More than 500 days after New Brunswick’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, the province enters the green phase of recovery Saturday, without any Public Health restrictions.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has warned cases will increase, but because of vaccination rates, she expects they will be less serious and result in few hospitalizations.
A total of 66.7 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and 82 per cent had at least one dose, as of Friday.
More than a million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford have been administered.
A year-and-a-half ago, health experts predicted it might take until now just to develop a vaccine.
New Brunswick officials anxiously watched as COVID-19 swept across other parts of the globe, with emergency rooms over capacity and under-equipped, death rates rising and lockdowns increasingly commonplace.
They said it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus reached the province.
But students and teachers from several New Brunswick high schools were about to leave for week-long trips to Europe, including Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries. Hundreds of families were also about to go to Florida, among other destinations, for March break.
The government acted swiftly, ordering those returning from international travel not to attend school for two weeks, but the virus did indeed find its way into the province.
It has infected 2,365 people, claimed the lives of 46, many of whom died alone because of COVID restrictions, and the livelihoods of thousands.
It has shut down borders, kept families separated, and seniors in long-term care homes isolated, longing for human touch.
Saturday marks a new chapter. The emergency mandatory order has ended and all restrictions are lifted, including mandatory masks, gathering limits and provincial border checks for travellers within Canada.
Here is a look back at some of the key events along the province’s winding and sometimes bumpy pandemic journey:
March 11, 2020: First presumptive case
Public Health announces the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. It is also the first case in Atlantic Canada.
The woman in her 50s, who has returned from France, was “minimally symptomatic” and self-isolating.
The news comes just hours after the World Health Organization deems the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, infecting more than 100,000 people in more than 100 countries.
March 12, 2020: First case confirmed
The national laboratory in Winnipeg confirms the presumptive case, which was considered “probable,” is positive.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell won’t say which part of France the woman was travelling from or what airports she travelled through, citing privacy. She says she doesn’t know how many people came into contact with the woman, but those who have been traced are in self-isolation.
Russell recommends people avoid mass gatherings because they can increase the spread and create additional strain on the health-care system.
Premier Blaine Higgs announces an all-party cabinet committee will help manage the outbreak.
Toilet paper starts to become scarce because some people begin stockpiling in a panic.
Princess Cruises, one of the main cruise lines with ships scheduled to visit Saint John, announces it will suspend its global operations for 60 days after passengers on two of its ships — Diamond Princess and Grand Princess — become infected, both abroad and in North America.
March 13, 2020: Schools closed
Late on a Friday, Premier Blaine Higgs announces all public schools will close for two weeks, possibly longer, to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier in the week, Ontario and Quebec also closed public schools.
Universities and community colleges also close.
The closure will not affect daycares, which Higgs says are an essential service. (Three days later, they too are ordered to close, along with a long list of public places, including arenas and theatres.)
The province’s Tele-Care 811 line is “pretty much jam-packed” with people calling about their health, officials say.
March 19, 2020: State of emergency declared
Premier Blaine Higgs declares a state of emergency, giving the government broad powers to enforce business closures and Public Health measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“These are unprecedented actions, but these are necessary as we are in unprecedented times,” Higgs tells reporters, as the number of confirmed cases jumps to seven, and probable cases stand at four, with no hospitalizations.
Too many people are not following Public Health advice to stay home if possible and to maintain a social distance of six feet, or about two metres, he says.
“Before this was a recommendation, today it’s a requirement.”
All businesses are ordered to close, except those deemed essential, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, repair garages and automotive parts stores, post offices, convenience stores, hardware stores, animal and fish feed providers, NB Liquor and Cannabis NB. Restaurants can remain open as takeouts.
Asked if it’s possible someone could go to jail for disobeying, Higgs says the declaration does provide authorities with such powers. “But that is not our intent. Nor do we hope that we get there.”
Air Canada reduces flights into New Brunswick until April 30.
March 25, 2020: Border checkpoints announced
New Brunswick sets up screening checkpoints at the Quebec, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. borders as the provincial case count jumps to 26.
“Unnecessary travel is no longer permitted,” says Premier Blaine Higgs, citing non-residents entering the province to socialize or shop.
