bills to ensure they meet your needs and that you’re getting good value for what you’re spending. Switch up your routine to continually force yourself to do things differently. Improve your money skills and knowledge of personal finances by reading blogs, books or asking qualified professionals. Then, instead of trying to figure out how to make ends meet, stick with what might be the most valuable outcome of the pandemic: work towards having fewer ends.

Related reading:

Clean Up and Declutter Your Finances

A Simple Way to Keep Track of Your Money

8 Common Money Mistakes That Can Keep You Broke

Scott Hannah is president of the Credit Counselling Society, a non-profit organization. For more information about managing your money or debt, contact Scott by


, check

or call 1-888-527-8999.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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