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October 5, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

Canada's economic engine stalled in July as GDP contracted again

Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1 per cent in July.

The accommodation and food services sector expanded by 12 per cent as more provinces reopened their economies after the third wave. A similar trend was seen in the hard-hit arts, entertainment and recreation sector, which expanded by eight per cent.

But those sources of strength weren't enough to offset weakness in other parts of the economy, including agriculture, which shrank by 5.5 per cent due to extreme heat in Western Canada hurting crop yields. 

Wildfires in B.C. made a dent in the forestry and logging industry, which shrank by 3.9 per cent.

The utility sector shrank by 4.9 per cent while manufacturing contracted by 1.1 per cent and construction slumped by 0.9 per cent.

July's numbers mean Canada's economy is still two per cent smaller than it was 19 months ago before the pandemic started.

The number for July was slightly better than the 0.2 per cent drop that economists were expecting, but the data agency gave an advanced estimate for August that suggests a stronger bounce back was underway. 

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N.B. triggers COVID-19 circuit breaker for some areas

New Brunswick has announced a 14-day COVID-19 circuit breaker for parts of the province deemed "hot zones" and limited all Thanksgiving gatherings to single households, as the virus claimed one more life and infected 90 more people.

The circuit -breaker measures in the Moncton region, Zone 1, as far north as Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, the Fredericton region, Zone 3, north of Deerville, and all of the Edmundston region, Zone 4, are designed to protect the health-care system and prevent the virus from becoming even more entrenched, said Premier Blaine Higgs.

Starting Friday at 6 p.m., people in these areas must limit their contact to their single household, which includes individuals living together, caregivers for any member of the household, and any parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild living outside the household who requires supports, he said.

"This means that indoor and outdoor gatherings are not permitted beyond your single household, except in public places where proof of vaccination is required," he told the COVID briefing.

Travel to and from the circuit breaker areas is prohibited, unless travel is required for work, health services, child custody, child care or post-secondary education.

Other steps taken by the Higgs government Tuesday to try to "corral" the disease:

  • Long-term care workers, staff and volunteers in schools and licensed early learning and child-care facilities, have until Nov. 19 to be fully vaccinated or face unpaid leave.
  • All government employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 19 or face unpaid leave.
  • Starting Oct. 12, rapid tests will be used in schools for unvaccinated students who are deemed a close contact of a positive case.

To read the news release click here

Canadian industries are currently facing the biggest labour shortages

New research published last week from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) reports that 64 per cent of Canadian businesses say labour shortages are limiting their growth.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 731,900 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2021. StatCan said these vacancies can be seen across all provinces, with the largest increases in Quebec, Ontario and B.C.

Overall, Deloitte Canada says that 30.3 per cent of Canadian businesses are reporting labour shortages.

While many industries have struggled to return to regular working capacity amid COVID-19, data shows that these sectors have the largest number of job vacancies in Canada:


As one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Deloitte Canada predicts that the labour shortages facing the hospitality and food service industry won't be over anytime soon. "We expect employment in accommodation and food services and information, culture and recreation to continue to experience substantial growth in 2022 but to remain below pre-pandemic levels for some time," Stratton said.

According to data from Statistics Canada, the number of job vacancies in hospitality and food services increased by 11,600 from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2021, reaching an all-time high of 89,100. StatCan says this increase was "entirely" in the food services and drinking places subsector. The agency added that food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related support occupations had the second largest increase in vacancies of any occupation over the two years in Canada.

However, the BDC report suggests the phase out of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and other programs like it won't fix the labour problem. While some sectors have lost thousands of jobs during the pandemic, BDC's chief economist Pierre Cleroux says the pandemic didn't create Canada's labour shortage -- it just made an existing problem worse. He said the key problem is demographics.


While the pandemic has increased demand for health services, many nurses report having left the profession after the stress of COVID-19 made their jobs more difficult and less safe, creating a shortage of health-care workers in certain regions and even forcing rural areas to temporarily close hospital units.

According to Statistics Canada, health care and social assistance currently have the largest need for labour of any sector in the country. StatCan says job vacancies in this sector increased by 40,800 from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2021. The agency said the sector currently represents one in seven job vacancies in Canada.

Job vacancies for registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses had the largest increase of all health-care occupations since 2019, according to StatCan. The agency notes that nearly half of vacancies for this occupation have been open for 90 days or more.


Statistics Canada reported a record number of job vacancies in the manufacturing sector last month. The agency says there were 65,900 manufacturing job vacancies in the second quarter of 2021, the highest number of vacancies for the sector since 2015. The increase was spread across several subsectors, with the largest gains in food manufacturing, such as meatpacking, and wood product manufacturing, according to StatCan.


Job vacancies in retail trade increased to 84,300 in the second quarter of 2021, according to StatCan, with the largest gains in food and beverage stores, building material supply dealers and garden equipment shops. By occupation, the agency said retail salespersons, store shelf stockers, clerks and order filers were among the top 10 occupations with the largest increase in vacancies from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2021.


Trucking HR Canada, a national, non-profit organization working to address workforce issues in the trucking and logistics sector, reports that there was an average of 18,000 truck driver vacancies in the second quarter of 2021. According to its latest report, the trucking industry had a vacancy rate of five per cent at the end of 2020. In comparison, the vacancy rate across all occupations in Canada was 2.7 per cent.

Ontario throne speech sets out economic recovery from COVID-19 as priority

Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered Ontario Premier Doug Ford's throne speech on Monday, marking the start of a new legislative session and the opportunity to present a renewed agenda eight months ahead of the next provincial election.