Anyone allowed in must self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who doesn’t comply is to receive a warning, followed by a fine of up to $10,000.
New Brunswick could be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for another 18 to 24 months before a vaccine or other treatments are available, says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Health-care students and retirees offer help to combat the spread of the virus.
April 2, 2020: Schools to remain closed
Education Minister Dominic Cardy announces public schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year and lays out a plan for students to spend from one to 2½ hours a day working at home on material to be available online.
The province could run out of testing supplies within one week with ramped-up testing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) within three to four weeks, Premier Blaine Higgs says. The global competition for scarce supplies is “very concerning.”
Higgs has already called on the federal government to declare a national state of emergency, saying Canada needs a consistent, national approach to stop the spread of the virus.
April 6, 2020: COVID task force created
Premier Blaine Higgs announces a four-person task force to oversee the health-care system’s response to the pandemic.
The task force’s decision-making authority over all aspects of the system, including health authorities, ambulances, extramural care, special care homes and nursing homes, will allow the government to move more quickly, he says.
Ted Flemming, the health minister at the time, compares the approach to a military structure required to act quickly in a war.
The move comes after it took two weeks to get the required sign-offs from 23 different officials across the health-care system to change a protocol.
April 9, 2020: Up to 1,750 deaths predicted
Provincial projections suggest COVID-19 could kill 550 to 1,750 New Brunswickers over the next 18 to 24 months, until a vaccine is available, depending on compliance with Public Health measures.
“To put those numbers in perspective, 1,800 New Brunswickers died in the Second World War,” Premier Blaine Higgs tells reporters during the daily COVID briefing in Fredericton.
Had the government taken no action, such as closing schools and non-essential businesses, as many as 5,600 New Brunswickers could have died during the pandemic, says Ted Flemming, the health minister.
The province has 111 active cases of COVID-19, with five people in hospital, including four in intensive care.
April 24, 2020: 4-phase recovery plan begins
Premier Blaine Higgs announces the “hard work” of New Brunswickers to follow Public Health measures to flatten the COVID-19 curve has allowed the province to take the first step toward recovery.
A four-phase recovery plan begins immediately with allowing one household to bubble with another, modelled after success in New Zealand.
“Welcome to the new normal,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, says of the first phase, which also includes reopening businesses, educational facilities, the health-care system, recreational activities, and cultural events.
It comes as New Brunswick marks its sixth straight day with no new cases of COVID-19. There are 11 active cases, including four people in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care
The goal of the first phase is to balance the reopening of social and economic settings while preventing a major resurgence of transmission, Higgs says.
There won’t be any concerts or festivals for at least the rest of the year, he says, and bars and organized sports may not be able to start up again until a vaccine is available, which could take 12 to 18 months.
April 28, 2020: Foreign temporary workers banned
Premier Blaine Higgs announces foreign temporary workers will be banned from entering the province to work on farms or in fish plants.
“Right now the risk of allowing more people to enter the province is simply too great,” he says.
Although Higgs pledges to work with producers to shift some of the 1,500 foreign workers already in the province to fill gaps, Murray Tweedie, owner of M & S Wild Blueberry Farms, says he could face closure.
Twenty-four workers are due to arrive from Jamaica on May 4 to help prepare his fields for pollination by 700 hives of bees coming from Michigan nine days later.
Federal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc says the Trudeau government disagrees with the decision because COVID-19 has already brought enough economic uncertainty in the agricultural and seafood sectors.
May 8, 2020: Orange phase of recovery begins
New Brunswick has entered the orange alert phase of recovery. Here are the measures that are now in effect. For more information please visit <a href=”https://t.co/PdhJJAI1B9″>https://t.co/PdhJJAI1B9</a><a href=”https://t.co/aqU30aNBXL”>https://t.co/aqU30aNBXL</a> <a href=”https://t.co/ZvvyJRFDEK”>pic.twitter.com/ZvvyJRFDEK</a>
The closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 has devastated the economy and forced businesses to close temporarily.
New Brunswick’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 4.4 percentage points from March to April, after the province lost 27,900 full-time jobs and 6,400 part-time jobs.
