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Want BC's Economy to Recover? Prioritize Racialized Women – TheTyee.ca

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Women, particularly Indigenous and racialized women, have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 economic recession.

Women make up the majority of workers in lower-paid, part-time and precarious work. When child care centres closed and schools went online, women left their jobs to care for their children. They were also more likely to take unpaid sick time to care for children and relatives. And when Canada was hit with record numbers of job losses, these losses impacted precarious, low-wage workers — in other words, women — the most.

As we move towards Step 4 of B.C.’s reopening plan, economic recovery is top of mind for the provincial government, with consultations underway for B.C.’s economic plan and the 2022 budget. In order to reverse the recession created by COVID-19, decision-makers need to address our economy’s deepening gender, racial and income inequities.

In short: if we want Canada’s economy to recover — and if we want it to recover equitably — women’s re-entry into the workforce needs to become a political priority for all parties, governments and regions.

If women of diverse ages and races are allowed to fully participate and become leaders in Canada’s workforce, it could add to our economy by as much as $150 billion by 2026.

To achieve this, we need to address the entrenched discrimination that still exists in the workplace, like the “motherhood penalty” and the gender pay gap. We can do this by strengthening and enforcing pay equity legislation, including legislating pay transparency, promoting broader and more flexible parental leave policies and requiring employers to develop action plans to close gaps in gender and race representation at leadership levels.

Instead of expecting women to return to the low-paying jobs and uncertain employment they left during the pandemic, the best way forward is to provide better supports for women to enter B.C.’s growing sectors like the trades, tech and clean energy.

In the tech sector alone, it is estimated that B.C. has a shortfall of more than 30,000 skilled workers, the people with the knowledge, training and expertise to enter the field. Occupational skills training, investments in foreign credentialling and employment programs that fast-track skilled women immigrants will stimulate economic activity and generate tax revenues. To work, these programs will also need to reflect the realities of women’s lives by including paid sick leave and grants for child care and transportation.

The culture surrounding these professions also needs to change in order to retain women and underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous and racialized people. This means working with traditionally male-dominated sectors to ensure they strengthen workers’ voices in the workplace, provide decent pay and afford time for leisure, family and community participation.

In addition, women who do return to working low-wage jobs like serving and retail should have access to paid statutory holidays, paid sick time and family leave, and extended health benefits.

We’ve known since the early days of the pandemic that women, particularly Indigenous and racialized women, have been disproportionately affected by COVID and the recession it caused. More than a year later, low-wage employees continue to experience a slow recovery in B.C. while their jobs remain vulnerable in the face of potential future waves of the virus.

At YWCA Metro Vancouver, we support mothers who are juggling multiple part-time jobs without flexible or affordable child care or safe, affordable housing. Notably, half of B.C.’s working single parents with children under six lost their jobs or had their hours cut during the pandemic, and mothers saw more impact on their work than fathers. What we hear from these moms is the need for more safe, affordable and adequate housing and access to affordable, quality early learning and child care.

Our economy can never be its most prosperous if it is leaving people behind. Racial equity, gender equity and wage equity are pressing issues that have only become more pressing under COVID.

This is our opportunity to build a just and equitable economy that works for everyone. The moment for significant investments and bold action is now.  [Tyee]

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A Key Indicator Shows Weakness In China’s Economy – Forbes

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You’d think from the official statistics that China’s economy was on fire. But a key metric indicates there could be trouble ahead for the second largest economy.

On the one hand the Chinese economy is said to have grown at almost 8% in the quarter through July, according to government data. That’s pretty impressive growth even for an emerging market economy like China.

Soft Steel in China

But on the other hand, more recent data shows a troubling weakness in the country’s steel production. It fell 13.2% in August versus the same month a year ago, according to data from the World Steel Association. That really matters because China produces more than half the world’s steel — or almost a billion metric tons in 2019 — much of which is used in the country’s manufacturing and construction industries. In other words, a weakness in steel production is tantamount to an indication of softness in China’s manufacturing and construction base.

