COVID-19 Monitor

Last Updated:July 3, 2020

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Canadian Business

Jack M. Mintz: Alberta is the first to think beyond this crisis. Now let’s see Ottawa’s recovery plan (Financial Post) Published on: July 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The IMF World Economic Outlook expects our GDP to fall 8.4 per cent in 2020 with a rebound gain of only 4.9 per cent in 2021. By 2022 GDP will still be four points below its end-of-2019 level.
  • Deficits likely will continue for most of this decade — which is why running surpluses during good years, as we should have been doing since about 2011, is such smart policy.
  • The plan is a confidence-booster focused on growth. It has three main parts: stimulate investment, skill training and helping people get back to work; build shovel ready — and shovel-worthy — infrastructure; and diversify the economy.
‘No mask. No ride’: Uber will require drivers and passengers to wear face masks indefinitely (USA Today) Published on: July 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Uber is extending its mask requirement indefinitely throughout the U.S. and Canada as coronavirus cases continue to rise across several states.
  • The decision was made based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The news comes in tandem with the company’s launch of a campaign running on TV, social media and in the app. It’s called “No mask. No ride” and depicts drivers and Uber Eats delivery people working during the pandemic.
Canada’s economy saw record 11.6% drop in April, but signs of rebound emerging (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada’s real GDP is likely to grow 3 per cent in May, bouncing back from a record decline in April, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate on Tuesday, as businesses across the country began to reopen following coronavirus-linked shutdowns.
  • The goods-producing sector posted a 17.0 per cent decrease, led by sharp declines in manufacturing and construction, with the service sector down 9.7 per cent on sharp plunges in the hospitality, retail and transportation sectors, the StatsCan data showed.
  • “April was a ‘mense horribilis’ for the Canadian economy, and the only thing good about it was that in all likelihood it marked the bottom of this short but extremely deep recession,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.
What factors are impacting Canadians’ mental health during pandemic? (Benefits Canada) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Employment status, income level and helpful coping strategies are key factors impacting how Canadians feel about their mental health, according to a new survey by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada.
  • The factors with the biggest changes in concern levels were family well-being (24 per cent), respondents’ personal future (23 per cent), experiencing isolation and loneliness (21 per cent) and feeling anxiousness or fear (21 per cent).
  • Of unemployed Canadians, those laid off due to the pandemic reported a 25 per cent change in their mental-health concern score, as did those who said they received government support.
Millennials stand out as being more cautious about their personal finances during COVID-19 (Equifax) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Equifax data analytics confirms that, with reduced opportunity for discretionary spending, younger adults have seen a higher rate of decline in credit card balances since January at 16 per cent as compared to under 12.6 per cent for those adults 35 and older.
  • After examining the consumer confidence data and survey research, Kelly Peters, CEO & Co-Founder of BEworks, suggests that younger adults in particular are less susceptible to the scarcity mindset driving other consumers.
  • By proactively leveraging behavioural insights, financial Institutions can take advantage of the unique times we are living in and help consumers make a fresh start in the post-pandemic world.
  • Looking across all age groups, understandably survey respondents are most concerned for their own financial situation, but there’s also a good measure of concern for their friends, country and family dealing with the pandemic that has gripped the world.
Half of all restaurants may not make it to 2021: CEO of Oliver & Bonacini (CP24) Published on: June 25, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The head of one of Toronto’s most famous restaurant groups expects half of restaurants will be forced to close by the end of 2020 if they aren’t given additional support.
  • “First and foremost, I would bet the vast majority of people don’t have patios,” Oliver told BNN Bloomberg. “So there is a huge portion of the industry that is going to be closed.”
  • Oliver said sales will likely be down 70 per cent for the “vast majority” of restaurants this year and without additional support from the government they won’t survive.
Fitch Downgrades Canada’s Ratings to ‘AA+’; Outlook Stable (Fitch Ratings) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The rating downgrade reflects the deterioration of Canada’s public finances in 2020 resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Fitch expects the coronavirus response to raise Canada’s consolidated gross general government debt to 115.1% of GDP in 2020, up from 88.3% of GDP in 2019.
  • Canada has a track record of fiscal adjustment during the 1990s. However, the structure of Canada’s decentralized fiscal framework increases the complexity of any fiscal adjustment.
Atlantic provinces agree to regional COVID-19 pandemic bubble (CBC) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The four Atlantic provinces have agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3, the Council of Atlantic Premiers announced Wednesday in a news release.
  • Other Canadian visitors to the three Maritime provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days may travel within the Maritime region, but not to Newfoundland and Labrador, said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.
Housing demand to drop as COVID-19 hit on economy deepens: CMHC (BNN Bloomberg) Published on: June 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. expects a drop in home prices in the country’s biggest cities amid “severe declines” in home sales and construction.
  • CMHC says the market likely won’t see a return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of 2022.
  • He noted that a decline in immigration and interprovincial activity will lower demand for rental units, which combined with a “significant new supply in rental properties close to being completed,” could mean that vacancy rates are likely to jump.
Canadians working from home permanently should expect salary changes, experts say (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • “That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labour is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,”  said Mark Zuckerberg on a video conference, where he announced more employees would be allowed to work remotely permanently.
  • Only one-third of Canadians working remotely expect to resume working from the office as consistently as they did pre-pandemic, while one-in-five say they will remain primarily at home, according to a June study from the Angus Reid Institute.
  • The companies that don’t offer remote work at all could also find themselves at a disadvantage, if their industry starts to value flexibility and look less favourably at companies that don’t offer it.
Home work: How the pandemic has reshaped our working lives (Vancouver Sun) Published on: June 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Many people working from home while caring for small children say they are exhausted, while empty nesters with space for a home office are simply relieved to skip their daily commute.
  • About 16 per cent of the new at-home workers rate the experience as great, while 15 per cent say it is terrible, according to a recent Angus Reid poll.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, between 60 and 80 per cent of new home workers say they’d like to make the switch permanent, though closer to 20 per cent believe that will happen, according to privately commissioned polls.
Open parks offer little relief for tourism in Alberta (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Alberta’s tourism industry – the fourth largest employment sector in the province – is struggling two weeks after reopening as border closings from the pandemic cause tourism numbers to plummet.
  • Only 22 per cent of Albertans say they would welcome domestic visitors from other provinces, while less than 10 per cent are comfortable with travellers from the United States and other foreign destinations, according to a survey by Destination Canada.
  • And two-thirds of businesses said that they would need to operate at between 50 and 75 per cent of their capacity to meet their minimum operating expenses, according to a Travel Alberta survey on the impact of COVID-19.
Canadian Retail Sales See ‘Massive’ Drop In April, Surprising The Experts (Huffington Post) Published on: June 19, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canadian retail sales plunged for the second month in a row in April, falling 26.4 per cent during the period when the COVID-19 lockdowns were at their peak, according to data from Statistics Canada.
  • The decline is nearly twice as large as the one seen in the U.S. in April, where sales fell 14.7 per cent. It’s also twice as large as what economists had been expecting for Canada.
  • It wasn’t all bad news in the report though. Retailers who had an online presence were able to capitalize on some of the shifts in buying patterns.
Canadian exports set to plunge in 2020, with rebound in store next year (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The worst industry that anybody would have expected would have had the numbers that we’re now posting for the best industries.
  • The industries hit hardest by the pandemic include aerospace, oil, autos and travel services, while the ones weathering the storm the best include agriculture, consumer goods, ores and metals, and chemicals and plastics, according to the report.
  • Consumer goods, according to EDC’s forecasts, will see a 9 per cent decline in exports in 2020, followed by a 10 per cent increase next year.
  • Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, says agriculture may fare better than some of its counterparts in exports because the industry is responsible for feeding Canadians and consumers globally.
Despite reopening orders, real-time economic data shows Canada’s economy remains largely frozen (The Logic) Published on: June 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Nationwide restaurant reservations are down 75 per cent from the same time last year, but up from the 100 per cent drop in March.
  • That increase is driven largely by Edmonton, which leads not only the average in Canada, but most of the world when it comes to restaurant reservations, down only 42 per cent from last year.
  • Nationwide walking searches are up 22 per cent, according to Apple, which aggregates changes in search volume for directions on its Maps app.
  • Searches for transit maps are down 56 per cent, but driving searches are up 24 per cent.
CAMH survey shows pandemic affecting mental health, but anxiety levels may be easing (CBC) Published on: June 17, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The study sampled more than 2,000 Canadians — about half in early May and the other half in late May — and asked a series of questions to determine the effects of the pandemic on mental health.
  • It found that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they have been experiencing loneliness during the pandemic.
  • The study also questioned Canadians on patterns of binge drinking and whether they had been drinking more alcohol during the pandemic outbreak, as well as about feelings of depression.
  • Approximately 24 per cent of the respondents said they were drinking more than usual , and 20 per cent reported feeling more depressed.
In Canada’s COVID-19 capital, younger students return to class in ‘bubbles’ (Reuters) Published on: June 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Quebec’s elementary and younger high school students will be divided into smaller subgroups, or “bubbles,” and no longer switch classes when they return to school this fall, education officials in the Canadian province hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak said on Tuesday.
  • China’s capital, Beijing, said it is closing schools amid a fresh outbreak.
  • Only British Columbia has reopened both elementary and high schools, though students are attending on a rotating basis, while Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have both resumed some in-person classes on a limited basis.
COVID-19: Poll says Canadians fatigued, less concerned about virus protocols (Vancouver Sun) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Just 36 per cent of respondents say they’re staying away from public spaces as much as they were during the early days of the pandemic, while 56 per cent are still physically distancing.
  • The poll also found that 31 per cent of Canadians reported feeling fatigued in recent weeks and 28 per cent say they are anxious, with the majority of those being under the age of 55.
  • Just under half of Canadians (41 per cent) still believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to come, while the rest believe Canada has survived the lowest point of the health crisis.
Employee well-being growing area of post-pandemic focus for employers: survey (Benefits Canada) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • While 72 per cent of Canadian employers said they’ll make minimal or no changes to their benefits coverage in 2021, 21 per cent are planning some plan design changes around health coverage, according to a new survey by Arther J. Gallagher & Co.
  • Among those planning changes, eight per cent said they’re looking at plan design and contribution structure changes, while just four per cent said they expect to make major strategic changes to their benefits offerings.
  • As well, 37 per cent said they plan to include additional support for emotional well-being, 19 per cent said they’ll up their financial well-being support, 10 per cent plan will increase community/social support and six per cent said they’ll offer additional physical support.