The new phase, the orange phase, allows thousands of non-essential businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants, museums, libraries and campgrounds to welcome back patrons, but they must develop an operational plan to meet Public Health measures. These include physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, screening for symptoms, cleaning and disinfecting practices, signage, facial coverings and enforcement.
Inspectors from Public Health, WorkSafeNB and the Department of Public Safety will be visiting workplaces.
A mask is required in public when one cannot maintain a distance of two metres, and workplaces can require the public to wear a mask to gain entry.
May 21, 2020: Surplus turns to deficit
The Department of Finance says it’s now projecting a $299.2-million deficit for 2020-21, rather than the $92.4-million surplus announced when the budget was presented to the legislature March 10.
“The impacts of the pandemic are only beginning to be understood, and it will take more time to fully comprehend the effects on our economy and our finances,” Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says.
Earlier, the Royal Bank of Canada estimated New Brunswick was headed for a $600-million deficit based on the trajectory of the economy, and the Bank of Nova Scotia suggested the budget shortfall would reach $1.19 billion.
May 22, 2020: Yellow phase begins in stages
New Brunswick moves into phase three of its COVID-19 recovery plan, the yellow phase, but it will take several weeks to implement.
Among the immediate changes, New Brunswickers can extend their two-household bubbles to include other family and friends, with physical distancing and a 10-person limit recommended for indoor gatherings.
Barbers and hairstylists also reopen, allowing many people to get their first haircut in months.
Premier Blaine Higgs announces foreign temporary workers will be allowed back in, starting May 29.
“We are still prioritizing the safety of New Brunswickers but as we restart our economy, we have to find the ways to meet the needs of agriculture and seafood sectors.”.
May 27, 2020: ‘Irresponsible’ medical professional blamed for outbreak
Premier Blaine Higgs blames an “irresponsible” medical professional for two other confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region, Zone 5, and forcing that northern part of the province back into the more restrictive orange phase of recovery.
The medical professional in their 50s travelled to Quebec for “personal reasons, was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick and they did not self-isolate as a result,” Higgs says.
The person then treated patients for two weeks at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and possibly other locations.
The hospital’s emergency department was forced to close for 24 hours and all non-urgent or elective health-care services were cancelled “due to the high risk of transmission of COVID-19,” the Vitalité Health Network says.
The other two cases include a person in their 90s and a child who attended two daycares.
Mobile testing is to be set up and everyone in the region is encouraged to get tested.
After two weeks with no active cases in the province, the region is at a higher risk “due to the actions of one irresponsible individual,” Higgs says. “If you ignore the rules, you put your family, your friends and your fellow New Brunswickers at risk.”
June 2, 2020: Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola breaks silence
Premier Blaine Higgs never publicly identifies the medical professional who travelled to Quebec, but Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola, a family physician, is quickly named on social media and his photo circulated.
On June 2, Ngola confirms in an interview with Radio-Canada‘s La Matinale, his first since being labelled by some as “patient zero” in the resurgence of cases, that he was the doctor.
He says he drove overnight to Montreal to pick up his four-year-old daughter because her mother had gone to Africa for a funeral. He returned to work at the hospital the next day without self-isolating for 14 days.
“Maybe it was an error in judgment,” he says, pointing out that workers, including nurses who live in Quebec, cross the border each day with no isolation period required.
Ngola, who is from Congo, faces racist threats, is suspended by the Vitalité Health Network, and criminally investigated by the RCMP.
June 4, 2020: First COVID-related death, restrictions eased
COVID-19 claims its first New Brunswick victim. Daniel Ouellette, 84, was a resident at the Manoir de la Vallée, a long-term care home in Atholville.
“He couldn’t beat it. He tried, but it’s a difficult disease,” says his son Michel Ouellette.
On May 29, the care home asked if they could test his father, along with other residents and staff. Two days later, a doctor called saying his father was COVID-positive, unconscious and being transported to the Campbellton Regional Hospital.
It was difficult for the family not to be able to say good-bye to him because of COVID restrictions. “That we couldn’t go see him … comfort him, hold his hand … I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Ouellette said in French.
The 15 active cases in the province include five residents of the Manoir and four employees.