Worse, still China is the only country int he top 10 steel producers to see a decline in steel output over the same period. Japan, the U.S. and Brazil all saw double digit increases, according to the World Steel Assn. data.

Deja Vu All Over Again?

I wrote about a more dramatic Chinese steel production slowdown in June 2015, arguing at the time that it likely augured bad economic news for the communist country. Sure enough in August 2015 poor economic news emerged from China sending global markets crashing.

For that reason, investors might want to be cautious about holding stocks with exposure to China such as those in the iShares MSCI China ETF

MCHI
. It’s already down 7% over the year through Friday, according to data from Yahoo.

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Quebec mulling additional support measures for economy: Pierre Fitzgibbon – Montreal Gazette

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The economy minister was in Montreal to introduce projects to brighten up downtown and lure office workers back.

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Quebec will consider unlocking fresh sums to support economic expansion and ensure businesses in downtown cores can survive the pandemic, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said.

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Finance minister Eric Girard “is going to do an economic update in November, and we’re working now to see what other programs across all ministries we could tap to continue the relaunch of the economy,” Fitzgibbon said Friday in an interview in Montreal on the sidelines of a business event.

“Perhaps there are other sums out there that we can obtain. The government is quite open to this because all in all, public finances are in a good situation.”

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Quebec on Friday reported a $359-million deficit for the three-month period ended June 30. That’s a 92-per-cent improvement over the $4.74-billion shortfall reported in the same quarter a year ago — right at the start of the pandemic.

Real gross domestic product in Quebec expanded at an annualized rate of 3.4 per cent in the second quarter, topping its pre-pandemic level with the help of strong domestic demand, the provincial statistics institute said Thursday. Investment in machinery and equipment, household consumption and residential construction all posted gains.

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By contrast, GDP for Canada as a whole contracted 1.1 per cent on an annualized basis.

Despite the broad economic rebound, some sectors — such as commercial real estate — are struggling.

Office vacancies in downtown Montreal rose to 13.2 per cent in the third quarter, real-estate firm CBRE said Thursday. That’s the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2004.

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Fitzgibbon was in town Friday at a Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal event to introduce eight creative projects selected to brighten up downtown Montreal and lure office workers back.

Provincial financing for the initiative totals $3.1 million, part of a $23.5-million aid package for Montreal’s central business district that was announced in March. All told, Quebec set aside $75 million to help rekindle economic activity in downtown cores across Quebec.

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“The Montreal economy accounts for 57 per cent of Quebec’s GDP, and we cannot let it down,” Fitzgibbon said. “If more money is required, we will do it. At this time, I don’t think we’ll have an issue with money. There are other programs for innovation or creativity that we can put to work. We can take money elsewhere to achieve the same thing.”

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COVID-19 has deprived downtown Montreal of much of its office worker population in the past 18 months. Plans to bring back employees this autumn have recently been put on hold as a fourth wave sweeps across Quebec.

In fact, teleworking’s enduring popularity probably means downtown cores will never be as busy as they were before the pandemic, according to Fitzgibbon.

“We have to admit that many companies are going to favour teleworking, even after health restrictions have been lifted, for reasons such as family-work balance,” the minister said. “That will be a reality.”

And with several downtown-based employers having opened satellite offices in suburbs such as Brossard or Laval during the pandemic, “perhaps we will never have the same density that we had before,” he said.

ftomesco@postmedia.com

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Bahrain to Double VAT as Economy Recovers from Pandemic – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Bahrain will double value-added tax to 10% in an effort to boost revenues and curb one of the Gulf’s widest budget deficits as the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, according to an official close to the government. 

The Gulf country decided to raise VAT following a comprehensive spending and revenue review, the official told Bloomberg, as the government looks for ways to rebalance its finances without undermining an economy in recovery mode.

Bahrain is under fiscal strain despite a $10 billion bailout package pledged by its wealthier neighbors in 2018. Last year, it said it was putting some of its reform efforts on hold to focus on helping the economy cope with the double shock of Covid-19 and a fall in oil prices. 

Bahrain Puts Economic Recovery Ahead of Boosting Budget Revenue

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