It focused largely on what the government has done to support the health-care and long-term care systems during the pandemic, highlighting the need for more action but with few specifics, though it mentions already-promised legislation to set long-term care standards.

Thanks to Ontario's high vaccination rates — more than 86 per cent of eligible residents have received at least one dose — the province is entering a "new phase" of the pandemic, and while cases may rise as people head indoors it won't be cause for panic, the speech said.

Massive levels of new spending for supports during the pandemic have left Ontario in a significant financial hole. The latest projection for the 2021-2022 deficit is $32.4 billion. The speech said that the province's economic recovery will be fuelled by growth, not spending cuts or tax hikes. In particular, it mentions building roads, highways and transit.

Young adults, students and hospitality workers were specifically mentioned in the speech as people who have had to shoulder large economic burdens during the pandemic. "At the same time, take-home pay for many workers has not kept up with rising costs," the speech said.

One of Ford's major promises from the 2018 election that has not yet been fulfilled is a pledge to cut income taxes by 20 per cent for the second income-tax bracket (those making up to about $90,000 per year).

Monday's speech marks the first time the legislature has convened since early June. It had been set to return on Sept. 13, but early last month Ford prorogued it until after the federal election, which was held Sept. 20.

Click here to read the full speech

Temple Scott Associates analysis of the Ontario Throne Speech

PEI Vax Pass starts today

The PEI Vax Pass program will allow fully vaccinated Islanders and visitors to safely take part in organized community, cultural, sporting and other social events.

The PEI Vax Pass is a time-limited measure that begins October 5 until the risk of COVID-19 to Prince Edward Island is reduced. This program is another layer of protection for PEI residents and will allow people to gather more safely and prevents the risk of widespread outbreaks.  The Delta-driven fourth wave of the global COVID-19 pandemic is the most infectious wave of the pandemic thus far, resulting in high rates of hospitalization, mainly in unvaccinated people. 

PEI residents and visitors to the province who are 19 years of age and older will be asked to present both their vaccination record, in either paper or digital format, along with their government-issued identification to access certain businesses, events, and other areas requiring proof of immunization. Youth aged 12 to 18 will only need to provide their proof of vaccination. Individuals will need to be fully vaccinated to access these locations and activities. Cohorting, gathering limits and masks will be required at events available to fully vaccinated attendees; however physical distancing will not be required. A digital QR code-based system is expected to launch later this month which will be a more efficient method to confirm vaccination status.

Businesses, organizations and event organizers requiring proof of vaccination can access dedicated online resources.

Anyone needing additional supports to implement the proof of immunization requirement at their establishment can phone 1-833-533-9333 or email

Vaccines to be mandatory for all public service employees in B.C.

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be mandatory for thousands of public service employees in B.C., the province has announced.

A statement Tuesday said anyone working for the B.C. Public Service Agency will need to have had both shots by Nov. 22. Roughly 30,000 people work in public service in B.C. Those staff working "in core government or ministries" will be required to provide proof of full vaccination with their vaccine cards.

The province said it will be releasing guidance in early November for "the few people who are unable to be vaccinated."

Off work without pay

In a news conference Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there will be an order coming into effect Oct. 12 that will require all long-term care and assisted living workers to have a first dose. Workers who are unvaccinated by end of day on Oct. 12 will have to take a mandatory leave of absence without pay, she said.

Starting Oct. 12, visitors to long-term care homes will also have to show their vaccine card. On Oct. 26, all health-care workers in B.C. and visitors to acute care facilities must also show proof of vaccine.

Pfizer submits preliminary data to Health Canada for kids' COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have submitted preliminary data from their trial for a COVID-19 shot for kids to Health Canada earlier than expected, the department confirmed Saturday.

A formal filing of the submission for authorization of a vaccine for children is expected in mid-October, according to an email from Health Canada.

Authorization of a vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 years old would be a major step. There are currently no COVID-19 vaccines authorized for children under 12 years old in Canada.

Earlier in the week, Pfizer submitted data on its study for a vaccine for children to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with a formal request for emergency use authorization there also expected in the coming weeks.

Australia: Franchise Disclosure Register details announced

Franchisors will be required to upload their disclosure documents to a publicly-accessible online register from next year, however will be able to redact certain parts of the documents according to new guidelines released by the Australian Government.

The online Franchise Disclosure Register will be operated by the Government, but will not vet or check documents before they are uploaded. Franchisors will be responsible for the accuracy of all information contained in their disclosure documents, with access to the online register available for free to any member of the public.

The Disclosure Register is expected to be ready to receive documents from March 31 next year, and will be voluntary for several months before all brands must upload current disclosure documents by October 31, 2022. Franchisors will be required to open an account on the Register and provide basic information about themselves before uploading their disclosure documents, and any other supporting documents that may be required.

The Franchising Code of Conduct will again be changed to recognise the role of the Disclosure Register, with the draft changes currently open for public consultation until October 29.

An Explanatory Statement about the Register, as well as a plain English guide featuring eight questions for public consultation has also been released.

Business Minister Stuart Robert says the register will help potential franchisees to conduct due diligence and make informed business decisions, and builds on recent reforms to the Franchising Code of Conduct which includes doubling financial penalties, the introduction of new $10 million fines, and increasing the cooling-off period from seven to 14 days, as well as extending it to franchisee-to-franchisee sales, among other things.

Franchisors will be permitted to redact some information before uploading disclosure documents, including personal information in deference to the Privacy Act, site-specific information, and commercially sensitive quantitative information about rebates from suppliers (but potentially not the list of suppliers itself).

The Register will not retain past versions of disclosure documents, and all franchisors will be expected to maintain a current disclosure document on Register unless they have ceased offering franchises. For more information, click here.

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