Officials link the outbreak to a medical professional travelling to Quebec and returning to work without self-isolating.
More than 300 people are self-isolating as a result of contact tracing, including six health-care workers.
A record 4,293 people were tested over three days — more than 10 per cent of the population of Zone 5. None tested positive.
The premier announces plans to open the borders to Canadians with immediate family in the province or who own property, starting June 19, provided they self-isolate for 14 days.
Cabinet and the all-party COVID-19 committee also deem attending funerals and burials for an immediate family member in New Brunswick essential travel.
Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people in private homes will be permitted everywhere but the Campbellton region. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50, and religious services, wedding and funerals of up to 50 will also be permitted with physical distancing.
Residents in long-term care homes will be allowed to have up to two visitors outdoors.
Elective surgeries and other non-emergency services will increase, and low-contact team sports will be permitted.
Dr. Jennifer Russell says the “unintended consequences” of isolation during the pandemic include damage to mental health, income and the timely access to medical treatment.
June 5, 2020: Masks mandatory to enter public buildings
New Brunswickers must wear a face covering to enter buildings open to the general public, starting June 9, the province announces.
“Once inside the building and if you are able to maintain physical distancing of two metres, the mask can be removed,” the government clarifies nearly four hours after the announcement.
Previously, face coverings were required only in locations where maintaining a physical distance of two metres, was not possible.
June 6, 2020: Province reverses mandatory mask order
Just one day after making masks mandatory to enter public buildings, the province scraps the new rule.
“It was not the intent to place an additional expectation on businesses or the public regarding wearing a face covering in a public space,” it says.
People do have to wear masks if they are in a public space where social distancing cannot be maintained.
July 3, 2020: Atlantic bubble begins
The Atlantic bubble opens, allowing residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador to travel in the region for any reason with no need to self-isolate for 14 days.
There are many smiling faces at the Aulac checkpoint, excited to be travelling to New Brunswick and be reunited with family and friends.
With hundreds of vehicles waiting to cross, the delays are frustrating for some.
Aug. 10, 2020: Proposal to delay provincial election
BREAKING: in letter to Liberal leader Kevin Vickers, Higgs asks for agreement on no election until 2022 or official end of pandemic; deal would involve formalization of all-party committee & policy input from all parties. <a href=”https://t.co/3tRtCNL6oS”>pic.twitter.com/3tRtCNL6oS</a>
Premier Blaine Higgs asks the three opposition party leaders to agree to a deal that would avoid forcing an early provincial election. He pledges to listen to their policy ideas if they agree to keep his Progressive Conservatives in power until the scheduled election in October 2022 or until the pandemic is over.
Aug. 14, 2020: Liberals reject election deal
The Opposition Liberals pull out of negotiations to delay a provincial election.
Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers says Premier Blaine Higgs wants unlimited powers for two years while insisting that other parties sign on for major reforms.
Higgs says he will take the weekend to think about next steps.
Aug. 17, 2020: Higgs calls election for Sept. 14, doctor faces charge
Premier Blaine Higgs calls a provincial election for Sept. 14, despite the COVID-19 outbreak — the first to be held in Canada during the pandemic.
The doctor accused of being at the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton region in May faces a charge under the provincial Emergency Measures Act. Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola is issued an appearance notice for allegedly failing to quarantine when he returned from Quebec.
Ngola’s trip was the week of May 10. The COVID-19 outbreak began May 21. A total of 41 people in the Campbellton region became infected, and two of them, who were in their 80s, died.
Oct. 8, 2020: Masks mandatory, regardless of distancing
Masks will be mandatory in most indoor public spaces in New Brunswick, regardless of whether physical distancing can be maintained, as of midnight, Premier Blaine Higgs announces.
Only children under age two and people with a valid medical excuse are exempt.
Higgs says he had hoped the majority of people would “do the right thing” to protect the people around them after he raised the mandatory mask issue last week.
But enforcement officers surveying public spaces across the province have found the average number of people wearing a mask is 36 per cent. In major urban centres, the number is as low as 16 per cent.