Employers want to rehire and workers want to return, but the road back is full of obstacles (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Just 15 per cent of small businesses said their sales have returned to normal, according to a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
  • Among companies that recently struggled to recall or recruit staff, 60 per cent of owners said prospective workers were concerned about physical health, the CFIB found.
  • The number of employed Canadians climbed by about 290,000 in May, unwinding just less than 10 per cent of the three million jobs that were shed in March and April.
More funding, health, equity measures needed ahead of September school reopening: OSSTF (CBC) Published on: June 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The union representing thousands of Ontario high school teachers and education workers is raising the alarm over what it calls “clear risks” involved with reopening public schools in September in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Among other things, the union is calling on the government to provide more personal protective equipment, more cleaning and more funding for the increased staffing it says will be needed to keep everyone as safe as possible from the novel coronavirus.
  • Though Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says a full plan for reopening the province’s schools will be released by the end of June — including measures to ensure physical distancing and restrictions on the movement of students at school — Bischof says the province needs to take additional steps in its reopening plan, and do it quickly.
One country, two pandemics: what COVID-19 reveals about inequality in Canada (CBC) Published on: June 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • A new analysis conducted by CBC News of cases in Montreal, for instance, found strong correlations linking higher rates of COVID-19 infections with low-income neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods with higher percentages of Black residents.
  • Public health officials in Ontario reported last week that the rates of infection and death from COVID-19 were disproportionately higher in the province’s most ethnically and culturally diverse neighbourhoods.
  • The rate of hospitalizations in those hard-hit communities was four times higher. The rate of death was twice as high.
  • In a working paper published this week, four Canadian economists reported that the employment losses in April were greater for younger, low-wage and non-unionized workers, with “public facing” sectors like retail and restaurants hit the hardest.
Trudeau’s call with premiers gets testy as leaders butt heads over funding to reopen economy (CBC) Published on: June 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Thursday evening’s weekly call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers was marked by testy exchanges over the federal government’s pledge of $14 billion to help provinces reopen their economies and the future of the military in Quebec’s long-term care facilities, according to federal and provincial sources with knowledge of the call.
  • When Trudeau announced the $14 billion on June 5, he said it would be earmarked for specific measures to help provinces reopen their economies safely.
  • Those measures include the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers and businesses.
COVID-19: B.C. Hydro survey shows change to daily routines (Vancouver Sun) Published on: June 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Since mid-March, nearly 90 per cent of British Columbians reported drastically shifting their daily routines, including nearly 40 per cent that are working at home five days a week, according to the survey.
  • Other findings include that 45 per cent say they are eating breakfast at a later time, and 24 per cent said they are showering less often and for shorter periods of time in the morning.
  • Almost half of those surveyed said they are cooking more now than they were pre-pandemic, and almost a quarter are making dinner earlier these days.
Alberta lifts economic lockdown in an effort to rein in high unemployment (Financial Post) Published on: June 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • This year, Royal Bank of Canada expects the province’s economy to shrink 8.7 per cent, an outcome that’s second-worst in Canada after Newfoundland and Labrador’s expected 9.9 per cent real GDP contraction for 2020.
  • Unlike other major Canadian provinces that came into the COVID-19 induced recession from a position of strength, Alberta was in a recession even before the pandemic hit.
  • Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday the province would accelerate the timeline for Phase 2 of its planned re-launch to allow gyms, massage parlours, beautician services and other businesses to re-open this Friday as long as physical distancing guidelines are followed.
Health unit to name businesses with two or more COVID-19 cases (Windsor Star) Published on: June 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will soon make public the names of local businesses where they believe an employee has spread COVID-19 to one or more colleagues.
  • The public disclosures are part of an effort to educate residents on what risk the disease still presents to the community as more businesses and workplaces begin to reopen.
Rental advocates push back on potential eviction plans from province (News1130) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • In the wake of a push by B.C. landlords to get their eviction privileges restored, a tenants’ rights group is pushing back.
  • While landlords can’t evict tenants for not paying their rent right now, that debt isn’t going away, and Gharibnavaz says there needs to be a long-term solution.
  • “Maybe some sort of rent bank or something like that, where the renter is going to take on the burden,” he suggests.
Two-thirds of Canadians intend to get COVID-19 vaccine, about half wearing masks in public: survey (Richmond News) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Sixty-eight per cent of survey respondents said they intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available, while 16 per cent said they didn’t know, and another 16 per cent said they would not get vaccinated, according to the poll, released Tuesday, by a Canadian market-research company.
  • When it comes to wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of the virus, 51 per cent of Canadians said they put one on while grocery shopping, 45 per cent for trips to the pharmacy, 17 per cent in workplaces or offices.
  • When it comes to transit, 14 per cent of Canadians said they wear a mask, and another 12 per cent said they wear a mask when they go for a walk.
Why can’t the GTA lift COVID-19 restrictions? These 5 charts explain our lockdown limbo, how the virus is multiplying and more (Toronto Star) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The inability to scale back cases here could be due a number of reasons, including increased testing, which has led to the discovery of more positive cases, or an increase in public gatherings, said Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a family physician who’s been tracking COVID-19 data in the province.
  • As well, she said, delayed reports of positive tests to public health units, which the province acknowledged happened earlier this month at a drive-thru assessment centre in Etobicoke, could have allowed people to spread the virus unknowingly.
  • On Monday evening, the province’s regional health units reported 314 new COVID-19 cases, a decrease of 101 cases reported the same time Sunday.
Pandemic measures expose work-from-home inequality says StatsCan (CBC) Published on: June 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Statistics Canada says that women, people with higher earnings and those with more education are more likely to be able to work from home and therefore less likely to suffer a loss of income due to measures to limit spread of COVID-19.
  • About 50 per cent of single women have jobs that allow them to work from home, compared with about one-third of single men, the report found, while 62 per cent of women in dual-income families hold jobs that can be done from home, compared with 38 per cent for men.
  • Statistics Canada also finds that while less than 30 per cent of primary earners with a high school diploma can work from home, roughly two-thirds of their counterparts with at least a bachelor’s degree could do so.
What dining will look like when Toronto restaurants are allowed to reopen (CP24) Published on: June 6, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The City of Toronto has released guidelines for restaurants that provide the clearest picture so far of how dining will look once the province allows establishments to reopen for dine-in service.
  • Even when restaurants reopen, the document says, staff and customers should still maintain six feet (two metres) of distance at all times.
  • Seating and tables need to be rearranged so that there is at least six feet of distance from edge to edge and no more than six customers should be seated at each table.
Federal government rules out adoption of Mila Institute’s COVID-19 contact-tracing app (The Logic) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The federal government has ruled out an endorsement of one of the highest-profile Canadian efforts to develop a COVID-19 contact-tracing smartphone app, The Logic has learned.
  • The decision against adopting Mila’s app, which is based on the protocols developed by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), strongly suggests the federal government will instead endorse an app based on Apple and Google exposure notification application programming interface.
  • Ottawa-based Shopify, which has developed an app based on the two companies’ technology, is arguably the country’s most prominent remaining contender.
Canada’s trade deficit doubled to $3.3B in April as COVID-19 walloped imports and exports (CBC) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Exports fell to lowest level in a decade, while imports dropped to lowest since 2011.
  • “We are really getting hammered with respect to cars and crude,” said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Canada.
  • The slump in auto and energy exports because of shutdowns was also reflected in Canada-U.S. trade data, where total trade fell by $23.4 billion, representing more than 90 per cent of Canada’s trade activity decline.
The quest for a vaccine could restore faith in big pharma (The Economist) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Until the coronavirus, the company barely dabbled in the $60bn-a-year vaccine business. Yet now he is leading the effort not just to create a vaccine, but also to bring big pharma back in from the cold.
  • Yet it is in the quest for the vaccine that Mr Soriot’s faith in innovation could be most consequential. In April AstraZeneca struck a landmark deal with Oxford University to distribute a potential jab.
  • Within three weeks it had secured manufacturing capacity for 1bn doses, with the aim of beginning deliveries in September.
Coronavirus crisis could cause $25tn fossil fuel industry collapse (Guardian) Published on: June 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The coronavirus outbreak could trigger a $25tn (£20tn) collapse in the fossil fuel industry by accelerating a terminal decline for the world’s most polluting companies.
  • The report predicts a 2% decline in demand for fossil fuels every year could cause the future profits of oil, gas and coal companies to collapse from an estimated $39tn to just $14tn.
  • It follows findings from the International Energy Agency, which forecast the Covid-19 fallout would lead to the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war and trigger multidecade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal, while renewable energy continued to grow.
Amazon is sued over warehouses after New York worker brings coronavirus home, cousin dies (Reuters) Published on: June 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Amazon.com Inc has been sued for allegedly fostering the spread of the coronavirus by mandating unsafe working conditions, causing at least one employee to contract COVID-19, bring it home, and see her cousin die.
  • The lawsuit said Amazon has made JFK8, which employs about 5,000, a “place of danger” by impeding efforts to stop the coronavirus spreading, boosting productivity at the expense of safety.
  • The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring that Amazon comply with worker safety and public nuisance laws, and not punish employees who develop COVID-19 symptoms or are quarantined.
Garneau expands required use of face masks on planes, trains, ships and transit (CBC) Published on: June 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Effective at noon on Thursday, airline flight crew and airport workers will be required to wear non-medical masks, in addition to the existing requirement for passengers.
  • Railway operators will have to notify passengers to wear a face covering when physical distancing of two metres from others can’t be maintained, or as requested by the rail companies.
Hospitals ‘overwhelmed’ by cyberattacks fuelled by booming black market (CBC) Published on: June 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Some experts call for national standards, federal money in battle against health-care data security breaches.
  • Canada’s health system is under siege from unrelenting cybercriminals trying to access patient information and other data, according to health-care professionals and cybersecurity experts who say hospitals and clinics are unable to cope with the growing threats.
  • Three Ontario hospitals were struck by ransomware in October. This year, eHealth Saskatchewan, which manages that province’s personal medical records, was compromised, and in Nova Scotia patients had information about their surgeries exposed during a cyberattack.
Ottawa to pledge billions to aid cash-strapped cities (Toronto Star) Published on: June 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday will pledge several billion dollars in assistance to help cash-strapped cities whose bottom lines have been battered by the pandemic, the Star has learned.
  • An official originally told the Star the funding would be earmarked for infrastructure funding. That was clarified Monday. In fact it would be an advancement of their promised share of gas tax funding “much much sooner,” said the federal official who spoke on background.
  • Municipalities back in April had asked the provinces and federal government for $10 billion — $7.6 billion to cover operating losses suffered by towns and cities and a further $2.4 billion for losses related to transit operations. Toronto alone is looking at a shortfall of up to $1.5 billion this year.
