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November 9, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Bank of Canada governor says inflation 'transitory but not short-lived'

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says inflation may be around longer than anticipated.

“I think transitory to economists, means sort of not permanent,” said Macklem in an interview with CTV’s Question Period with Evan Solomon, airing Sunday. “I think to a lot of people, transitory means it's going to be over quickly and maybe I don't know exactly what the right word is, but it's probably something like you know, transitory but not short-lived.”

Canada’s inflation rate currently stands at 4.4 per cent, up from 4.1 per cent in August, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. The central bank expects the inflation rate to near 5 per cent by the end of this year, which remains above its mandate target of 2 per cent.

“I do want to assure Canadians that we are going to keep inflation under control,” said Macklem. “And we have the tools, we have the mandate and we will be adjusting our tools to bring inflation back to target.”

Those tools include Quantitative Easing, a program started by the bank at the beginning of the pandemic –where the bank buys government bonds, increases money supply, to keep interest rates low.   

The bank’s policy interest rate has remained at 0.25 per cent to reduce short-term borrowing costs for businesses and households and spur economic recovery. 

In 2020, the Bank of Canada had not anticipated interest rate increases until 2023. With the new concerns about inflation far exceeding its original inflation projections, Macklem has moved up that timeline to 2022.

Two-thirds of Canadians want pandemic aid lowered or to end: Nanos

Two-thirds of Canadians say the federal government’s pandemic-related benefits should either be lowered or completely end, according to a new survey by Nanos Research.

Results of the poll commissioned by CTV News show that 36 per cent of respondents feel government aid to help Canadians weather the pandemic storm should be lowered, while 31 per cent think it should expire.

Only seven per cent believe it should increase, 21 per cent say it should continue at current levels, and five per cent report being unsure.

Geographically, respondents in Ontario and B.C. were more in favour of aid increasing or continuing at current levels, while Quebec and Atlantic Canada report being more in favour of aid lowering, or ending completely.

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Next phase of Alberta's $370M jobs grant program set to open

Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday the launch of the second phase of his government's $370-million jobs stimulus package, which he says has so far helped more than 14,000 Albertans find new jobs. 

The Alberta Jobs Now program allows employers to apply for a grant that covers 25 per cent of a new employee's salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee.

Kenney said the first round of the program, launched in May, resulted in about 2,700 applications being approved, which led to about 14,000 new jobs.

Applications to the second phase of the program will be accepted starting Nov. 10. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are allocated for this intake, the province says.

A third application intake period will happen in 2022.

Kenney said about 22 per cent of the first tranche of funds went to businesses in the accommodation and hospitality sector. Applications from the construction industry accounted for 11 per cent; the professional, technical and scientific sector got 8.2 per cent; manufacturing firms received eight per cent; and retail businesses took 7.5 per cent of the grants.

Funding for the program is split evenly between the province and the federal government, through Ottawa's Workforce Development Agreement.

Employers who hire applicants with disabilities quality for a grant 1.5 times higher than the amount they would receive for other new employees. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs.

The province says it has made several changes to the program in an effort to allow more people to benefit from it.

  • The minimum number of hours employees must work under the program has been reduced from 30 to 15 hours per week. And employers are now allowed to fill available positions with employed Albertans if there is a business need. 
  • The program is also now open to businesses and non-profits that have been incorporated or registered for less than a year.

Are You a Government of Canada Supplier? Note that Mandatory Vaccination Is in Place for All Active Federal Contractors

If your business has existing contracts with the Government of Canada, you should have received a recent email communication from Public Services and Procurement Canada or from another federal department asking you to certify that you meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for supplier personnel. If you have not received an email, please check your spam or junk email folder. 

Important: The vaccine requirement takes effect on November 15, 2021. Be sure to follow the steps to submit your attestation as outlined in the email you received, even if your contracts do not require access to Government of Canada workplaces. All active suppliers are required to submit an attestation. 

For more information, including the certification process, see the Notice to Federal Contractors on Buyandsell.gc.ca.

Labour market healing but the healing is slowing

Canada’s labor market continued to heal in October as retail businesses ramped up hiring, though the pace of gains has begun to cool.