Nov. 23, 2020: Atlantic bubble bursts
The Atlantic bubble bursts when P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador announce they are withdrawing for at least two weeks because of rising case counts in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
New Brunswick reports 15 new cases and another death, the province’s seventh.
Dec. 15, 2020: 1st shipment of COVID vaccines arrives
The 1,950 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are in a white carton packed with dry ice to keep the vaccine near minus 80 degrees.
The valuable cargo is driven to the Miramichi Regional Hospital, where the province’s first vaccination clinics will take place.
The vaccines arrive 279 days after New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19 case. More than 550 other people have tested positive for the respiratory virus. Eight people have died.
Dec. 19, 2020: 1st New Brunswicker receives vaccine
Pauline Gauvin, 84, of Miramichi, becomes the first New Brunswicker to get immunized against COVID-19. She says it was a piece of cake.
Everyone getting a dose from the first shipment is from a high-priority group, which includes long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers and seniors 85 or older.
The province’s strategy is to vaccinate New Brunswickers from the oldest to the youngest.
Jan. 17, 2021: Record daily high of cases
New Brunswick reports 36 new infections, the highest number of cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
Many of the cases identified are at the Nadeau Poultry plant in Haut-Madawaska, west of Edmundston.
Jan. 22, 2021: Edmundston region lockdown
The Edmundston region, Zone 4, will go into full lockdown Jan. 23 at midnight, amid climbing case numbers and a series of outbreaks, the chief medical officer of health announces.
The evolution of the pandemic in the region is “extremely worrying,” says Dr. Jennifer Russell, with the highest active case count in the province at 129 and cases reported in schools, workplaces and residences for the elderly.
“At the current rate, that number will exceed 200 active cases early next week and potentially 400 active cases before the month is over,” she said.
Businesses are told to close or reduce operations to essential activities. Residents are told to stay home and keep to their one-household bubbles.
The next day, Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton are also bumped back to the most restrictive red COVID alert level.
New Brunswick has now recorded 1,087 confirmed COVID cases and 13 people have died.
Feb. 2, 2021: Variant first reported in U.K. detected
The dreaded COVID-19 variants arrive in New Brunswick. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, confirms three cases of the variant first reported in the U.K., now referred to as the alpha variant. Two are in the Saint John region, one in the Miramichi region.
Two of the cases are related to international travel and one is related to travel in Canada. All three individuals are self-isolating.
“It is a very fast-moving strain, it infects quickly and in higher numbers, and it will be difficult to get ahead of it,” Russell says.
April 26, 2021: Variant first recorded in India confirmed
A case of COVID-19 previously reported in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, is confirmed as the more aggressive variant first recorded in India, now known as the delta variant.
All variants of concern are highly contagious, cause more severe symptoms, require more people to be hospitalized, result in more ICU admissions and ventilation, and cause more deaths.
But this variant has two mutations that make it “more concerning than all the others,” says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Public Health declares an outbreak at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton after six cases are confirmed at Magee House, an apartment-style residence with 101 units for mature students, some of whom have children.
The outbreak involves the delta variant.
The lockdown extends to St. Thomas University and the New Brunswick Community College because of the potential for exposure.
May 5, 2021: AstraZeneca-linked death
The chief medical officer of health confirms the province’s first death linked to the Astra-Zeneca-Oxford vaccine.
A person in their 60s died after developing blood clots following vaccination, says Dr. Jennifer Russell, declining to release other details.
This is the second serious case of adverse effects from the vaccine. Two other cases are under investigation.
Blood clots and low platelets are “a very rare side effect of this vaccine,” Russell stresses.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard says the risks of dying from COVID-19 are “far greater than the risks associated with receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
June 4, 2021: Charge against doctor dropped
The Crown drops a charge against the family doctor accused of breaking COVID-19 rules and being the source of an outbreak in Campbellton, 11 days before his trial was set to begin.
Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola was charged with violating the provincial Emergency Measures Act for failing to quarantine when he returned from Quebec, but the prosecutor says there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction.
His lawyers call on Premier Blaine Higgs for a third time to apologize. Higgs says he has nothing to apologize for.
June 11, 2021: Doctor plans to sue
Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola plans to sue the province and the RCMP, his lawyers announce.
