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    The GDP Numbers are In…

    The Latest Economic Numbers are Bad…

    But not horrible?

    By Jenessa Crognali

    Statistics Canada just released its latest economic report for the first three months of 2020 and found that while the economy shrank the most since the 2008-09 financial crisis, gross domestic product (GDP) didn’t fall as much as expected.

    Economists had forecasted a 10% decline, but GDP actually dropped short of that prediction at an annualized 8.2%. StatsCan also released early estimates for April, the first full month with lockdown restrictions in place, and is predicting an 11% decline in real GDP – but it’s possible April will represent the bottom of the economic downturn.

    Basically, Canada’s numbers are the economic equivalent of walking out of an exam thinking you bombed it, but then finding out you actually got a C-.

    Declines are never good, but the better-than-expected data suggests Canada may be able to avoid the worst-case economic scenario. CIBC is even saying that we should look for economic data to start showing signs of revival over the summer months.

    Canada’s six largest banks, which released quarterly earnings last week, all reported an uptick in consumer spending and loan activity in recent weeks but don’t expect things to really start returning to normal for many quarters. CFIB reported that although optimism is on the rise, 43% of small businesses say they are in bad shape.

    Pretty much all economists predicted a historic decline in GDP in the first half of 2020, but now we’re seeing the focus shift onto how quickly and to what extent the economy will recover. As provinces ease lockdown restrictions, and provided the outbreak is contained in the months ahead, most economists expect a gradual but certain recovery.

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    SpaceX: An Astronomical Development in Space Commerce…

    By Ruhee Ismail-Teja

    A spaceship built by SpaceX launched on Saturday and landed at the International Space Station early Sunday. This marked the first time a private company launched a rocket into orbit and was a milestone in passenger spacecraft. The rocket carried two Americans who plan to spend four months in orbit, after which they will return to Earth in a splashdown at sea.

    Tell me more about SpaceX…

    This weekend’s flight is a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX, headed by the infamous Elon Musk (the Tesla guy). NASA had not launched a shuttle into orbit since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. So, to reduce costs and spur innovation, NASA developed a $7 billion USD public-private partnership with the goal of sending astronauts back to the moon in the next few years and to Mars in the 2030s. In this partnership, SpaceX designs, builds, owns, and operates the spaceships, and NASA is a paying customer.

    Ok, so what are the implications?

    While NASA is currently the only customer, SpaceX’s customer base could soon include researchers, celebrities, and tourists. SpaceX has already signed an agreement with Space Adventures, a private space tourism company, with the hopes of sending paying tourists on orbital flights as early as 2021.

    The entrance of private companies in space opens the door for growth in the commercial human spaceflight industry (i.e. space tourism). At $20 to $60 million USD per trip, this will remain unaffordable for most. However, with over three million people tuned in to watch Saturday’s launch, companies are also thinking about commercializing liftoffs as spectator events.

    The human spaceflight industry is already worth $23 billion USD and is predicted to grow to $32 billion USD by 2026. It’s likely that commercial opportunities across industries will emerge. Think of the first commercial filmed in space (Super Bowl here we come!), or the next Tom Cruise movie to land us among the stars (btw, Cruise has already called dibs on this), or some new sci-fi-esque sport…

    This launch also has implications on international relations through national space missions, as SpaceX has the ability sell trips to countries without space programs. The space race has been dominated by the U.S., Russia, and China to date, but the commercialization of space may dampen this nationalistic approach go forward.

    With NASA making no trips to space for nearly a decade, the U.S. has been buying tickets aboard Russian spacecrafts. But with the emergence of SpaceX technology, the U.S.-Russia relationship will change, at least in space.

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    Long Term Care Facilities are not up to Snuff…

    By Taryn Bergin

    Last week, the Canadian Military released a report on the status of long-term care facilities in Ontario. Let’s just say it was not an easy read, but it has sparked a country-wide discussion regarding the state of long-term care in Canada.

    Long-term care had a bad reputation in Canada long before the outbreak of COVID-19, which has only since added more strain. A shocking 80% of deaths related to COVID-19 in Canada have been residents of long-term care homes, and Ontario and Quebec have been hit particularly hard.