The economy added 31,200 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa, missing expectations for a gain of 41,600 in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 per cent from 6.9 per cent in September, and total hours worked rose 1 per cent.

The report signals the economic rebound is intact, with companies finding workers as COVID-19 restrictions vanish. Yet, the data also illustrate how future job gains will return to more normal levels -- which averaged 23,000 per month in the two years prior to the pandemic -- as labor slack diminishes. 

Canada’s currency was little changed after the report, trading at about $1.2445 per U.S. dollar at 9:32 in Toronto trading. Bond reaction was also muted, with the yield on Canada’s two-year benchmark falling one basis point to 0.97 per cent.

The number of Canadians in the labor force actually shrank by 25,000 in October, according to the report. The bulk of the gains last month were in the pandemic-exposed retail sector, which returned to pre-pandemic employment levels with a net gain of 72,000 jobs.

Elsewhere, gains stalled. Employment in goods producing industries was down by 6,200. Public administration also posted a decline, after jumping in September due to a federal that necessitated the temporary hiring of poll workers. 

All the gains in September were in full-time employment. Average hourly wages for permanent workers were up 2.1 per cent from a year earlier, suggesting the impact of rising consumer price inflation has yet to drive pay gains higher. That should give some comfort to policy makers at the Bank of Canada, who argue broader price pressures aren’t likely to trigger a labor cost spiral.

Canada’s labor market had been on tear since emerging from a third wave of COVID earlier this year, generating 600,000 new net jobs since May that has brought employment beyond pre-pandemic levels. 

Those gains prompted the Bank of Canada to pare back its stimulus efforts at a policy decision last week. Employment is about 30,000 higher than it was in February 2020, after the nation lost 3 million jobs at the start of the pandemic.

Policy makers led by Governor Tiff Macklem still contend slack remains in the economy, given the labor force has grown since the crisis hit. The jobless rate is also about a percentage point above pre-pandemic levels.

Canada’s economy stronger before the pandemic than originally thought

Canada’s economy had a stronger trajectory than initially estimated over the past three years, according to annual revisions by the country’s statistics agency.

Statistics Canada revised higher its growth estimates for 2018 and said last year’s contraction wasn’t quite as deep as earlier projections. The revisions leave the level of gross domestic product about 0.4 per cent higher in 2020 than the agency had said previously. 

The figures suggest Canada’s economy entered into last year’s recession on a stronger footing than first thought. Still, it doesn’t necessarily imply tighter capacity conditions, so it’s unlikely to affect the Bank of Canada’s thinking on potential interest rate increases next year. While the higher level of GDP will be welcome, it was driven by stronger business investment, which implies a higher level of potential output.

The level of non-residential business investment was 3.7 per cent higher in 2020 than earlier estimates, according to Bloomberg calculations, with machinery and equipment spending 5.1 per cent larger.

The statistics agency said the economy grew 2.8 per cent in 2018, versus previous estimates of 2.4 per cent. It left growth in 2019 unchanged at 1.9 per cent, while scaling back its estimate of last year’s contraction to 5.2 per cent, versus 5.3 per cent.

United States land borders reopen to fully vaccinated Canadians

As of Monday, the United States has reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air, land or passenger ferry.

Air travellers will need to show proof of vaccination on arrival in the U.S. but will also still need to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight.

Non-essential travellers crossing at a land border will be required to show proof of vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent — but unlike air travellers they will face no requirement to show a negative COVID-19 test.

Canada is still requiring all travellers entering the country to provide proof of a negative test, regardless of their point of entry.

Michael Layman Named Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs at IFA

The International Franchise Association has named Mike Layman as its senior vice president for government relations and public affairs. He’ll take over from Matt Haller, who was named the IFA’s president and chief executive this summer. Layman has worked for the IFA for nearly seven years, and before that helped establish a government relations practice at employment and labor law firm Littler Mendelson; he also worked for the Society for Human Resource Management and spent more than half a decade on the Hill."

The CFA congratulates Mike on his promotion, and we look forward to continue to work with him in the future.

Read more from Politico here.

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