Ontario makes temporary change to layoff regulations to help businesses (CP24) Published on: June 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Ontario is temporarily amending its labour laws to help businesses avoid permanently laying off workers and paying out severance, which could send some into bankruptcy during the pandemic.
  • The change will see non-unionized workers who have had their hours reduced or eliminated placed on a temporary leave that preserves their job. Workers will still be eligible for federal emergency income support programs.
  • The amendment to the law will expire six weeks after the province’s declared state of emergency ends.
Co-working spaces could play a key role in the post-pandemic world of work—if they can survive the shutdown (The Logic) Published on: June 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the temporary closure of the Okanagan coLab co-working space in Kelowna, B.C., its 150-strong membership dropped by just five per cent.
  • The drop was minor, because the space suddenly became “a life raft” for the community that used it to stay connected, and to learn together how to traverse uncharted waters, said Shane Austin, who runs the coLab.
  • The Logic spoke to six owners of independent co-working-spaces who reported that they’re struggling with short-term overhead costs at a time when the future of their business model is uncertain.
As pandemic persists, courts could see permanent changes some consider positive (National Post) Published on: May 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • One of the most dramatic impacts may be happening in courthouses, where hearings that have always occurred in person, are instead being adjudicated through online video or even over the telephone.
  • But the pandemic is also forcing lawyers and judges into a debate about the merits of technology and access to justice.
  • The judge wrote that the videoconferencing system he used allowed all the participants to see each other, and one member of the press even witnessed the proceeding.
Four ways Ontario has made it harder to know how COVID-19 is hitting the province (Toronto Star) Published on: May 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • In Ontario, the primary public sources of information on the spread of the virus have been the province’s 34 local public health units and Public Health Ontario, a government agency created to protect and promote health.
  • “In this case, it’s even more critical for us to know of the people who are being tested, what per cent of them are actually coming back positive, what per cent are coming back negative, because that can help at least give us some idea of how to extrapolate those numbers to the wider community,” said Aleman, a professor of industrial engineering at the University of Toronto .
  • The caveat is that such an extrapolation would be imperfect because of a biased selection scenario where the province has only been testing people strongly suspected of having the virus.
  • Before that date, Ontario’s data included some cases of COVID-19 that had been confirmed by the fact a patient had symptoms and was living in a facility that was experiencing an outbreak, but not a test — the logic being that if a resident got sick where the virus was present, there was no need to conduct a test to confirm the obvious.
After Twitter and Shopify, Transport Canada? Federal department becoming work-from-home office by default (National Post) Published on: May 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • If Transport Canada keeps a work-from-home policy beyond COVID-19, it will be the first federal department to join the ranks of tech giants who made similar announcements.
  • That’s what Transport Canada’s deputy minister announced to some 3,500 employees who tuned in to a departmentwide virtual town hall on Wednesday called TC Talks, according to multiple public servants who were on the call.
  • “Our default will be telework, and working virtually, and that’s going to open up – as people have raised questions and comments – that is going to open lots of good opportunities for how we organize our work and how people can work remotely, not just in the same city but even between regions,” he added during the virtual meeting, Transport Canada confirmed to the National Post.
Banks set aside $11-billion in loan-loss provisions, but will it prove to be enough? (The Globe and Mail) Published on: May 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada’s largest banks just earmarked an unparalleled $11-billion in new reserves to cover losses on loans as the novel coronavirus pandemic batters the global economy.
  • Actual losses and loans in arrears were still modest in the banks’ fiscal second quarter, which ended April 30, as they deferred payments on hundreds of thousands of loans, and governments rolled out an array of relief measures.
  • The loans most at risk are unsecured types of personal debt, such as credit cards and credit lines, as well as corporate and commercial loans to oil and gas companies, and to sectors that rely on discretionary spending, such as restaurants, retailers and hotels.
Canada GDP Fell at Near Record 8.2% (WSJ) Published on: May 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada’s gross domestic product, or the broadest measure of goods and services produced in an economy, fell at an 8.2% annualized rate in the first quarter, to 2.10 trillion Canadian dollars ($1.53 trillion), Statistics Canada said Friday.
  • The drop in Canadian output in the first three months of 2020 was steeper relative to the U.S., its biggest trading partner and southern neighbor.
  • Commerce Department data indicate U.S. GDP fell at a 5% annual rate in the first quarter.
‘They didn’t get to die with dignity’: Canada reexamines care for seniors (Christian Science Monitor) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • In Quebec, which has seen the highest coronavirus infection and mortality rates in Canada, 63% of COVID-19 fatalities have occurred in long-term care facilities, known as CHSLDs.
  • But although both countries have suffered outbreaks in nursing homes, that problem has been much more severe in Canada: More than 80% of COVID-19 fatalities in the country are linked to them, according to Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
  • This week the Canadian Armed Forces shook the nation with a damning report on the unsafe state of five long-term care facilities in Greater Toronto.
  • Advocates and victims’ families are calling for public inquiries as to what went wrong and for new national standards for long-term care to be established.
What the future of shopper experiences will look like (Strategy Online) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • What will experiential marketing look like in an environment where experiences cannot be done in the way they’ve traditionally been?
  • BMW-owned Mini is offering live-streamed discussions about everything from car care to cooking, Kraft Heinz created a collaborative and involved family activity with its ketchup jigsaw puzzle and HBC brought its branded products into mega popular video game Animal Crossing.
  • “I would say that there was a fear to approach AR and VR, and motion sensors and gesture sensors and stuff like that,” said Roma Ahi, VP of production for Diamond Marketing.
  • But now that people are living a more tech-friendly life, there is potential for easier adoption, making clients less apprehensive, even in more risk-averse in Canada.
Ontario extends all emergency orders for another 10 days (CTV News) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • “We are extending these emergency orders to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families as we begin to gradually and safely reopen our province,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news release issued on Wednesday morning.
  • The orders will now be in effect until June 9.
  • On May 19, the province entered the first stage of its recovery phase, which allowed retail stores with a street-front entrance to begin operating again and permitted some outdoor recreational amenities, including sports facilities, to reopen.
Trudeau will push provinces to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave as Canada grapples with COVID-19 (National Post) Published on: May 25, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • That appears to meet a key demand from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in exchange for the New Democrats’ support for a motion to limit sittings and votes in the House of Commons through the summer.
  • The debate will revolve around a Liberal proposal to waive “normal” House of Commons sittings in favour of expanding the special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a sort of stand-in for the past month.
  • “We’re suggesting the government can use something like the (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) or employment insurance to deliver that program federally immediately,” Singh said during a news conference on Parliament Hill.
Trudeau reaches out to bank CEOs for advice on economic recovery (The Globe and Mail) Published on: May 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reached out to the heads of Canada’s six big banks to get their reading on the state of the economy and how COVID-19 relief efforts are faring, banking sources and federal officials told The Globe and Mail.
  • They covered topics such as how relief efforts rolled out jointly by government and banks might need adjusting, where bank clients are feeling pressure most acutely, and which parts of the economy may need further support to recover.
  • The Trudeau government, federal officials say, has largely finished rolling out its emergency response to the pandemic and is now starting work on the “recovery” phase that will aim to salvage sectors of the economy that are most damaged by the crisis.
How COVID-19 is exposing Canada’s socioeconomic inequalities (The Globe & Mail) Published on: May 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Preliminary data support the idea that COVID-19 is hitting marginalized communities harder than others.
  • Public-health messages about staying home, which are aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, have largely ignored the realities faced by low-income workers, people who are homeless or other at-risk groups, said Andrew Boozary, a doctor who is executive director of health and social policy at University Health Network.
  • A recent Toronto Public Health analysis of COVID-19 cases in the city showed that neighbourhoods in Toronto with the lowest incomes, highest rates of unemployment and highest concentrations of newcomers consistently had twice the number of cases of COVID-19 and more than twice the rate of hospital admissions.
COVID-19: The week in review with epidemiologist David Fisman (May 17-22) (TVO) Published on: May 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • TVO.org speaks with the University of Toronto professor about the testing, the numbers, and the outlook for Ontario.
  • To reopen the economy, we need to be doing better on surveillance and on testing.
  • You have places that are hundreds of kilometres and sometimes thousands of kilometres apart, and the provincial hotspot is here in Toronto, and you’d never know it from the messaging coming out of the province, which treats the rest of the province as if it’s the GTA.
Rules for Toronto’s bankers: Wear a mask, book elevator rides (BNN Bloomberg) Published on: May 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Elevator queues, mandatory masks and staggered start times may await Toronto’s office workers when they start venturing back to North America’s second-largest financial centre.
  • Elevators will have limits of four people and Cadillac Fairview plans to add thin anti-microbial film over the buttons.
  • Building occupants at Cadillac Fairview office properties will be required to wear non-medical face masks or coverings in elevators and they’ll be “strongly encouraged” to wear them in common areas, including the underground PATH network that links downtown office buildings in Canada’s largest city.
COVID-19 roundup: RIP the office (The Logic) Published on: May 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke announced his company will keep its offices closed until 2021, and that most of the firm’s 5,000 staff will permanently work from home.
  • Facebook announced similar working arrangements on Thursday, giving new recruits the option to work remotely and soon allowing current employees to request to do the same.
  • Shopify leases more than 1.3 million square feet of office space in Canada, and spent US$29.3 million on lease expenses last year.
Ontario needs to ‘massively scale up’ testing with 2nd wave of COVID-19 almost inevitable, experts say (CBC) Published on: May 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • After about three weeks of new infections seemingly trending downward, the past week has seen a steady increase in its five-day rolling average.
  • “As we try to get our economy back on its feet, we are very, very likely to experience surges in disease,” said infectious disease physician Dr. David Fisman, adding his team believes Toronto is already experiencing one now.
  • On Thursday, B.C.’s top doctor Bonnie Henry pointed out there has never been a pandemic in recorded history that hasn’t had a second wave.
Spelling out the economic recovery options as the world starts to reopen from COVID-19 (CBC) Published on: May 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • As economies around the world take their first, tentative steps toward restarting, Canadians are beginning to wonder what life may look like on the other side of this pandemic.
  • Will the recovery look like a V or more like a U? What about a Nike “swoosh” or something wobbly like a W? Or the worst case scenario — will we take the dreaded L?
  • “There’s virtually no one who thinks there will be a V-shape recovery,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at foreign exchange firm Cambridge Global Payments.
Coronavirus: Antibodies testing coming to Canada (CityNews) Published on: May 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A highly anticipated new test is coming to Canada to detect COVID-19 antibodies through blood samples.