The draft statement of claim alleges “institutional anti-Black systemic racism,” abuse of power, negligence, defamation, malicious prosecution and a breach of the doctor’s charter rights.
Premier Blaine Higgs, who is not named as a defendant, says he does not regret his comments.
He has challenged Nogla to waive his privacy rights so he can reveal what he says he knows about the doctor.
June 23, 2021: N.B.-N.S. border blockade
Tempers flare at the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border when the highway is blocked by dozens of protesters demonstrating against restrictions that require most travellers from New Brunswick to self-isolate upon arrival in Nova Scotia.
July 11, 2021: 50% of eligible population fully vaccinated
The vaccination campaign reaches a milestone. The COVID-19 dashboard shows 50.4 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have received two doses of a vaccine. In other words, half the eligible population is now fully vaccinated.
July 23, 2021: Going green
Premier Blaine Higgs tells New Brunswickers the province is going green. Effective July 30 at 11:59 p.m., all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted, regardless of whether the province meets vaccination targets.
No more masks in public spaces. No more limits on gatherings. No more checks at provincial borders.
With so few cases, vaccination rates so high, and no one in hospital, he says it’s a tough sell to keep the emergency order in place.
Inflation: Half of Canadians' finances worse than last year – CTV News
As inflation rates soar to the highest they’ve been in Canada in forty years, nearly half of Canadians say that right now, they’re doing worse financially than they were at this time last year.
A further third say they expect things to get even worse in the coming year, the largest number of people to answer this way in more than a decade.
The numbers come from a new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) survey released Friday, which surveyed more than 5,000 Canadian adults between June 7 and June 13 on their financial standing and struggles.
The results shed light on the plight Canadians are facing coast to coast.
Currently, inflation is at a staggering 7.7 per cent higher than last year, according to Statistics Canada. The inflation rate hasn’t been this high since 1983, the year that Canada Day replaced Dominion Day.
The percentage of Canadians answering that they are worse off financially now than a year ago has been increasing steadily over the last few years. In 2018, only 29 per cent of Canadians said they were doing worse than the previous year. That number climbed to 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, then to 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
It’s now the highest that it has been since ARI started tracking this specific question in 2010.
At the same time, the number of Canadians who said they were doing the same as a year ago plummeted, going from 54 per cent in 2018, to 44 per cent in 2020, to 36 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
Interestingly, the percentage of Canadians who say they are doing better than the previous year jumped to 23 per cent in 2020, after years of hovering around 13-14 per cent. That number is now at 17 per cent.
When these results are broken down into the household income of the respondents, those who are in the upper echelons of income, making more than $200,000 annually, were much more likely to report that they were doing better than last year financially, at 26 per cent, and the least likely to report that they were doing worse, at 30 per cent.
On the other end of the scale, those making less than $25,000 per year were more likely to say they were worse off this year, at 51 per cent, and less likely to say they were doing better than last year, at 15 per cent — underlining how the rich are hurt less by shifts such as inflation, and the poor keep getting poorer as rising costs hit their wallets.
Only one in five Canadians said they expected things to improve a year from now, while a third anticipated things to get even worse.
“Residents in Saskatchewan voice the most pessimism and least optimism on this question,” the report stated.
COST OF LIVING IS EXORBITANT FOR MANY
Concerns about the cost of simply living is the one that consumes the time and energy of most Canadians, with food, housing and bills driving a huge amount of financial worries across the country.
When asked what the top provincial issues were, with respondents being able to choose up to three options, “cost of living/inflation” was overwhelmingly the most popular selection, with 63 per cent of respondents selecting it as a major issue.
Health care and housing affordability took second and third place at 52 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, with climate change and the environment coming in at fourth with 26 per cent.
“Some regions of the country are under more economic stress than others,” the report stated. “In Atlantic Canada, the cost of living was already higher than most other parts of the country last year. And Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have experienced higher rates of inflation than other provinces, alongside Manitoba and British Columbia.”
When it comes to the country as a whole, more than half of those who rented said that it’s difficult to afford their rent.
For homeowners, monthly mortgage payments are on the rise after a series of interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada. One quarter of Canadians with a mortgage say prices have already gone up, while another half said they anticipate a price jump. Two thirds say that if their payments increased by $300 a month, they might not be able to afford it anymore.
