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August 19, 2021

Election Update

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On the campaign trail – Day 5

By Scott Munnoch, Temple Scott Associates

As the first week of the federal election campaign begins to wind down, we are starting to see some clear differences between the major parties.

The Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau called the election and yet was unable to answer the question as to why. Reporters continued to ask him and he simply added that he needed a mandate to keep going. But as many pointed out, he already had a mandate so why an election. He then made appearances in his home province of Quebec before jetting off to BC where he has spent 2+ days on the mainland and Vancouver Island. Announcements to date have been for increased firefighters and support for seniors although these will take time to implement.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also had a stumble out of the gate on Sunday when he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, answer the question on mandatory vaccines for federal workers and Conservative candidates. He later put out a release stating that a Conservative government would not make vaccines mandatory, but the confusion had been established. O’Toole also stayed in his Conservative TV studio for the first few days and has only ventured out twice to date in Quebec City and Ottawa. Instead, he has been doing focused Town Halls and interviews in targeted regions. Reporters already seem to be getting tired of this conservative approach.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh likely had the best launch. Replying to the election call in Montreal, he looked organized and prepared albeit Quebec is tough ground for the NDP. He was the first Leader to head west, appearing in BC on Day 2, clearly trying to gain some support in friendly British Columbia. He is starting the trek back east in Edmonton today where the NDP believe they have a chance a taking a seat from the Conservatives.

The Greens have stayed in Toronto so far and of course the Bloc will spend the entire campaign in Quebec.

Election polls have started and so far, the Liberals continue to hold a modest lead, although some polls have them within the margin of error with the Conservatives. While too early to read much into these, one thing that appears clear is that the outcome of this election will come down to the campaign itself. No one has a lock and the soft vote appears very large. The French language debate on September 8 and the English language debate on September 9 could be important for all three Leaders heading into the final 10 days of the campaign.

Additionally, there is a thought that the campaign really only begins after Labour Day when holidays are over and kids are back to school, Canadians settle back into their regular routines and pay attention to the issues and Leaders. To adopt this view would be a mistake. Paul Martin took this approach calling an election over the Christmas holidays in 2005. By the time he got back to the campaign trail after the holidays, Opposition leader Stephen Harper, who continued to campaign, had taken a significant lead and went on to will the January 23, 2006 election.

Of interest is an Angus Reid poll out today showing the Liberals with 36% support compared to 30% for the Conservatives and 20% for the NDP. Included in the numbers is an outlook at post-pandemic life with 58% of Canadians being more anxious than hopeful. Within these groups, the anxious prefer O’Toole and the hopeful prefer Trudeau.

A more detail discussion of the early election issues is available here.

By the Numbers (as of August 19, 2021)

Courtesy of the CBC Poll Tracker

The Latest Polling

Conservative Liberal NDP Green BQ
29.3 35.0 (+0.3) 19.8 (+0.2) 4.8 (-0.2) 6.3 (-0.1)

Seat Projections (170 seats are needed for a majority government)

Conservative Liberal NDP Green BQ
106 166 37 1 28


Odds of Winning

Liberal Conservative
Majority Minority Minority Majority
41 48 10 1

What it means

The Liberals continue to hold a lead over the Conservatives in national polling and would likely gain seats if an election were held today but might still fall short of the 170 needed for a majority government. The Conservatives are trailing in second and aren't making any significant progress. The NDP has some momentum, however, and is poised to gain seats. The Bloc Québécois and Greens are holding steady but at lower levels of support than in the 2019 election. The People's Party sits at 3.4 per cent.

The Liberals are leading by wide margins in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, though their advantage in Atlantic Canada is slipping. The Conservatives are only leading in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba but have seen their numbers in B.C. recover enough to put them back in second place ahead of the NDP. The New Democrats still have their best numbers in B.C. and are gaining ground in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The Bloc is ensconced in second in Quebec but is not making any headway, while the Greens are below double-digits throughout the country. At 4.3 per cent, the PPC has its best results in Alberta.

Employers must give their staff three (3) consecutive hours to vote

By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.

For example, if you live in a riding where voting hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and you usually work from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., your hours of work will not allow for three consecutive hours for voting. To give you three consecutive hours to vote, your employer could allow you to arrive late (for example, at 12:30 p.m.), let you leave early (for example, at 6:30 p.m.), or give you three hours off at some point during the work day.

Your employer has the right to decide when the time off will be given.

This rule may not apply if you work in the transportation industry.

Can an employee lose pay for taking time off to vote?

No. Employers cannot penalize an employee or make a deduction on their pay for taking time off to vote, as required by the Canada Elections Act. An employee must be paid what he or she would have earned during the time allowed off for voting.

Elections Canada FAQs on Time Off to Vote

Where and how to vote (in person or by mail)

From Elections Canada

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Other News

Progressive Conservatives win surprise majority in Nova Scotia election

The Progressive Conservatives will form a majority government in Nova Scotia as Tim Houston led his party Tuesday night to a resounding win over the Liberals, which have led the province since 2013.

The Tories had 39.1 per cent of the vote, which translated to 31 elected candidates, with 28 seats needed for a majority in the 55-seat legislature. 

The Liberals, meanwhile, had 36.7 per cent of the vote, but only managed to elect 17 people (down 7 seats).

The NDP elected five candidates and are leading in a sixth race, taking 21 per per cent of the vote.