  • Health Canada has just approved the very first serological test to detect those antibodies – meaning testing may begin in Canada in a matter of weeks.
  • Based on daily case counts, researchers have established there is likely a significant portion of asymptomatic carriers in the population. The new test will help them get a more precise infection rate and that could be the key to moving forward.
Canada’s ‘inevitable’ second wave of COVID-19 will expose surveillance blindspots: experts (CTV News) Published on: May 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • No one knows when a fresh surge of COVID-19 cases will emerge in Canada, but experts agree numbers are poised to rise and could very well explode in surveillance blindspots.
  • A “tried and true” principle with any respiratory virus is that infection risk is lower outside and in larger spaces where germs can dissipate, says Dr. Camille Lemieux, medical lead for the COVID-19 assessment centre at Toronto’s Western Hospital.
  • A Canadian resurgence is very likely to start among younger adults who resume social activities, suggesting they’re more likely to risk exposure and will have been largely shielded from infection.
U.S. Secret Service: “Massive Fraud” Against State Unemployment Insurance Programs (KrebsOnSecurity) Published on: May 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • A well-organized Nigerian crime ring is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by committing large-scale fraud against multiple state unemployment insurance programs, with potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new alert issued by the U.S. Secret Service.
  • A memo seen by KrebsOnSecurity that the Secret Service circulated to field offices around the United States on Thursday says the ring has been filing unemployment claims in different states using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to identity theft victims, and that “a substantial amount of the fraudulent benefits submitted have used PII from first responders, government personnel and school employees.”
  • The primary state targeted so far is Washington, although there is also evidence of attacks in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.
China hits back after Jason Kenney says the country is due for a ‘great reckoning’ (CBC) Published on: May 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The Chinese consulate in Calgary is hitting back against recent criticisms levied by Premier Jason Kenney, suggesting Alberta’s premier is fighting with “slander and stigma.”
  • On Wednesday, Kenney sharply criticized China’s handling of the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, warning the country would soon face a “great reckoning” for how it handled the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
  • Canada’s initial response to the outbreak seemed to begin to thaw those relations, and Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton said in February that his top priority was seeking a reset between the two nations.
Coronavirus: Lufthansa to resume some flights to Toronto in June (Global News) Published on: May 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Lufthansa plans to resume flights to destinations including Los Angeles, Toronto and Mumbai next month as it begins to restore some of the capacity grounded by the coronavirus crisis, the German airline group said on Thursday.
  • Group airlines that had brought operations to a near halt will operate about 1,800 weekly flights to 130 destinations by the end of June, Lufthansa said in a statement.
  • “People want to and can travel again, whether on holiday or for business reasons,” Lufthansa sales chief Harry Hohmeister said in the group statement.
U.S. Economy Adds to Grim Records, Signaling Yearslong Recovery (Bloomberg) Published on: May 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • U.S. retail sales and factory output registered the steepest declines on record in April, illustrating a recession so deep that it will likely take years to fully recover.
  • Revenue at retailers and restaurants fell 16.4% from the prior month, almost double the 8.3% drop in March which was previously the worst in data back to 1992, according to a Commerce Department report released Friday.
  • That compared with the median projection for a 12% decline.
McDonald’s Details What Dining In Will Look Like (NY Times) Published on: May 14, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The fast-food chain distributed a guide to franchise owners with instructions like putting “closed” signs on tables to promote social-distancing and cleaning bathrooms every half-hour.
  • Once a local government says that restaurants can admit dine-in guests, a McDonald’s official in that region will decide whether reopening can begin, it says. Then individual franchise owners will make a decision about whether to go through with reopening.
  • Unlike the small, independent restaurants that have been battered during the pandemic, McDonald’s was in a good position to weather the economic fallout. Its drive-throughs have stayed open, and they accounted for about two-thirds of the company’s revenue before the crisis.
What will Ontario’s 1st stage of reopening look like? Premier Ford unveils details (CBC) Published on: May 14, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Ontario’s first stage of economic recovery will include resuming construction projects and the reopening of some workplaces, seasonal activities and healthcare settings — but if you’re looking to find out when schools or day cares might reopen or when you can expand your social bubble, you won’t find the details in today’s plan.
  • Starting May 19, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures.
  • In its recovery framework last month, the government said each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario’s chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
How to Lift a Lockdown (The Walrus) Published on: May 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • From immunity passports to mass testing: the science, logistics, and ethics of recovering from COVID-19.
  • “A lot of the pandemic plans around the world are based on influenza, where you don’t need to develop a whole new vaccine,” so containment measures can be more nuanced, says Beate Sander, Canada research chair in economics of infectious disease.
  • Nearly 6 million Canadians applied for COVID-19 employment benefits in the first month of the pandemic alone.
Britons spending an extra £250m a week on food, alcohol and entertainment during lockdown, suggests survey (The Independent) Published on: May 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Despite increased spending on food, drink and isolation pursuits, consumers are spending an average of £17.9 bn less per month across the economy more broadly.
  • The survey of more than 2,000 adults aged between 35 and 54 by the financial services firm Legal and General and CEBR, an economics consultancy, found the pandemic is creating “fundamental” changes to how consumers spend their money.
  • The survey estimates that Britons are spending 24 per cent less on takeaways and 9 per cent less on tobacco.
TTC faces $520-million shortfall by Labour Day due to pandemic (Toronto Star) Published on: May 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The TTC is facing a budget shortfall from the COVID-19 crisis that could grow to more than half a billion dollars by Labour Day, and the agency will be unable to continue providing vital transit service unless it gets financial help from the provincial and federal governments, according to a new report.
  • The document, which was authored by TTC staff and will be discussed at a special virtual meeting of the agency’s board Wednesday, estimates the agency is facing $520 million in losses and increased costs as a result of the pandemic, which has sent transit ridership and fare revenue plummeting to a fraction of pre-crisis levels.
Ottawa to create bridge financing for big companies, including airlines and energy, that need help in crisis (Financial Post) Published on: May 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada on Monday said it would create a bridge financing facility for large employers including in the airline and energy sectors that need help to get through the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
  • The bridge lending facility will be for all companies, except those in the financial sector, with an annual revenue of about $300 million seeking financing of about $60 million or more that have “significant operations or workforce in Canada.”
  • Companies that use the lending facility will have to commit to respect collective bargaining agreements, protecting workers’ pensions, and support “national climate goals.”
New coronavirus testing, contact tracing key to fending off second wave, experts say (CTV News) Published on: May 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has said reopening schools and businesses relies on testing and the ability of public health departments to trace the contacts of positive cases.
  • As public health restrictions are eased, Phillips said the provinces and territories must maintain a low threshold for testing in order to detect and isolate COVID-19 cases quickly and avoid large outbreaks and exponential growth in cases during a second wave.
  • “The contacts should be tested because that may identify other people, which will then trigger more contact tracing on those people who are testing positive,” said Dr. Peter Phillips, a clinical professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.
Pressure mounts on federal government to help fix, build long-term care homes as pandemic takes deadly toll (CBC) Published on: May 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • “Any existing outbreak management plan in a long-term care home, including the isolation of symptomatic residents, is hindered by the inadequate space and layout available in long-term care homes today.
  • Long-term care facilities fall under provincial jurisdiction, but Hall said capital project funding at the provincial level has been insufficient.
  • Pat Armstrong, a sociology professor at York University who led the 10-year international project Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care, said Canada needs a national long-term care law separate from the Canada Health Act.
The return of the cubicle? Companies rethink office life post lockdown (Reuters) Published on: May 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Can creative sparks fly through plexiglass? Is the water cooler chat a thing of the past?
  • Some firms are considering remodelling their offices to minimise the risk of a second wave of infections. Long rows of desks may be out, work stations sheathed with glass sneeze guards may be in.
  • For the world’s biggest advertising company WPP, staff will return gradually and on a voluntary basis, Chief Executive Mark Read told Reuters.
Coronavirus negatively impacting mental health of 50% of Canadians: survey (Benefits Canada) Published on: May 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The survey, which polled more than 1,500 Canadian workers, found women (57 per cent) were more likely to report a harmful impact on their mental health than men (43 per cent).
  • More than half (52 per cent) of respondents between the ages of 18 to 34 felt their mental health had taken a hit.
  • Two-thirds (62 per cent) of respondents said they’re open to using virtual mental-health care, compared to 40 per cent who said the same in an October 2019 survey.
  • As well, 85 per cent of Canadians who have access to an employee benefits plan said those plans should offer virtual mental-health care as an option.
Running a fever? You’ll be grounded as Air Canada prepares to implement scanners (Toronto Star) Published on: May 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Experts say body temperature is far from foolproof in detecting the novel coronavirus, and determining who can fly or shop or show up to a shift at a factory based on temperature could be as much about perception and peace of mind as it is a reliable tool to weed out the sick.
  • Similar checks were implemented in April at T&T Supermarket locations, and they’re part of visitor screening protocol at some health clinics.
  • Dr. Theresa Tam said the more that is understood about the novel coronavirus, the more it becomes clear that temperature taking is “not effective at all” to identify people who have it.
Quebec leads Canada in coronavirus deaths, so why is it starting to reopen? (CTV News) Published on: May 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • One out of every 250 Quebecers has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Sixty per cent of all Canadian deaths linked to COVID-19 have occurred in Quebec, including more than one-third in Montreal alone.
  • Montreal’s director of public health, Mylene Drouin, said this week that the city is “not seeing a decrease” in its coronavirus curve.
  • The province has attracted criticism for moving to reopen schools before businesses.
The global food supply chain is passing a severe test (The Economist) Published on: May 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • If you live in the rich world and want an example of trade and global co-operation, look no further than your dinner plate.
  • Today, thanks to fleets of delivery lorries filling supermarket shelves, you can binge-eat as you binge-watch.
  • This capitalist miracle reflects not a monolithic plan, but an $8trn global supply chain adapting to a new reality, with millions of firms making spontaneous decisions, from switching rice suppliers in Asia to refitting freezers.
Gatherings of up to 6 people to be endorsed by B.C. health officials, just in time for the long weekend (CBC) Published on: May 6, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Small dinner parties, backyard barbecues and hugs with family are set to return to B.C., just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, while haircuts, elective surgeries and dentist appointments might be available again within weeks.
  • The provincial government announced its plans Wednesday for a gradual return to normal life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For that to happen, however, B.C. will have to stay on its current trajectory, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Where the tragedy really lies’: The crisis in Canada’s long-term care homes (CTV News) Published on: May 6, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • A report released Sunday by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network (ILTCPN) found that those who live in long-term care homes comprise 62 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19-related deaths – the highest share in any of the 13 countries it studied.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada said Tuesday that COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes are responsible for 82 per cent of coronavirus-related deaths in Canada.