“The challenge for many, as pandemic-era supports are removed, and some struggle with repayment of the CERB they received, is to avoid debt creation,” the report stated, noting that many Canadians are already struggling with debt.
Two in five Canadians said they had credit card debt.
Of those who scored high on the ARI Economic Stress Index and were classified as “struggling” on that index, 62 per cent had credit card debt, and three-in-five of this group said it would take them more than a year to pay it off.
The Economic Stress Index, created in January, looks at core costs related to quality of life, such as debt, housing and household food costs, as well as the respondents’ anxieties and assessments of their own finances, to map out who is having a harder time.
There are four categories: struggling, uncomfortable, comfortable, and thriving. The proportion of those who are “thriving” has dropped six points since May, while the number of those who “struggling” has risen three points in that time period. Some good news is that 29 per cent of Canadians fit into the “comfortable” category compared to 26 per cent in May.
“A majority in each of the Atlantic provinces fall under the Struggling or Uncomfortable categories,” the report stated, with 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador falling into one of these two categories.
Across the country, in most provinces, more than half of the respondents fell into the one of the bottom two categories, with 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, 59 per cent in Alberta, 62 per cent in Saskatchewan, 57 per cent in Manitoba, 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 54 per cent in Ontario. Prince Edward Island was not included in the survey.
“Only in Quebec (61 per cent) and B.C. (52 per cent) do more than half fall into the top two categories on the ESI,” the report stated. “Notably, by Statistic Canada’s CPI, those provinces have the lowest cost of living of any province in the country.”
The province with the single highest percentage of Canadian respondents deemed to be “thriving” was Quebec, with a whopping 30 per cent.
Just over 75 per cent of Canadians said their province had done a poor job of handling inflation.
Around one in three Canadians said their costs due to purchasing gas had increased, while just under half stated that those costs had gone down for them because they were consciously avoiding driving and seeking out other forms of transportation to save money.
FOOD PRICES LEAVING SOME HUNGRY
The report noted that inflation affects some goods more harshly than others.
“Food inflation was 10 per cent in May, higher than the 7.7 per cent inflation rate overall,” the report said.
Just over half of Canadians surveyed reported struggling to make the grocery bill each month, with the report noting that this is seven points higher than last October.
And the lower your tax bracket, the harder it is to put food on the table. Seven out of ten Canadians making less than $25,000 a year said it is difficult to feed themselves and their family, while at least one third of all incomes reported finding it hard to budget for food.
One B.C. resident told The Canadian Press that her grocery bill has more than doubled. Food Banks Canada are concerned that more and more children — who make up a third of those who rely on food banks — could be going hungry this summer as school ends and access to school-based food programs is cut off.
Earlier this month, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called out MPs for laughing in the House of Commons after he spoke about Canadians being unable to afford groceries. In a video Singh posted of the incident, laughter can be heard after he states that one in four Canadians are going hungry.
“I just mentioned that Canadians are hungry and I hear laughter in the chambers,” Singh said after the Speaker asked him to repeat himself. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely ashamed.” He stated on social media that those who were laughing were Conservative MPs.
TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS
Amid rising inflation, the Bank of Canada is meant to keep the impact on Canadians to a minimum through policy adjustments, but Canadian trust in this institution is split, according to the survey. While 46 per cent said they trusted the Bank of Canada, 41 per cent said they did not.
When the political leanings of survey respondents were taken into account, the results became more stark: Past supporters of the Conservative party and the People’s Party of Canada were less likely to trust the Bank of Canada, with 59 per cent and 86 per cent indicating this respectively.
The Bank of Canada has admitted that it made missteps, and is now playing catch-up as Canada’s economy overheats.
Disney, other companies vow to cover employees' out-of-state abortions – CBC News
The Walt Disney Co., publishing giant Conde Nast and the investment firm JPMorgan Chase were among the major American companies that pledged on Friday to cover travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The ruling did away with the constitutional protection of abortion, leaving the matter to individual states, 13 of which were poised to immediately ban the procedure.