    The situation in Ontario and Quebec’s care homes deteriorated to a point that required military aid in staffing. Tracking measures were also taken on care workers, as many employees typically work in more than one home, increasing the likelihood of spread.

    B.C. avoided this early on,  requiring care staff to only work in one facility, likely helping limit the spread of COVID-19 among long-term care homes in the province.

    The outdated design (i.e. inadequate space) of most care facilities also contributed to the increase in transmission. On top of this, several practices recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are impossible to implement in some long-term care homes due to overcrowding and under-staffing.

    Inadequate regulation is another contributing factor. Currently, long-term care is regulated only at the provincial level with no national standards. The Canadian Union of Public Employees, who represent a variety of workers at long-term care facilities, is calling for a complete overhaul of the system, arguing that care homes should be regulated by the Canada Health Act – the federal legislation responsible for publicly funded health care insurance.

    Canada already spends $24 billion a year on long-term care. This may sound like a big number, but viewed as a portion of Canada’s GDP we actually fall below the average of 15 other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries including Norway, Australia, and Denmark.

    It’s clear that we still have some major work to do.

    COVID and Environment

    COVID-19 and the Environment: Can we change for the better?

    By Hannah Rosen

    COVID-19 has continued to wreak havoc on nearly everything and everyone around the world for months. However, one thing has shockingly benefitted from the slow decline of our economies, social lives, and general sanity: the environment! Which brings us to ask this question: can a global pandemic and economic crash save the environment? COVID-19 has us thinking ummmm probably not, no.

    Current data predicts the pandemic could cause global emissions this year to drop by a range of 2,000 to 2,600 mega tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2). For those who do not know how to measure CO2 (like me), this is roughly 5% of the total global emissions in 2019, and a bigger fall in emissions than during any previous economic crisis or period of war. While in the long-term these numbers mean relatively nothing (we need consistent decline at these numbers every year to make an impact on global temperature rises), we can learn about our habits as consumers and capitalists.

    We have changed our habits drastically since January for many reasons. We are travelling less, by both air and road. While most of us are bored in the house and in the house bored, electricity consumption decreased by ~20% on average each month of lockdown. On the other hand, disaster capitalism (the government’s ability to pass bills that otherwise during crisis situations that would otherwise receive serious backlash) is showing negative impacts on the environment, especially in Alberta. One example of this is the suspension of environmental reporting for oil and gas companies during this time of “undue hardship.”

    While it is hard to argue that environmentalism and capitalism can be partners in crime, we must try to aim for economic recovery with a green focus, or else we might see a sharp rise in emissions afterwards (like in 2009). Systemic change in the way energy is produced and consumed, with a focus on policy, can have drastic impacts on our future (and the earth’s). So, pat yourself on the back every time you don’t get in your car to go to barre because this is another win for decreasing both the spread of COVID-19 and CO2 emissions.

    This week, we’re using this space to highlight businesses owned by Black Womxn:

    Contributor Sydney recommends Love and Nudes, which produces skin-tone inclusive shapewear and bras in a “women-owned, women-produced facility”.

    Contributor Hannah recommends online publication, which features a directory to search Black businesses and tradespeople.

    Ottawa’s Nacre Organics makes vegan, organic, and cruelty-free skincare and body products for active lifestyles.

    Kariderm is the world’s first shea butter product to earn organic certification, and is sourced from a women’s cooperative in Burkina Faso

    Once they’re back in stock, Real Talk Candles‘ witty products are a perfect housewarming gift

    Led by Indigenous and Black young people, Future Ancestors is a social enterprise that provides speaking and training on topics like, “Anti-Racism in the Energy Sector”, “Indigenous Research and Engagement”, and “Decolonial Policy Development”, among many others (another great recommendation by Sydney)

    For those who can support more directly:

    The GoFundMe for the family of Regis Korchinski Paquet

    Black Lives Matter Toronto does important work across the country

    Black Lives Matter Toronto also has an emergency fund that gives directly to Black folks in the GTA impacted by COVD-19

    The Black Legal Action Centre provides free legal services for low or no-income Black Ontarions

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