Air Canada reports $1.05B first-quarter loss due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic (CBC) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Air Canada has cut its second-quarter capacity by 85 to 90 per cent from same time last year.
  • Air Canada says it lost $1.05 billion in its first quarter compared with a profit of $345 million in the same quarter last year as governments imposed travel restrictions around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Air Canada is also accelerating the retirement of 79 older aircraft in a move that it says will simplify the airline’s fleet, reduce costs structure and lower its carbon footprint.
Canadian province of Quebec begins gradual reopening, except for city of Montreal (Reuters) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The province of Quebec, worst hit in Canada by the coronavirus, began gradually reopening its economy on Monday but pushed back plans for a restart in the city of Montreal, citing health concerns.
  • Quebec is allowing stores with an outside entrance for customers to serve shoppers, but that excludes Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city.
  • The planned reopening of Montreal’s non-essential stores was delayed to May 18 from May 11 because there were too few hospital beds to cope with a possible surge in new cases, Quebec’s premier said.
Ottawa puts up $175 million to back COVID-19 treatment research by B.C. company (Vancouver Sun) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The federal government announced Sunday that Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics Inc. will receive $175.6 million to help find a treatment for COVID-19.
  • The company, one of the first in North America to receive a blood sample from a patient who had recovered from the coronavirus, has identified an antibody with potential to treat the respiratory illness.
Canada to invest $240M in online health care amid coronavirus, Trudeau says (Global News) Published on: May 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is investing over $240 million to bring health care online, expanding tools and creating new virtual platforms for mental health and primary care during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The money will include funding for marginalized communities and virtual care for patients who may not need to see a doctor in person, he said during his daily press conference on Sunday.
Reimagining Business After Coronavirus: How One Cleveland Restaurant’s Choices Ripple Through the Economy (WSJ) Published on: May 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • After coronavirus, he is fundamentally rethinking his business to have any chance of saving it in a post-lockdown world.
  • “This isn’t a restart. This is a startup,” said Mr. Bebenroth. “The model has changed so much,” he added. “It is a new company.”
  • Among the questions the 42-year-old chef is grappling with: Is the pandemic the end of passed-around hors d’oeuvres? What to do with a farm full of fancy purple asparagus?
As weather improves, questions about outdoor COVID-19 transmission risks grow (CBC) Published on: May 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Please, go outside, says B.C.’s top doctor. Don’t go where everybody else is going, says Ontario’s.
  • Research about the likelihood of outdoor transmission of the new coronavirus is virtually non-existent.
  • While evidence about outdoor transmission of the virus is lacking, research “has consistently shown that transmission is strongly dependent on being in close proximity to a sick person for some period of time,” says the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, a Vancouver-based team of researchers funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Wary Workers Are Trying to Keep a Canadian Beef Plant Shut (Bloomberg) Published on: May 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The union representing employees at a major Canadian beef plant that’s been hit by the coronavirus is trying to keep the facility shut to protect workers.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 has sought a stop work order and filed an unfair labor practice complaint to try and stop Cargill Inc. from reopening its High River beef plant in Alberta on May 4, the union said Friday in a statement.
  • Nearly half of the plant’s 2,000 workers have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the union, which says the facility should remain closed until the company can ensure the safety of workers.
Two Medical Systems, Two Pandemic Responses (NY Times) Published on: May 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A health economist who has taught on both sides of the border examines the difference between Canada and the United States.
  • “The kind of system we have in Canada — and I think in British Columbia we have a pretty well-run version of it — allows the public health authorities to essentially commandeer the hospital system. It’s a command and control thing, it’s not a coordination thing,” said Bermand, professor of global health systems and economics at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • Few American hospital administrators got together to do things like moving medical supplies and patients around between their institutions, Professor Berman said.
Canada’s early COVID-19 cases came from the U.S. not China, provincial data shows (National Post) Published on: April 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The global COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan, China, but data from Canada’s largest provinces show it was American travellers, not Chinese, who brought the deadly virus to our shores.
  • Air Canada suspended flights from China in February and the government encouraged people not to travel to China as early as January, but did not ban travellers until March 18 when it imposed sweeping global restrictions.
  • Of those cases, just five related to travel from China.
More than 50% of Canadian companies have lost at least one-fifth of their revenue to COVID-19, StatsCan says (CBC) Published on: April 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Nearly one-third — 32.3 per cent — of businesses have lost 40 per cent of their revenues during the pandemic.
  • A further 21.2 per cent said revenues were down by at least 20 per cent.
  • Businesses in the accommodation and food services sector were most likely to have felt the pinch, followed by entertainment and recreation and retail trade.
  • More than 60 per cent of businesses in those parts of the economy reported losing at least one-fifth of their usual revenue.
We Mapped All the Media Impacts of COVID-19 in Canada (The Canadian Journalism Project) Published on: April 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • More than 100 media outlets in Canada have made cuts in 11 provinces and territories in a six-week period, with nearly 50 community newspapers shuttering.
  • Journalists and media workers across Canada are suffering from the labour impacts, as are other sectors. Despite challenging employment conditions, they are sourcing and delivering crucial information on a protracted, history-defying news event.
1 in 4 Alberta COVID-19 cases now tied to meat plant, as outbreak spreads to nearby First Nation (CBC) Published on: April 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada’s largest outbreak of COVID-19 is linked to an Alberta meat-packing plant — and has now spread to a nearby First Nation, a local official says.
  • That plant is the location of Canada’s largest outbreak tied to a single site, with 1,167 cases, representing nearly 25 per cent of Alberta’s total COVID-19 cases, said a spokesperson for Alberta Health.
No COVID-19 bailouts for firms that use tax havens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says (The Hamilton Spectator) Published on: April 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will not allow companies that use offshore tax havens to receive COVID-19 bailout funds.
  • During the House of Commons’ first virtual sitting Tuesday, Trudeau was pressed by the Bloc Québécois to prevent companies that don’t pay their fair share of tax from benefitting from government aid.
Ford unveils roadmap for ‘re-opening’ Ontario as number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs drops (CBC) Published on: April 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Ontario will reopen its economy through a three-stage process in the coming weeks and months, the government says, though it offered no firm date and few details about when that effort will begin.
  • Each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
  • Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer health, said last week that the province would need to see fewer than 200 new cases daily for an extended stretch before relaxing COVID-19 emergency measures would be feasible.
Malls face catastrophic hit in Canada with unpaid rent surging (BNN Bloomberg) Published on: April 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada’s malls are facing a wave of skipped rents and could see vacancy rates triple by year-end, with the coronavirus poised to leave its scars on a fragile retail sector long after the pandemic ends.
  • Longer term, fear of new outbreaks may only accelerate the shift online — even for movies and restaurants, which had been touted as potential buffers for malls.
  • The property owner is expected to kick in 25 per cent of the rent, and the tenant the other 25 per cent. The loans will be forgiven if the landlord agrees to lower rent by at least 75 per cent and agrees to not evict a tenant while the program is in place.
COVID-19: Ontario’s front-line workers to receive ‘pandemic pay’ increase of $4 an hour (Ottawa Citizen) Published on: April 26, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Premier Doug Ford says more than 350,000 front-line workers in the battle against COVID-19 will receive a $4 an hour “pandemic pay” increase.
  • “It’s our way of saying thank you,” he said at a press conference Saturday.
  • More than 350,000 workers will be eligible for the extra pay, said the province.
Get Ready for 60-cent Loonie and Canada Downgrades, Rosenberg Warns (Bloomberg) Published on: April 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada’s currency will depreciate sharply and its credit rating will suffer as the federal government is forced to “backstop everyone,” rolling out more assistance for provinces, companies and households, according to economist David Rosenberg.
  • The country is “likely facing a series of downgrades” to its AAA rating, given that the total debt in the economy is already an unprecedented 350% of GDP, he said.
  • “It will be interesting to see how a central bank that does not govern over the world’s reserve currency and a country with a massive balance-of-payments deficit will be able to have all of this largesse find its way onto the BoC balance sheet” without jeopardizing global investor confidence, he said.
What COVID-19 means for food systems and meat packing (iPolitics.ca) Published on: April 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The most immediate impact of these plants shutting down will be on the farmers who depend on these plants as their primary way of accessing markets.
  • Not only are these plants difficult to reconfigure for social isolation, these plants often bus workers from urban centres and so while the plants need to be built outside of the city, they also need a lot of workers from within the city.
  • Over the next few months, therefore, disruptions in the food supply chain is likely to primarily hurt farm incomes and lead to food price inflation that affects lower income Canadians, and folks who have seen wages decline, the most.
Why easing COVID-19 restrictions will present challenges between provinces (CBC) Published on: April 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Infectious disease experts say provinces looking to relax restrictions related to COVID-19 need to consider their neighbours.
  • “Many provinces in Canada have no hard borders,” said Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Calgary in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba — we are not exactly islands where we can cut off travel between provinces.”
  • Premier Scott Moe said travel was the source of many of the province’s early COVID-19 cases.
Canada Post sees ‘Christmas-level’ package volumes during COVID-19 (CityNews) Published on: April 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The postal service says it delivered more than 1.8 million parcels to Canadians on Monday, similar to the biggest delivery days it sees during the holiday season.
  • Canada Post is advising customers to expect delays because it takes longer to process the heavy, incoming parcel volumes.
Investors worry Canada’s most promising startups will be left out of BDC’s emergency fund-matching program (The Logic) Published on: April 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • BDC Capital has allocated $150 million for a bridge-financing program meant to help Canadian startups weather the COVID-19 pandemic, but investors say it isn’t enough—and that the program’s terms are too prohibitive to address the sweeping need companies face as venture capital retreats from the economy.
  • Of particular concern to VCs is the interest rate—BDC will collect four per cent interest on its co-investments, plus its floating interest rate, which currently sits at 4.5 per cent.
  • One VC who spoke on condition of anonymity said one of their portfolio companies estimated BDC could walk away with as much as 25 per cent of their company under one of the scenarios the firm had laid out.
Federal committee working on criteria to ease COVID-19 restrictions, says Canada’s top doctor (CityNews) Published on: April 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada’s public health officer says a special advisory committee on COVID-19 is working on setting criteria on when physical distancing restrictions can be eased.
  • The special advisory committee will look at benchmarks, such as the rate of hospitalizations, daily reports of new cases.
  • Premier Rob Ford suggested this week that Ontario could reopen its economy around the May long weekend.