Inflation rate spikes to highest level in a decade, at 3.7% in July

Canada's inflation rate jumped to 3.7 per cent in July, as the cost of shelter and durable goods went up at a fast enough pace to push the cost of living up to its highest level since 2011.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that the homeowners' replacement cost index, which is related to the price of new homes, went up at an annual pace of 13.7 per cent in July. That's the fastest uptick on record dating back to 1987.

The price of furniture increased at an annual pace of 13.4 per cent, in large part due to tariffs that the government implemented on upholstered items from China and Vietnam earlier this year. 

The rising price of cars was also a major contributor to the upside, with passenger vehicle prices rising 5.5 per cent. "The gain was partially attributable to the global shortage of semiconductor chips," the data agency said.

Food prices increased by 1.7 per cent, a much slower pace of gain than seen of late. Within the food category, the price of meat rose by 3.1 per cent while dairy went up by 3.5 per cent. On the opposite side of the ledger, prices for fresh vegetables and fruit actually declined in the past year, by 7.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

The inflation rate went up in every province in Canada, but there were wide regional differences. Saskatchewan had the lowest increase in the country, at 2.3 per cent, while Prince Edward Island saw its cost of living increase by 6.1 per cent. All four provinces east of Quebec had rates higher than the national average.

Statistics Canada says part of the inflation spike is due to comparing prices to the lows seen one year ago, and the Bank of Canada has warned that inflation is likely to hover around three per cent this year because prices are being compared to the drop in prices and spending during the early months of the pandemic.

The 3.7 per cent inflation rate is higher than the 3.1 per cent clocked in June, and also more than the 3.4 per cent that economists were expecting. It ties the previous high-water mark for inflation, which was hit in May 2011. Prior to that, you'd have to go all the way back to 2003 to find a time when Canada's rate was higher.

Economists, meanwhile, were more nuanced. "It is important to note that even with the gaudy headline readings, the two-year pace — which removes base effects — is still running close to two per cent on most major measures," said Doug Porter with Bank of Montreal.

Delta variant threat to the global economy means fiscal prudence may take an election back seat

This week, the world's most influential central banker, U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, called the delta variant a "wild card" for the global economy.

While there are warning signs that the growing impact of this new, more contagious strain may play a role in the upcoming Canadian election, economic observers say that by itself, a slowdown during the campaign may not have the effect it might have had in the past.

As the health of Canadians takes centre stage in the minds of voters, and as parties take turns proposing their own stimulus measures, some say fiscal conservatives may have more trouble rousing voters this time around.

That is not to say economic issues related to the pandemic — such as the cost of housing, a 10-year high for inflation, business shutdowns and the effect of school closings on working parents — won't also become election issues.

Majority of Canadian small businesses plan to make vaccines mandatory: Poll

A majority of small businesses are planning to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, according to a new poll. The data from consulting firm KPMG indicated 62 per cent of small and medium-sized Canadian businesses said they are either implementing, or planning to implement a vaccination policy.

Eighty-four per cent of survey respondents said vaccines should be mandatory and are key to avoiding another lockdown. That same amount said they would support a vaccine passport for certain jobs or to enter certain places.

“With so many different approaches across the country, Canadian companies are seeking legal guidance and advice on vaccination policies for their workplaces,” said Norm Keith, employment and labour law partner at KPMG Law LLP, in a release. 

“While some workplaces have taken steps to make proof of vaccination mandatory, others feel that unless mandated by government, it may be too onerous for them to make it a condition of continued employment. Overall, employers need to balance their health and safety legal duties with an employee’s privacy interests and human rights law protections.”

For this poll KPMG surveyed 505 Canadian business owners between Aug. 6 and Aug. 15.

The results were published the same day the City of Toronto announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all city workers by Oct. 30. On Friday, the federal government said it will soon require workers in some sectors to be fully vaccinated.

Last week, via Twitter, Shopify Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said proof of full vaccination will be required for any in-person meetings. Maple Leaf Foods Inc. CEO Michael McCain also took to Twitter recently to announce COVID vaccinations will be required to come into its offices beginning this fall.

Porter, Live Nation and MLSE to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test

Toronto-based airline Porter said in a release on Wednesday that "team members must be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the start of their shift." On Wednesday, Australian airline Qantas announced a similar policy that will require all staff to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test before coming to work as of November.

Event giant Live Nation announced on Wednesday it will require concert attendees at any of its events this fall to be vaccinated. Financial services giant Sun Life will also require proof of vaccination for any of its 12,000 staff choosing to return to its offices in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo, as first reported by the Globe and Mail on Wednesday. Live Nation Canada described its planned mandates as a reflection of the guidelines enforced by its U.S. parent company at Lollapalooza, a four-day music festival held in Chicago earlier this month with about 385,000 people. Local health officials traced at least 203 cases of COVID-19 back to Lollapalooza and characterized the figure as largely anticipated and not a superspreader event.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced on Tuesday that it will require staff and patrons to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result before gaining access to its venues and restaurants.

List of the things that are off-limits to unvaccinated Canadians

How to claim the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit

Employers are now able to submit bulk applications for reimbursement under the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program. 

The Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit bulk application process went live on August 18, 2021. The bulk application process allows employers to provide the required employee-level claims information when seeking reimbursements for a large volume of employees (e.g. more than 50 employees), rather than manually completing the application (which is capped at 10 employees), helping to reduce the administrative work required.

Detailed instructions on how to provide the required information will be shared with bulk application employers after they register on the intake portal.

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