Canada Braces for Impact

By Momal Khan

The second wave is here – and it may hit more like a tsunami this time around. With cases nearing the thousands each passing day and businesses facing Stage 2-like restrictions, Canadians are bracing for impact as we head into October. 

In an announcement alongside Health Minister Christine Elliot in Toronto last Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that health officials have confirmed that the province is now in the second wave of COVID-19.

“The second wave has the potential to be more complicated and hard-hitting than the first wave experienced in the spring,” says Ford, calling the single-day record-high of 700 new cases reported last Monday “concerning”. 

“We don’t want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to,” said Christine Elliott, despite a recommendation from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to do so. 

In recent weeks, many regions have started to gradually reopen, coming back from what Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri noted was a “fairly broad-based lockdown”. 

In the spring, Canadian officials had shuttered most non-essential businesses and urged people to remain at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but this was when cases were somewhat scattered by region and growing at a much slower rate. So what does the arrival of a second wave mean for the Canadian economy? 

The stage we are currently in brings far greater apprehension than the past. The uncertainty around this stage of economic recovery for the nation is unprecedented, pointing toward a recuperation that will be gradual and more long-term as the uncertainty depletes. 

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said on Tuesday that the bank remained focused on utilizing policy tools to better support the country’s economic recovery. In March, the bank slashed its key interest rate three times to a record-low 0.25 per cent, while maintaining its quantitative easing program. The Bank continues to anticipate heavy reliance on policy support as economic activity attempts to bounce back in the coming months. 

Mortgage and other credit deferrals have helped keep citizens from having to seek additional loans, however, with circumstances changing, Canadians may be at risk of falling behind on payments if incomes fail to recuperate when deferrals end. 

So what is being done to prep the economy for a second wave, and is there a plan in progress for a post-COVID recovery stage? 

“We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis, safely get our economy back up and running, and get people back to work,” Trudeau said in a press release last Thursday.

In his announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined how the Canada Infrastructure Bank aims to invest $10 billion in projects intended to create upwards of 60,000 jobs. This comes after last week’s throne speech in which the Liberal government promised to create one million jobs and help revive the pandemic-ravaged economy as part of their investment plan. 

This infrastructure plan also intends to contribute towards environmental sustainability efforts. In effect, it will address post-COVID economic concerns as the fight against climate change endures: the plan intends to help the government meet its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

“With smart targeted investments, we can get people back on the job and grow the economy while building a safe, sustainable future for everyone,” Trudeau said

Specific projects may include zero-emission transit systems, irrigation infrastructure for farmers, and clean power generation. Not only will this address and solve the need for jobs in the current economy, but with opportunities in infrastructure and clean energy being increasingly sought out, it will also draw worldwide investor capital.

This type of bolstering for the economy may become crucial, especially if future advances are threatened by the slowdown of recovery and sudden spike in COVID cases.  

While people may not want to see a sequel to the COVID-19 driven economic shutdown earlier this year, the reopening of businesses coinciding with the oncoming second wave will be an eye-opener for many.

Photo by Cheng Feng, Unsplash

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