Coronavirus: Doug Ford says he’s getting lobbied hard to reopen various sectors of economy (Global News) Published on: April 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Ford said his government’s framework for how and when to reduce and remove various restrictions should be released in the next few days.
  • He would not give specifics, except to say that one of the first areas may be outdoor activities.
  • Ford’s comments come a day after new provincial modelling suggested the community spread in Ontario is peaking – though cases in long-term care homes are rising.
Sysco Canada Debuts Online Grocery Platform (Digital Magazine) Published on: April 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Sysco Canada has launched an online store to sell direct to consumers for the first time ever.
  • With the click-and-collect program, shoppers can place their grocery order online and drive to the nearest location to pick it up.
  • Demand for online grocery options is skyrocketing as businesses across the world pivot to offer more access to produce, meant, and other staples.
BlackRock’s Kurt Reiman on Canada’s response to COVID-19 (The Logic) Published on: April 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Kurt Reiman, managing director and chief Canadian investment strategist at BlackRock, has watched the COVID-19 epidemic change the dynamics of the country’s economy.
  • “Initially, I think it’s going to be an extension of the government income replacement so that it stretches across the economy as widely as possible. Policy can make a difference, especially when it comes to small- and mid-sized businesses.”
  • “A lot of the loan guarantees and lending that you’re seeing in the United States and other countries is not meant to be repaid. They’re more like grants.”
Toronto in coronavirus peak but pandemic activity ‘slowing down,’ medical officer of health says (Global News) Published on: April 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Toronto’s medical officer of health says the city is in the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but adds there’s reason to have “cautious optimism.”
  • “Our data modelling shows us that we are currently in the peak period for our reported cases.”
  • She also noted that there haven’t been “dramatic surges” in hospitalizations, adding new instances of people being admitted to hospital has started to decrease.
To Get Back to Work, Companies Seek Coronavirus Tests for Workers (WSJ) Published on: April 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to General Motors Co. are exploring ways to test their employees for Covid-19 before they come in to work.
  • Some executives on the call indicated they were looking into providing tests for workers and, potentially, customers, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • With the arrival of virus tests that deliver results in minutes, rather than days, employees could report to those sites for virus tests before heading into work, he said.
Doctor’s association says help from government is not enough to survive COVID-19 (CityNews) Published on: April 19, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The association representing Ontario doctors says a proposal from the provincial government to offer advance payments will not be enough to keep clinics open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The provincial government is offering clinics monthly payments to cover the loss of revenue from lower patient volumes and increased costs for personal protective equipment.
Canada to spend $306M on Indigenous businesses struggling amid coronavirus pandemic (Global News) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday the federal government will spend $306.8 million to help Indigenous businesses affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • The money will give Indigenous businesses access to short-term interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions, Trudeau told reporters.
  • It comes in addition to the $305 million in funding announced last week aimed at helping Indigenous communities prepare and react to the spread of the virus.
Red Cross to organize training for volunteers in Montreal, Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre (CityNews) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The regional health authority for Montreal’s West Island says it is partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to organize training for volunteers at nursing homes ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The health agency says the Red Cross will train 40 people each day to help residents of the area’s long-term care facilities as the virus rages through Quebec, which counts the most confirmed cases of any province at about 16,800.
  • The Red Cross announcement Saturday comes as Canadian Armed Forces members with medical expertise begin to fan out to nursing homes across Quebec after Premier Francois Legault took the unusual step of asking the federal government for military assistance.
Canada, U.S. extend border restrictions 30 days to control coronavirus spread (Reuters) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada and the United States have agreed to extend border restrictions for another 30 days to help control the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday.
  • Trudeau said the agreement is unchanged, and he expected shipments of medical supplies such as masks to continue to cross the border.
  • Quebec is the epicenter of Canada’s outbreak, with seniors in care homes accounting for most of the province’s 805 deaths.
Lack of coordination and medical disinformation in Canadian self-assessment tools for COVID-19 (medRxiv) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • As SARS-CoV-2 threatens to overwhelm health systems in Canada, it is imperative that provinces are able to plan and manage an effective and reduced risk response.
  • We designed four different prototypical patients with a combination of common COVID-19 symptoms and opportunities for exposure who were made to self-assess using the 10 provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tools on 1 April.
  • Thus, there is not a single, evidence-based Canadian standard of care simply for self-assessment.
  • Without consistency in public health guidance, Canadians cannot appropriately self-isolate to mitigate community transmission, nor can the necessary valid and reliable data be collected to inform critical epidemiological models that help guide pandemic response.
Trudeau announces aid for struggling energy sector, including $1.7B to clean up orphan wells (CBC) Published on: April 17, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as aid for rural businesses and people working in the arts and culture sectors.
  • During today’s daily briefing outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, Trudeau also announced the government will establish a $750 million emissions reduction fund, with a focus on methane, to create jobs through efforts to cut pollution.
  • Trudeau said the government is also working to expand credit for medium-sized energy companies so they can maintain operations and keep their employees.
The pandemic seems to be giving Canadians warm feelings about government. Can it last? (CBC) Published on: April 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A lot has changed in the last month — possibly even our views about the role and value of government.
  • The result was effectively a toss-up: 52 per cent sided with the pro-government statement, while 48 per cent took the dimmer view.
  • Public support has increased for elected leaders across the western world in the initial stages of this crisis. A new sense of belief in the value of government could be connected to that same phenomenon.
Food banks’ demand surges amid COVID-19. Now they worry about long-term pressures (Global News) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The use of food banks increased 28 per cent across the country during the Great Recession, according to Food Banks Canada CEO Chris Hatch — and in just in the last few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand jumped 20 per cent on average.
  • As the spread of COVID-19 forces businesses to close and lay off employees, Hatch projected demand at the 3,000 food agencies his organization represents could surge to 30 or even 40 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, which averaged 1.1 million visits per month.
Real-time economic data shows Canada frozen in time (The Logic) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • To capture the state of Canada’s economy today, The Logic compiled real-time data that shows a country fundamentally transformed.
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport has seen a rapid decline in airplane departures, dropping 87 per cent between March 3 and April 13, from 597 departures in one day to 79.
  • In total, 9.64 million Canadians are now actively online during the workday, a 110 per cent increase from the typical 4.6 million pre COVID-19, according to Wi-Fi analytics firm Plume.
Is Zoom’s breakout moment with individuals creating additional revenue for the company? (Cardify) Published on: April 14, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Over the past few months, few companies have received as much attention and scrutiny as Zoom.
  • While it’s still early, we’ve seen a sharp increase in Zoom subscriptions on personal (not corporate) credit and debit cards.
  • The increase coincides with statewide stay-at-home orders across the country, with every state exhibiting a nearly identical pattern.
Cities across Canada grapple with shortfalls in the hundreds of millions due to COVID-19 crisis (CityNews) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Major municipalities, including Vancouver, are projecting big losses this year, which poses a major problem as they can’t run deficits.
  • Raising revenues at a time like this doesn’t seem to be feasible so it may mean cutting expenditures. Of course, the alternative is for the provincial governments or perhaps the federal government to come in and help out during this crisis.
  • Calgary has reported losses of $15-million each week, with that city’s mayor saying there’s also been an increase in expenses to deal with the pandemic’s impacts.
  • Toronto is facing a financial hit of close to $65-million a week, the mayor of Canada’s most populous city saying a decrease in public transit as well as other revenues was to blame for the losses.
Canada building its own PPE network in China (CBC) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Diplomats, consultants create a made-for-Canada solution to get critical supplies from China.
  • With the global market for medical supplies overwhelmed by chaos and acts of piracy, Canada needed to take some of the risk out of securing everything from badly needed medical masks to gowns to gloves.
  • The federal government has secured an arrangement with Air Canada and Cargojet to run more supply flights from China once Bolloré Logistics has enough supplies in the warehouse ready to go.
Reopening U.S. economy by May 1 may be unrealistic, say experts, including some within Trump administration (Washington Post) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Public health experts on Sunday debated the question of when to reopen portions of the U.S. economy, shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, with several Trump administration officials cautioning that a target date of May 1 — floated by President Trump, among others — may not be realistic.
  • “It is not going to be a light switch,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak you’ve already experienced, and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced.” The transition could “probably start, at least in some ways, maybe next month,” Fauci said.
  • Because the virus has a 14-day incubation period, experts also say that states should refrain from moving toward relaxing their restrictions until they have seen a sustained reduction in new cases for at least that long.
Steering Through the Next Cycle (Oliver Wyman) Published on: April 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • This year’s report sketches out three alternative scenarios for the evolution of the pandemic and its economic impacts, ranging from a rapid rebound to a deep global recession, and assesses the implications for wholesale banks over the medium term.
  • The combination of lower revenues and elevated credit losses could drive earnings down by 100 percent in our central case to over 250 percent in our deep global recession scenario.
  • The industry has built extensive capital and liquidity buffers to withstand this kind of stress event, putting them in a position to play an important role as shock absorber for the economy.
Alberta to send personal protective equipment to Ontario, Quebec, B.C. (CBC) Published on: April 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Premier Jason Kenney announced Saturday the province would be sending personal protective equipment or PPE to other provinces battling COVID-19.
  • Kenney said the numbers supported the belief that Alberta would have beds and medical equipment beyond its need.
How the Virus Transformed the Way Americans Spend Their Money (NY Times) Published on: April 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • In recent weeks, more than 16 million workers in the country have filed for unemployment. And with no end to the outbreak in sight, consumer spending is likely to be fundamentally different for many months to come.
  • In a 7-day period that ended on March 18, grocery sales were up 79 percent from the previous year.
  • Spending on video game companies like Twitch and Nintendo is booming, and streaming services, including Netflix and Spotify, are enjoying gains as well.
Canada looking to prepare ‘surge’ force, use cellphone data to contain COVID-19 (National Post) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Federal and provincial health officials are recruiting small armies of staff and examining technology options such as cell phone location data as they ramp up Canada’s capacity to do contact tracing.
  • Canada is still in its ‘first wave’ of infections, and officials have said the best course of action for now is to have everyone stay home.
  • But once the first wave fully subsides — likely sometime in the summer — extensive testing and contact tracing should allow Canada to start re-opening its economy and lift some of the physical-distancing restrictions.
Bombardier eyes resumption of Toronto plant assembling corporate jets (Reuters) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Bombardier is taking early steps to revive assembly of its most lucrative business jets after production was halted for weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak, even as the pandemic risks sapping demand for corporate aircraft.
  • It is unclear when Bombardier would be able to restart its Montreal facilities as Quebec extended the closure of non-essential businesses in the province until May 4.