Florida, home to Walt Disney World, currently prohibits abortions after 15 weeks. Disney’s employee benefits will cover costs for those who need to travel to get health-care, including abortions, a company spokesman said Friday. The company, which recently sparred with state lawmakers over the contentious “Don’t say gay” bill, had previously declined to comment on a potential overturn.
Other major media companies — Sony, Paramount, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery and Netflix — also said they will reimburse travel expenses for out-of-state abortions.
Airbnb, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Patagonia made similar pledges. The Gap, in a statement, noted its employee benefits cover abortion and other family planning services, but did not specify travel expenses.
Top executives at other companies — Meta’s outgoing COO Sheryl Sandberg, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman — condemned the ruling as a step back for women’s rights.
“Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law,” Stoppelman wrote in a statement.
There it is. I’m so sorry to see it. Dems, here is your mandate going into midterms. <a href=”https://t.co/BWhLPRQqtC”>https://t.co/BWhLPRQqtC</a>
Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch emails staffers: “The most powerful way for us to respond to what’s happening right now is through our brands and the distinctive editorial lenses with which they’re covering today’s news and the effect it will have on society.” <a href=”https://t.co/0JxkuznpCj”>pic.twitter.com/0JxkuznpCj</a>
Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of the dating app Bumble, said her company will continue supporting reproductive rights by donating to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. OkCupid encouraged people to contact their elected representatives, in a post on Instagram.
Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, Starbucks and Microsoft have all previously said that they would also cover travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state health-care.
In September, Uber said it would cover legal fees for any drivers sued for dropping people off at abortion clinics. That same month, Salesforce offered to help Texas employees relocate, after that state, together with Mississippi, passed “heartbeat bills,” effectively banning early-pregnancy abortions.
Stock markets end week on high note, after weeks of declines – CBC News
Stocks racked up more gains on Wall Street Friday, as the S&P 500 had its best day in two years and just its second week of increases in the last 12 to provide a bit of relief from the market’s brutal sell-off this year.
The benchmark index rose 3.1 per cent, with technology and banks leading the broad rally. The S&P 500 notched a 6.4 per cent gain for the week, erasing the brutal loss it took a week earlier, though it’s still close to 20 per cent below its record set early this year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.7 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 3.3 per cent higher. Both indexes also posted a weekly gain that more than made up for their losses last week.
Stocks rallied this week as investors speculate the Federal Reserve may not have to be as aggressive about raising interest rates as earlier thought as it fights to control inflation.
The gains are a reprieve from Wall Street’s tumble through most of the year, caused by the Fed’s and other central banks’ slamming into reverse the monetary support put into markets through the pandemic. In hopes of beating down punishingly high inflation, central banks have raised interest rates and made other moves that hurt prices for investments and threaten to slow the economy enough to cause a recession. Many economists predict further moves.
“It has been a good week,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “It’s rare. At least in 2022, we’ve had only a couple of weeks where we ended up net positive. It looks pretty similar to what we saw right around the end of May, and that one of course fizzled out.”
The S&P 500 rose 116.01 points to 3,911.74. The Dow climbed 823.32 points to 31,500.68. The Nasdaq rose 375.43 points to 11,607.62.
Consumer sentiment at record low
Parts of the U.S. economy are still red-hot, particularly the jobs market, but some discouraging signals have emerged recently.
A report on Friday confirmed sentiment among consumers sank to its lowest point since the University of Michigan began keeping records, hurt in particular by high inflation.
Another lowlight this week suggested the U.S. manufacturing and services sectors aren’t as strong as economists thought.
Such weakening data raise worries about the strength of the economy. But they also can be good for financial markets, as paradoxical as that may seem.
They could mean less consumer demand fuelling inflation, which would ultimately mean the Federal Reserve doesn’t have to raise rates so aggressively. And interest rates drive trading for everything from stocks to cryptocurrencies.
“We have seen a cooling off in a lot of areas, certainly. Gasoline purchases are down, housing prices appear to be cooling across the board,” Frederick said. “To me all of this speaks to the fact what the Fed is doing now appears to at least be having some impact. Now, whether or not it’s sufficient to bring inflation down, I don’t think we know yet.”
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