  • Gulfstream Aerospace, a division of General Dynamics and Embraer SA are still producing business jets in the United States.
The post-pandemic question: when this ends, how do we get our country back? (CBC) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Our relative success in navigating the ‘new normal’ will be measured by how quickly we can return to something like the old normal, and how much pain we might endure on the way to getting there.
  • Current measures to shut down most of the Canadian economy and calls to practice physical distancing will remain in place until the first wave has passed.
  • But 3,598 Canadians were killed at Vimy Ridge. We might consider ourselves lucky if only that many die as a result of COVID-19.
Amid staggering unemployment rate, public servants handling EI claims are unsung heroes (Ottawa Citizen) Published on: April 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada hasn’t seen unemployment rates higher than 20 per cent since the darkest days of the Great Depression.
  • By Monday evening, the number of EI claims made since March 16 was 2.72 million. There were 788,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications made on Monday alone.
  • In the event, the new system exceeded expectations, clearing 500,000 claims in the first 24 hours.
  • By Monday, April 6, 2.24 million claims had been processed, meaning electronic or paper cheques were in the mail. The dispatch with which the whole process has been carried out does raise the question of why it takes 28 days under normal circumstances.
Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 1: Impacts of COVID-19 (Statistics Canada) Published on: April 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • To get timely information about how Canadians are coping with COVID-19, Statistics Canada developed a new web panel survey. More than 4,600 people in the 10 provinces responded to this survey between March 29 and April 3.
  • One in 10 women is very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home.
  • More than one-half of Canadians used news outlets as a main source of information about COVID-19. This proportion was higher among Canadians aged 50 and older (56%) than among those younger than 50 (47%).
The COVID-19 Crisis and Policy Preferences of Canadian Technology Scale-ups (University of Toronto) Published on: April 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • This report assesses the perspective of Canadian technology scale-ups: what is their top economic concern and what do they think about the federal support being offered?
  • Majority of respondents cite ‘revenue’ as their top concern right now, not payroll or other business concerns.
  • When asked what more government should do, one-quarter of those who answered think the government should consider procurement options.
Why is B.C. flattening the COVID-19 curve while numbers in central Canada surge? (CBC) Published on: April 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • The COVID-19 outbreak is currently more severe in Canada’s two largest provinces than it is in British Columbia.
  • Fisman believes B.C. was able to, as Henry put it, “take a lot of measures early” because they had the lines of communication to quickly scale up a unified response relatively early.
  • At the same time, British Columbia was fortunate that the scheduled spring break for students was later than in other jurisdictions — allowing health officials to adapt.
NBA coaches prepare for possible intriguing playoff matchups (Seattle Times) Published on: April 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • With NBA games indefinitely on hold, there has been a lot of discussion about postseason possibilities — including by coaches around the league.
  • They’re preparing for what a resumption of the season that was shut down March 11 could look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The ideas are many, from a shortened version of the remaining schedule played without fans to the very real possibility of jumping straight into the playoffs to ensure a season is completed before the end of summer.
The pandemic is breaking down political barriers between provincial and federal governments (CBC) Published on: April 5, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Unity of purpose brings former foes together in ways that Canada has not always seen in past crises.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford, another regular sparring partner of Trudeau’s, said in a news conference earlier on Thursday that he would “never break ranks” with the prime minister or his fellow premiers in the midst of a crisis.
  • The political map across the country is not one that should make this kind of collaboration between provincial and federal governments easy.
Canada’s Big Six banks cut credit card interest rates to ease coronavirus impact (Reuters) Published on: April 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada’s Big Six banks all said they will reduce interest rates on credit cards to provide relief to customers affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bank of Montreal said on Saturday it will temporarily reduce credit card interest rates to 10.99% for personal and small business customers receiving payment deferrals due to the outbreak.
  • Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had urged banks to help alleviate the burden credit card interest rates place on Canadians.
Food security experts warn of supply shortages, higher prices due to global pandemic (CBC) Published on: April 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Food security experts are warning the global pandemic could lead to supply shortages, higher prices and a growing nutrition gap between rich and poor.
  • Elaine Power, a food security expert at Queen’s University, said various problems caused by the pandemic — border closures restricting the movement of foreign farm workers, transportation and import bottlenecks, panic hoarding at grocery stores — can all contribute “massively” to higher prices or food shortages.
  • Even the honeybees normally imported from other countries to pollinate Canadian crops could become harder to source, she said.
In Doug Ford’s Ontario, knowledge is sorrow (Maclean's) Published on: April 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • “These numbers are stark and they are sobering. They tell a story,” Ford told reporters at Queen’s Park.
  • But the premier, like most of us in our due time, has decided sorrowful knowledge is more compelling than glib ignorance, and that the only way to deny purchase to an infectious disease is to give it fewer chances to infect.
  • But we seek progress, not perfection, and surely it is progress for public office holders to decide they do not deserve to know more about the uncertain path ahead than we do.
Toronto restaurant owners say they cannot survive coronavirus shutdowns (CityNews) Published on: April 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The city, known for being a “foodie town,” is home to over 17,000 eateries, from cult favourite holes-in-the-wall to more upscale establishments with months-long wait lists.
  • Summerfield says after it’s all over, Toronto’s restaurant scene will be decimated and he estimates a 50 to 70 per cent failure rate among establishments in the city, including large chains.
  • Stinson says the government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy is of no use to a business like hers because they no longer have any employees to pay wages to.
‘It’s going to be stark,’ Ford agrees to release COVID-19 infection modelling to public (CP24) Published on: April 2, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Premier Doug Ford has reversed course on releasing Ontario’s COVID-19 modelling data, saying now that the public needs to see the data he has seen, adding “it’s going to be stark.”
  • He wouldn’t speak to the data provincial doctors will release sometime on Friday, but said it will be sobering for some.
‘Everybody is susceptible’: Why younger Canadians may be helping fuel the spread of COVID-19 (CBC) Published on: April 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Younger Canadians represent one in three of all reported COVID-19 cases, and experts say they could be unknowingly accelerating the spread of the virus in Canada and around the world.
  • Of the 4,186 COVID-19 cases for which the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided epidemiological data, 29 per cent are aged 20 to 39 and four per cent are under 19 — meaning one-third of cases in Canada involve people who are younger than 40.
  • Dr. Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said it’s important for younger people to remember we’ve never encountered this new coronavirus, so we’ve built up no immunity to it.
Canada’s next-door neighbour is now the epicentre of global pandemic. Here’s what that U.S. surge means (CBC) Published on: March 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • When asked Monday about the travel restrictions on Canada and Europe, Trump acknowledged they would likely also remain in place at least until April 30: “The guidelines will be very much as they are.”
  • One epidemiologist and public-health specialist who checked the totals Monday estimated that the rate of infections was, in fact, about 2.9 times higher in the U.S. than in Canada.
  • That evaporation of American incomes would further batter Canada’s economy, given that three-quarters of Canada’s international exports go to the U.S.
Vancouver Convention Centre to be repurposed into emergency hospital (Vancouver Sun) Published on: March 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The Vancouver Convention Centre will be outfitted with 217 beds for people recovering from non-COVID illnesses, surgeries, heart attacks or injuries, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
  • It is one of the first in what is expected to be a provincewide plan to repurpose community centres, convention facilities and other public spaces as overflow hospitals should COVID-19 cases overwhelm the 19 designated primary hospitals for coronavirus cases.
  • However, Dix has instructed all health authorities to plan for the worst case-scenario, similar to northern Italy’s hospitalization rate, in which B.C.’s hospitals would be strained and require hundreds of existing patients being moved to other facilities to make space for coronavirus cases.
Ex dividend (Reuters Breaking Views) Published on: March 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Carmaker Ford Motor, fashion retailer H&M and UniCredit, the Italian bank, are among those that have cancelled or suspended their payouts in the last few weeks.
  • Official restrictions are partly to blame. The European Central Bank on Friday urged lenders it regulates to halt dividends and conserve capital.
  • Nevertheless, a dividend drought will put pressure on income-dependent investors, like pension funds, which tend to rely on the regular income to meet their obligations.
Urgent Demand for Medical Equipment Is Making Air Cargo Fees ‘Absolutely Crazy’ (Bloomberg) Published on: March 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Urgent demand for medical equipment to fight the coronavirus has sent the cost of chartering aircraft skyrocketing and turned a typically humdrum process into an ultra-competitive auction.
  • “Chartered prices have been pushed up from less than $300,000 four to six weeks back to $600,000 to $800,000 in the last few days,” Anthony Lau, chairman and founder of logistics company Pacific Air (HK) Ltd., said in an interview Friday.
  • The likes of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Korean Air Lines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. are hauling a greater amount of goods in the bellies of their passenger planes to keep up with demand. Cargo rates have risen over 10% in recent weeks.
Microsoft: Cloud services demand up 775 percent; prioritization rules in place due to COVID-19 (ZDNet) Published on: March 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Microsoft is sharing more guidance around capacity limits it is putting in place for its cloud resources caused by higher-than-usual demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Microsoft officials say the company has seen a 775 per cent increase in demand for its cloud services in regions enforcing social distancing and/or shelter-in place due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Last week, officials acknowledged the company has been throttling some “non-essential” Office 365 services so as to continue to meet demand.
Canada ‘very concerned’ with OPEC’s decisions amid coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau (Global News) Published on: March 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is “very concerned” with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) decisions amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, but that the government remains focused on helping Canadians struggling as a result of the dramatic drop in oil prices.
  • The price of oil sank nearly 20 per cent in early March after Russia refused to roll back production in response to falling demand and OPEC member Saudi Arabia signalled it will ramp up its own output.
  • The price of Western Canadian Select for crude fell below $5 USD a barrel on Friday, as demand during the COVID-19 outbreak continued to drop.
COVID-19 battle will last ‘months, many months’ as cases soar: federal doctor (CTV News) Published on: March 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • Canada’s deputy chief public health officer has delivered a sobering assessment of the country’s struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dr. Howard Njoo says the fight is far from over, that it could include a second wave, and that we are certainly in it “for the long haul.”
  • One possible glimmer of hope did emerge from B.C. Friday, where data indicates the province’s COVID experience will likely resemble South Korea’s rather than brutally hit Italy.
Bank of Canada ventures into uncharted territory to fight coronavirus fallout (Financial Post) Published on: March 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Along with the interest-rate cut, the central bank said it will begin buying at least $5 billion worth of government bonds per week until the economy turns around.
  • The Bank of Canada’s trading desk has been watching markets for government bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and short-term business loans become increasingly rigid as lenders attach severe risk premiums to the interest rates they charge in normal times.
  • Poloz avoided arithmetical predictions about the future. He said the Bank of Canada will release its quarterly economic report on April 15.
Canada can ignore drug, device patents during outbreak under new law (Reuters) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada’s emergency legislation on the coronavirus crisis gives the health minister powers to circumvent patent law and ensure medical supplies, medication or vaccines can be produced locally.
  • Ventilators could be the legislation’s first target, pharmaceutical consultancy PDCI Market Access said in a note to clients.
  • Canada’s main pharmaceutical lobby group, Innovative Medicines Canada, said it was concerned that the legislation did not require the government to check in with the original manufacturer to see what it can supply before authorizing others to step in.
Cohen: Why Canada’s response to COVID-19 is so different from that of the U.S. (Ottawa Citizen) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The prime minister appears in public every day, alone, outside his residence. He speaks sensibly, with authority, without hyperbole. This has been his finest hour.
  • Nor do we question the competence of his ministers who are the other faces of the crisis – Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Patty Hajdu, Bill Blair. All are calm, competent and professional. This is what we want.
  • Canadians accept big government, which is how we built the social welfare state. Two-thirds of us voted for progressives last year. We defer to authority.
Canada doubles value of coronavirus stimulus package, promises cash, loan delays (Reuters) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Canada has almost doubled the value of an aid package to help people and businesses deal with losses from the coronavirus outbreak, with Ottawa handing out more money than forecast, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Wednesday.
  • A portal will be set up by April 6 for people who have lost jobs or are unable to work to apply for monthly payments, which will run for four months.
  • Sports equipment maker Bauer Hockey plans to modify its hockey visors into face shields for healthcare workers, while retailers Canada Goose Holdings, and Gap Inc said they would produce medical gear.
MPs suspend Parliament for hours after opposition rejects proposed new government powers (The Globe and Mail) Published on: March 25, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Opposition parties vowed to reject Liberal government plans to authorize months of unlimited spending without Parliamentary approval, derailing efforts for quick approval of billions in support for workers and businesses.
  • The Prime Minister did not provide any specific details as to how the draft bill might be changed.
  • “We want to build in some measures that ensure that parliamentary oversight is going forward, that there are some mechanisms for Parliament to do its job,” Andrew Scheer told CTV’s Power Play early Tuesday evening as negotiations continued. “We have to be able to know there are some safety measures there on behalf of the Canadian people.”
Corona response: 7 questions business leaders should ask themselves (Corporate Knights) Published on: March 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • In the face of COVID-19, Canada’s business and institutional leaders can help unleash creativity and a new sense of mission.
  • In particular, leaders and institutions that are not delivering essential public health services need to ask a series of questions – to answer the question, quite simply, of what they can do for their country.
Coronavirus: Ontario government to open child care centres for frontline workers (Global News) Published on: March 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • The Ontario government announced on Sunday that it will be opening select child care centres across the province to help frontline workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • “We need to help our nurses, doctors and frontline care workers to be able to focus on protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians,” said Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott in a statement Sunday afternoon.
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the services would be free and covered by the government.
Doug Ford has risen to the coronavirus challenge (The Star) Published on: March 22, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • As the spread of COVID-19 has utterly transformed life as we know it, it has also emerged as the most profound test of political leadership in a generation or more.
  • From Prime Minister Trudeau to our premiers and mayors, the performances of our leaders have been commendable. But perhaps the biggest success has been the commanding performance of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
  • As the crisis has deepened, Ford is exemplifying the tenets of good crisis communication. He has been transparent and forthcoming, hosting daily briefings which may seem routine, but are in fact distinguished by attention to small details.
Ontario appeals to businesses to help produce medical supplies (CityNews) Published on: March 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford is appealing to the province’s manufacturing sector to help produce key medical supplies.
  • The premier says any company that can produce items like ventilators, face masks, surgical gowns, protective eye-wear and hand sanitizers should reach out to the government.
Prepare for multiple waves of COVID-19 over 12 months: military chief to troops (CBC) Published on: March 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Gen. Jonathan Vance says the Canadian Armed Forces is planning for the ‘worst-case scenario’.
  • The notion that the virus caseload could recede and then return is a feature of federal government planning.
  • A truly worst-case scenario would involve public disturbances, he added.
Where Canada is falling short on its coronavirus communications (Maclean's) Published on: March 19, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • Some key lessons identified after SARS have not been followed, leading at times to sparse details and a patchwork system of basic information.
  • Uniformity in messaging has been tough, too—the premiers of Quebec and British Columbia have used their press conferences to needle Ottawa to take more drastic action to limit travel.
Coronavirus: Kind Canadians start ‘caremongering’ trend (BBC) Published on: March 17, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • More than 35 Facebook groups have been set up in 72 hours to serve communities in places including Ottawa, Halifax and Annapolis County in Nova Scotia, with more than 30,000 members between them.
  • But in Canada, a country whose inhabitants are stereotyped in the media as kind to a fault, helping others has become an organised movement called “caremongering”.
  • Valentina said the rapid growth of the trend was far beyond her expectations, with the Toronto group itself now having more than 9,000 members.
Amazon ramps hiring, opening 100,000 new roles to support people relying on Amazon’s service in this stressful time (Amazon) Published on: March 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • We are opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the U.S. in our fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.
  • In the U.S., we will be adding an additional $2 USD per hour worked through April from our current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, £2 per hour in the UK, and approximately €2 per hour in many EU countries.
  • We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy.
Shopify is giving its employees $1,000 to furnish their work-from-home setups with whatever gear they need because of the coronavirus (Business Insider) Published on: March 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Leadership
  • A source familiar with the matter told Business Insider that Shopify has given its employees $1,000 each to furnish their home set-ups with whatever equipment needed to work remotely.
  • Employees were also told they are allowed to take home any office equipment, including computer monitors, they need to do their jobs.
The Coronavirus Customer-Service Crisis (The Atlantic) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • When stores are dealing with unending lines and impatient, nervous customers, workers can’t always maintain a six-foot distance from people and clean their hands regularly.
  • “The sense of frustration and helplessness is growing. It’s making it really depressing to be at work.”
  • Over the past week, Instacart has experienced demand spikes of up to 20 times its normal order volume in California and Washington, where community spread of the coronavirus has dominated news coverage.
  • As the crisis deepens, a whole gamut of customer-service workers are being pulled into the fray.
Coronavirus has disrupted supply chains for nearly 75% of U.S. companies. (Axios) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Of the companies surveyed that expect supply chain impacts (80% said yes), most expect the severity of the disruptions will increase after the first quarter of this year.
  • For a majority of U.S. businesses, lead times have doubled, and that shortage is compounded by the shortage of air and ocean freight options to move product to the United States — even if they can get orders filled.
  • Manufacturers in China report operating at 50% capacity with 56% of normal staff.
Trudeau Ready to Backstop Businesses in Response to Virus (Bloomberg) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • Justin Trudeau announced C$1.1 billion ($800 million) in new financial measures to help mitigate the effects of the widening coronavirus outbreak in Canada, adding he’s prepared to use federal financing agencies to stimulate the economy further if needed.
  • The prime minister said Wednesday the immediate plan includes providing faster unemployment insurance benefits to people who self-isolate, more funding for coronavirus research and financial assistance to provinces for medical supplies.
Trudeau to announce COVID-19 aid measures Wednesday (CityNews) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to announce federal funding to help provincial health-care systems cope with the increasing numbers of Canadians infected with the new coronavirus and to help workers who are forced to isolate themselves.
  • The immediate objective is to try to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible, while also helping individuals hurt financially by COVID-19, such as by being forced to take time off work while under mandatory quarantine or self-imposed isolation.
  • Business and labour groups alike have called specifically for the federal government to loosen restrictions on employment insurance payments for people who are off work due to illness.
Canadian banks separating trading staff amid novel coronavirus concerns (Canadian Press) Published on: March 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • Canada’s biggest financial institutions are making sweeping changes to their trading operations to protect against a novel form of coronavirus, which one bank confirmed it has already faced in its workforce.
  • Their decisions come after RBC said it learned last week of a possible case of COVID-19 impacting one floor of its Meadowvale office complex in Mississauga, Ont.
Canada set to lose millions of tourism dollars due to COVID-19: Joly (CTV News) Published on: March 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • She said that Chinese tourists visiting Canada amounts for an average of $2 billion in tourism revenue each year, and the current downturn is forecasted to result in a loss of $550 million by June.
  • Among the measures being taken: the government is going to be encouraging Canadians to explore their own country, diverting tourism promotion dollars towards domestic travel instead of continuing to target big international markets like China.
Canada’s top doctor says country ready with co-ordinated response to COVID-19 (CTV News) Published on: March 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said most of the cases in Canada so far have been mild, and the patients are self isolating at home.
  • Health officials in Ontario, British Columbia and across Canada have said the risk posed by COVID-19 in this country remains low.
  • Forty-seven research teams will now get backing from the federal government for work to “inform clinical and public health responses, develop and evaluate diagnostic tools and vaccines, as well as create strategies to tackle misinformation, stigma, and fear.”
Editorial: On coronavirus, Canada’s leaders are getting it right (Ottawa Citizen) Published on: March 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • First, public health agencies have provided frequent, factual updates on COVID-19.
  • Second, their tone has been non-political.
  • But at the moment, there is unusual trust between Canadians and their governments on coping with COVID-19.
How are North American employers protecting employees from coronavirus? (Benefits Canada) Published on: March 6, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Economic Impact
  • The survey, which polled 158 employers, found more than half (59 per cent) have deployed communications campaigns geared toward preventing spread of the disease, while 44 per cent have increased access to hand sanitizers for their North American employees and 38 per cent are reviewing and or/revising HR policies and procedures.
  • However, only five per cent are evaluating and/or reserving for potential increased liabilities in their health plans.
How Canadian companies are responding to COVID-19 (The Logic) Published on: March 6, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • The Logic surveyed 35 companies, including banks, investment funds and post-secondary institutions to find out what measures they have put in place for their employees in response to the disease.
  • Of those listed below, 17 have restricted or limited business travel, while two have asked their employees to work from home.
Canadians are telling their government—do whatever it takes to make it right (Maclean's) Published on: March 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business
  • What the polls are showing—surveys by EKOS Research among others—is that Canadians are scared witless.
  • Sixty per cent think the country is going to be worse off six months from now.
  • EKOS Research finds Canadians unified in seeing the coronavirus pandemic as “the challenge of a lifetime,” and turning their minds to what they want their governments to be doing once the pandemic has passed.